Optical illusion behind player’s crucifixion

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AFL: Hawthorn have moved into the top four for the first time this season after a nail biting win over North Melbourne.

Criticism of Atley was unfair.

THE Kangaroos had enough to worry about after their loss to Hawthorn on Friday night with coach Brad Scott’s misinformed criticism of the umpires, so they didn’t need any more controversy dominating the aftermath.

Unfortunately, Shaun Atley found himself at the centre of a storm that should never have existed in the first place.

Hawthorn’s Billy Hartung kicked a goal in the third term and vision emerged of Atley appearing to spit in the direction of the celebrating Hawks immediately afterwards. People hammered the half-back on Twitter and a video of the incident went viral on Facebook, leading to even more derogatory comments being thrown his way.

But he did absolutely nothing wrong.

As explained by Channel Seven’s Mark Stevens on AFL Game Day, a separate camera angle proved while the 23-year-old did spit, he did it nowhere near any opposition players.

Having his name cleared of any wrongdoing will be a rare bright spot for the Roos, who are dealing with the fallout from Scott’s post-match press conference where he accused the umpires of telling players they wouldn’t pay free kicks for high tackles to Lindsay Thomas because he was a “ducker”.

“I know he is (unfairly treated), because the umpires told our players, ‘Well, he’s a ducker so we don’t pay high kicks to Lindsay,’” Scott said.

“They told our guys that, so that’s clearly a preconceived idea. I just want the umpires to umpire what they see, not preconceived ideas.”

The club was forced to issue an apology for the accusation on Saturday when it was found Scott’s information was false.

Hawthorn’s 14.9 (93) to 11.18 (84) win on Friday night at Etihad Stadium was the fourth time this season the Hawks have prevailed by fewer than 10 points.

James Sicily kicked a career-high five goals for the Hawks, while Cyril Rioli and Jordan Lewis were outstanding as Daniel Wells and Robbie Tarrant starred for North.

The Kangaroos twice reduced the margin to less than a goal in the last quarter before Paul Puopolo kicked a goal in the last 30 seconds from a free kick to seal the result.

Atley came under misguided fire.

Atley came under misguided fire.Source:Getty Images

North were left ruing a big lost opportunity and have now been defeated by Sydney, Geelong and Hawthorn — all fellow top-four contenders — in the past month.

Given the history between the teams, it came as no surprise this was a fiery clash.

Last season, Lewis and his captain Luke Hodge were suspended for big hits as their team belted North by 10 goals.

On Friday night, the Kangaroos made it clear from the start they would not be intimidated. Players scuffled at quarter-time and there were words exchanged at each break.

While the Hawks are renowned for playing “unsociable” football in these sorts of big matches, North rattled them early.

The Kangaroos kicked three of the first four goals, enjoyed a 13-3 free kick count and should have been much further ahead at quarter time.

But they blew their big chance and at half-time led by only two points with a wasteful 4.11.

Their rash of injuries continued as Luke McDonald suffered a hamstring injury in the second term.

Wells was easily best afield before he hobbled off in the second term with a sore ankle. He was able to play out the game but was not as prominent.

with AAP

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