Many fans and experts believe Ward had thrown his head back after being collected by McKernan, staging for a free kick in the dying minutes of Friday night’s four-point win.
With the kick awarded to the 30-year-old and an eventual shot goal coming as a product of the free kick, Ward was able to put the Giants ahead with two minutes left in the match, with the goal eventually being the difference maker between the two sides.
In a post-game interview special on Channel 7 with teammate Heath Shaw, Ward was questioned on the incident, stating he hadn’t staged for the free kick.
“I thought I played it pretty well,” he said.
I didn’t play for it but I knew the contact was coming, yeah.”
Papley was charged with staging whilst in a marking contest with Magpies defender Brayden Maynard.