Essendon fans rave after a referee ruling in the final moments of Thursday’s nail bitter sparked heated debate among AFL pundits

AFL: Essendon’s Zach Merrett was after a bump from Swan Nick Blakey in the first half at SCG, but Tom Morris believes he will escape the suspension

Sydney Swans’ thrilling three-point victory over the Essendon Bombers on Thursday night was marred by late refereeing controversy

The fourth round match was marked by a hotly contested tug-of-war throughout the second half, which set up a climax at SCG

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Sydney was three points ahead with less than a minute left on the clock when Tom Hickey caught a boundary throw near Essendon’s 50 defensive end.

The Swans ruckman took a few steps looking for handball before being tackled by young Bombers pistol Nik Cox, but the referees thought Hickey had no prior opportunity and proceeded with a ball in the air

Several AFL fans have expressed frustration on social media, claiming Essendon should have gotten a free kick because Hickey ran a few yards before being tackled

Getting him out of the scrum is irrelevant to the previous opportunity But Hickey goes to handball and then brings him back It’s surely before But it’s so easy in slo-mo 28 shots at 20 Sydney deserved the win at the end https: // tco / 0JODAbd0EZ

It had to be a free kick at that limit touch Hickey caught the ball from the scrum, was tackled and didn’t throw it Silence of the affirmation? #AFLSwansDons

Tom Hickey comes out of the fray and doesn’t get rid of him ?! My God Someone please explain this to me

Speaking on Fox Footy’s first crack, AFL reporter Tom Morris said: “I think he’s got the ball

“If you get tackled right away, okay But he comes out the hard way, takes a few steps and had the chance to play handball”

Three-time All-Australian All-Australian Gérard Healy disagreed: “I have always been of the opinion that you should reward the winner of the ball

“For me he took a step and a half, he was tackled almost immediately. I would have said play on”

St Kilda, the great Leigh Montagna, explained: “We don’t want to reward tackles We don’t want to reward negative play”

Speaking to reporters after the game, Essendon coach Ben Rutten said he did not see the incident

The decision would have gone unnoticed had it come earlier in the game, but every moment in a thriller’s final passages inevitably comes under scrutiny.

Regardless, the undefeated Swans claimed a fourth straight victory to champion their cause as true contenders for the final

Sydney are the fifth team since 2017 to win their first four games of the season – the other four have all advanced to the preliminary finals

The Swans will enjoy a nine-day break before facing the GWS Giants at SCG on Saturday, April 17

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Sydney vs Essendon, sydney swans, Essendon, Lance Franklin, Swans

World news – UA – AFL thriller “ruined” by controversial appeal