4 Points: Geelong free-for-all a real giveaway

Geelong gave away free kicks like post-match footies on Saturday night. Carlton sat like eager kids in the stands, gleefully awaiting the gift surely coming their way.

Chris Scott was dismayed afterwards. He should be. He should be angry, not at the free kick count per se, but on what underpinned it. The giveaways were the pointer to a problem, not the problem itself. They were the symptom not the cause.

Pussy-footing around: Geelong’s Tom Stewart evades a tackle against Carlton.

It wasn't only the free kick count that mattered but the manner in which many were given. Tom Stewart's gift to Carlton's Sam Petrevski-Seton after throwing the ball in his back the most glaring in a line of free kick reversals mostly caused by the team's leaders. And make no mistake, Stewart has already become a leader at Geelong.

He was petulant and that was symptomatic of a team of stars who too often tried to create a goal out of a moment of brilliance rather than construct one through team-oriented actions.

That's not a one-off, but a creeping trend for these Cats who deserve to be admired for knocking on the door regularly. It also presents a challenge in not being as good a team as they could be given their list of top-end talent.

Without Tom Stewart (the 50m from him was just one brain spasm that only mildly tarnished a night that was otherwise again excellent), Marc Blicavs and Jack Henry the Cats would have lost. That Henry, in his ninth game, was their most disciplined team-oriented player is an indictment on his seniors in the team.

Cat napping: Star forward Tom Hawkins gave away seven free kicks in a team total of 31.

With Scott Selwood, Harry Taylor, Cam Guthrie, Nakia Cockatoo and Menzel to come back they will improve but their absences have exposed, in cricket terms, a long tail that is protected by the big names at the top of the order. The problem is some of the stars are picking and choosing at the moment.

When depth thins, the desperate team-oriented approach that won Richmond and the Western Bulldogs flags becomes even more important.

Scott Selwood is that player who keeps getting better with every game he doesn’t play. Another week or two out and they should hand him a Brownlow. Cam Guthrie might be up his runner-up. When Selwood and Guthrie play the Cats have more grit about them. Selwood makes Geelong’s midfield function better because he is naturally inclined to defend first, whereas for his more celebrated mates in the midfield it is not a front-of-mind thought. When Cam Guthrie is present, Geelong defend better.  With Peter Ryan

Demons not flat track bullies

The question left hanging has been answered. Melbourne had beaten poor sides and beaten them heavily.

Were they merely flat-track bullies who could smash lowly teams, yet surrender against better opposition? Of their wins this year only North Melbourne stood as a victory of real merit (they could have also had the Cats as a victory if Max Gawn's last kick went straight). So the answer after belting the Crows is no, they are not flat-track bullies.

Hope spring eternal: Demons gather to celebrate an emphatic win over the Crows at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs.

But they are bullies.  The Demons bully teams by leaving them under constant threat because they play hard around the ball, take territory but also have strong weapons in attack.

Melbourne is an offensive team in a pool of defence-first sides. They can and do score heavily. For that matter they are a bit like last year's version of the team they beat, Adelaide.

Tom McDonald has made the mix structurally better since he came back into the side and Max Gawn is getting better weekly this year.

Jake Lever has begun to find his place in Melbourne's backline after his flat start, and he and they look more comfortable with him there.

Poor reviews

Wait for it. Waiting. Waiting. Ok, coming up now on the scoreboard … umpire’s call.

As it should be more often – the umpire’s call and not the call of someone with a twitchy finger in the review room.

Left hanging: Jack Higgins looks at the scoreboard after kicking a goal in the third term. The decision was changed on review.

The score review system was supposed to give greater certainty, accuracy and clarity to decisions. Predominantly and at frustratingly great length it has done that, but not always. There is still a degree of guessing in the review system and that is where it falls short.

In judicial terms the review should apply the beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof, not the balance of probabilities. Too often it feels like the reviewer is taking a best guess based on inconclusive video.

A system designed to reduce errors should not introduce them.

Damien Hardwick was frustrated when a Jack Higgins goal was over-ruled because the person reviewing it reckoned Tom Hickey had got his hands on it just before all of the ball crossed the goal line. If Hickey did touch it first, the video replay was inconclusive. It appeared to be wafer-thin evidence on which to overturn the goal.

Hardwick’s logic of not wasting time and momentum by having only until the next centre bounce to over-turn a patently wrong goal is meritorious but also somewhat overlooks the alternative. What if it was a behind paid when it should have been a goal? A kick-in after a behind happens a lot faster than the centre bounce.

Touchy subject

Willie Rioli tapped Ray Chamberlain on the bum. He intended to touch an umpire and clearly made contact with the umpire. Ray wasn’t upset, but realized the precarious line players are treading and mentioned so to Willie on the ground.

On the basis of how the rules are presently constructed and the cases we have seen this year, Rioli will be charged and suspended for a week.

This is the rabbit hole that we have to now wonder whether we should go down.

When there is a blanket ‘don’t touch umpires’ rule to be applied, then even the friendly and off-hand touch falls under the rule and draws a suspension.

Given the comments of the appeals board after the Curnow brothers had one appeal sustained and the other upheld, it can be assumed that a tribunal would be reluctant to clear another player for touching an umpire.

That all puts back to the match review panel – Michael Christian and Steve Hocking – to decide if they send it up to the tribunal. The rules do not allow for friendly contact, just contact. Do we want to see players suspended for that?

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