Cats coach floats 25m penalty for AFLW as costly 50m penalties mount

Geelong's AFLW coach Paul Hood wants the 50-metre penalty retained for the women's competition despite figures showing the huge impact it has on scoring in AFLW games.

The rate of goals kicked directly after a 50-metre penalty in the first four rounds of the 2020 season has doubled that of the men's competition in 2019.

Cats coach Paul Hood has floated the idea of a 25-metre penalty to be awarded at the umpires’ discretion.Credit:Getty Images

However he says the AFL should consider at their end of season review giving umpires discretion to award a 25- or 50-metre penalty, depending on the nature of the offence.

A whopping 5.6 per cent of the 248 goals kicked in the 2020 AFLW season have come directly after a 50-metre penalty has been awarded, with just 2.7 per cent of the 4601 goals kicked in last year's AFL season coming immediately after a 50-metre penalty.

With very few female players in the AFLW able to kick 50 metres and goalscoring difficult, a 50-metre penalty – which is applied in the same manner as the AFL – that results in a goal can be game- and season-changing.

On Sunday, St Kilda's Molly McDonald gave away a 50-metre penalty with two minutes remaining that enabled Fremantle's Kate Flood to kick a goal and level the scores. The Dockers scored a point and won the game.

Despite the decision being correct, Saints coach Peta Searle questioned post-match whether awarding the penalty was within the spirit of the game.

"When we want to give free kicks to the letter of the law or when we want to say 'it's grey' and 'when's the spirit of the game?', I don't think it should be decided by an umpire's ­decision," Searle said.

"I think it should be looked at."

In Geelong's win over Richmond in Bendigo on Saturday, several goals were kicked as a result of 50-metre penalties but Hood said he had no problem with the penalty.

"I think there definitely should be 50-metre penalties in AFLW just like there is in the men's competition, however sometimes the 50-metre penalty seems too severe for how technical the infringement is," Hood said.

"The umpire can decide whether someone was deliberately trying to waste time and they might pay a 50-metre for that or if there is a slight technical infringement – I guess someone hasn't followed the rules which need to be followed – then maybe what we need is a 25-metre penalty that doesn't always result in an easy score to the opposition."

Carlton's AFLW coach Daniel Harford said the 50-metre penalty should be retained but wanted a 50-metre penalty only applied for legitimate transgressions of the rules rather than minor infringements.

The AFL confirmed there were no plans to make any rule changes mid-season with the competition committee reviewing rules when the season is over. The AFLW uses a smaller Sherrin than the men while they also play with 16 a side.

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