A heated exchange between Brisbane’s Lincoln McCarthy and Melbourne’s Harrison Petty has drawn the ire of Demons coach Simon Goodwin, after McCarthy appeared to wipe mock tears from his eyes during Friday night’s final at the MCG.
The last time these teams played, Petty had to be consoled by teammates and club staff after he was reduced to tears following a sledge from Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Lincoln McCarthy and Harrison Petty go at it.
Analysis, local footy and the biggest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of footy shows for every fan. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
Zorko later apologised but admitted he was also copping plenty of on-field abuse from Melbourne players.
Zorko was widely booed by Demons fans during last night’s sequel, but Brisbane supporters could also be heard giving it to Petty.
The battle may not have been as nasty as that round 23 match, but it wasn’t without fireworks.
When asked if he had seen the McCarthy gesture to Petty, Goodwin bristled in the post-match press conference.
“I didn’t see but I’d be pretty disappointed if that was the case,” Goodwin said.
But then Goodwin appeared to give the club’s culture a back-hander.
“That’s not really our issue. That’s their issue. It’s their footy club. If that’s how they want to act, then it’s up to them.
“That’s not how we act at our footy club.”
Goodwin also admitted he was feeling “empty” following the Demons’ “devastating” straight-sets exit.
After spending their entire premiership defence inside the top-four, the season ended in an extraordinary fashion.
The Demons had smashed Brisbane during their past four encounters – the most recent win by 58 points at the Gabba just three weeks ago – but they fell to the Lions when it mattered.
Brisbane booted 11 second-half goals to five to run over the top of the Demons 14.8 (92) to 11.13 (79), knocking them out of the finals after they finished second on the ladder.
Goodwin said he was heartbroken for Demons supporters who were not able to travel to Perth to watch last year’s drought-breaking grand final win over the Western Bulldogs.
St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt was unimpressed with McCarthy during the game, and believed he was not committed to one contest where he went back with the flight of the ball with one hand.
“When the ball’s there, the really important stuff to be won, and you don’t win it and then you want to carry on with the rubbing of the eyes stuff …,” Riewoldt said.
“I think when you look at the contest, Brisbane haven’t been as tough as they wanted to be.
“So bit of by-play, McCarthy goes with the rubbing of the eyes, ‘you cried against us last time’ – but I’m saying when the ball’s there to be won, that’s the real test and you failed it.”
Melbourne promised to go back-to-back in front of their fans in Victoria, with finals football returning to the MCG for the first time since 2019.
“Disappointing, devastating, the result, I can only imagine our supporters and how they would feel,” Goodwin said.
“Our players and staff are all feeling the same.
“We did something pretty special last year and we wanted to make sure we came back to the MCG and let them feel what we felt and we weren’t able to do that.
“You feel pretty empty at the moment, but we’ll lick our wounds and come back better as a footy club.”
Goodwin disputed the theory Melbourne had become comfortable after winning 17-straight games from the end of last year into the first-half of this season.
Melbourne went 6-8 after winning the opening 10 games of the season.
“There was no comfort in our group, we had enough lessons throughout the year and were exposed to some of the things we needed to get better at,” Goodwin said.
“In finals, your vulnerabilities find you in big games when it matters.”
Melbourne carried a number of sore players into the game, most notably Norm Smith medallist Christian Petracca (leg) and captain Max Gawn (groin), but Goodwin refused to use injuries as an excuse for the shock loss.
Despite dealing with a hairline fracture in his leg and a corked calf, Petracca collected 27 possessions to finish as one of Melbourne’s best.
“I don’t think Christian Petracca looked sore tonight, I think he actually played to a pretty high level,” Goodwin said.
“Our fade-outs have been a trend. It wasn’t because the injured players were out there.”
Attention will now turn to Melbourne’s trade period, with speculation young star tall Luke Jackson will request a move to Fremantle.