North Melbourne defender Michael Firrito remains confused by the contentious deliberate rushed behind decision which cost the Kangaroos an early goal in Saturday night’s costly AFL loss to Port Adelaide.
Firrito was being tackled by Power forward Charlie Dixon in the goalsquare when he sent a handball across the goal-line.
Umpire Justin Schmitt penalised Firrito, gifting Port’s Jay Schulz the easiest of goals.
“There were other players in the vicinity I was trying to handball to and it went through the behinds,” Firrito told reporters on Sunday.
“I’m a little bit confused.”
Ninth-placed Port went on to win the match by 28 points and keep their slim finals hopes alive.
North Melbourne have slipped all the way to eighth spot after a sixth loss in their past seven matches.
Less than a month after he was fined $30,000 for unloading on the umpires, it was understandable when Kangaroos coach Brad Scott decided not to tee off regarding the controversial decision against Firrito.
“We won’t be seeking clarification, I’m sure there will be enough comment on it,” Scott said.
But Scott added North would definitely be interested in the wash-up from the incident.
“Whatever the AFL says in response to the questions that everyone will ask, we’ve got to take note of it because we don’t want to be giving away free kicks like that again,” he said.
That and Port’s second goal moments later, when North lost a defensive ruck duel and the ball landed in Chad Wingard’s lap, set the scene for another loss.
Port blitzed North with 6.3 to five behinds in the first quarter as Kangaroos star Todd Goldstein struggled against part-time ruckman Jackson Trengove.
Goldstein has struggled for form since a knee injury in round 10, but Scott said the ruckman would not want any excuses.
“He’d be really frustrated if he thought that anyone was giving him an excuse or alibi for poor performance,” Scott said.
“He’s a really proud footballer … so he’d be disappointed.
“My job as coach is to help him.”