The NEAFL grand final has ended in controversy after Southport Sharks were found to have 19 men on the field — but didn’t have their score reset.
Southport were leading Sydney 12.4 (76) to 2.4 (16) 30 seconds into the fourth quarter when umpires called for a head count, which showed the Sharks had 19 men on the field.
Watch the incident here (at around the 2:49:30 mark):
As a result, Sydney’s Colin O’Riordan was awarded a free kick and a 50 metre penalty, goalling from just in front.
The Sharks didn’t have their score reset to zero despite precedent, with GWS Giants reserves having their score taken off them after being caught with an extra man last year.
NEAFL officials later clarified that in accordance with AFL by-laws the scores weren’t required to be reset, despite this sub-clause in the AFL rules:
5.5.3 Players Exceeding Permitted Number
Where a Team has more than the permitted number of Players on the Playing Surface, the following shall apply:
(a) a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick to the captain or acting captain of the opposing Team, which shall be taken at the Centre Circle or where play was stopped, whichever is the greater penalty against the offending Team;
(b) a Fifty-Metre Penalty shall then be imposed from the position where the Free Kick was awarded; and
(c) the Team shall lose all points which it has scored in the Match up to the time of the count.
Southport went on to win the game 14.6 (90) to 5.5 (35) after being allowed to keep their score.
Had the Sharks’ score been wiped, they’d have lost 2.2 (14) to 5.5 (35).
Instead, they are crowned NEAFL champions.