After a week dominated by questions of hardness at the AFL tribunal, Demons fans will spend the next week ruing a soft free kick.
With their match with the Bulldogs hanging on a knife-edge, a late decision to award Stewart Crameri a feather-light in-the-back call was a game-changer.
Lynden Dunn, the offending defender, threw his hands in the air in disbelief before the ex-Bomber went back and slotted the goal.
Melbourne coach Paul Roos was amazed by the decision, which led to the Bulldogs taking a lead they never gave up.
“In all seriousness, what was it for?” he said.
“I’m not trying to be smart, I didn’t know what it was for.”
While the Bulldogs would go on to earn their 16-point win, it was not the only decision to raise Roos’ ire.
The premiership coach said he was “absolutely staggered” an earlier hit by Liam Jones on Dean Terlich, which led to the backman’s substitution, didn’t earn a whistle.
“I’m pretty sure he got hit in the head because he came off concussed and couldn’t go back on.”
For his part, Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney wouldn’t speculate on whether Jones would be the subject of a match review report, claiming to have missed the incident.
He instead saluted the performance of sore and injured players, particularly Tom Williams, who were able to grind out the victory.
“We had some brave soldiers out there,” he said.
“I felt our boys were up for it all night, we had a good start which was a focus.”
“It was an important win for where we’re at.”
The injury-prone big man returned to kick two crucial second half goals.
While there is no doubt Roos was stung by the narrow loss, the result give both sides hope for improvement this season.
The Bulldogs snap a three-game losing streak to sit 3-5, which McCartney declared himself happy with.
Roos’ said his side would continue their recovery from last season’s nadir.
“A game goes for 120 minutes. We were pretty good for long periods tonight but the Bulldogs were better for longer and that’s why they won,” he said.
“It’s coming together. We’re making in-roads in certain areas.”