Shirt Front: Lindsay Thomas set for a fall after big dive

LINDSAY Thomas went sprawling forward like he had been thrown off a 20-storey building.

The North Melbourne goalsneak will surely land today on the Match Review Panel's list of offenders from the weekend - officially for staging, unofficially for terrible acting.

Either Thomas' direct opponent, Geelong veteran James Kelly, has some incredible strength in his fingertips, or the Kangaroo took a not-so-subtle dive that may have won him a free-kick in front of goal during the battle at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, but lost him more respect in the footy world.

The umpire officiating was obviously duped during the third-quarter incident, but the MRP is unlikely to be.

His own coach, Brad Scott, certainly wasn't, saying after the game that he "wasn't happy with that.

"We don't condone it ... whether it is a free kick, or not just play the ball, mark the ball".

No player pushes an opponent that hard these days that they go flying forward like Thomas did, certainly not one such as the experienced Kelly, who was making his 250th appearance for the Cats.

Thomas didn't hit anyone - on the deck - and Reece Conca's elbow to the back of Devon Smith's head during the Tigers-Giants clash earlier on Saturday was a far nastier incident.

But, Thomas' embarrassing dive has caused more of an outcry from the general footy public - it's something they expect to see on a soccer field, not on the tough arena of Aussie rules.

The rule book says staging is an "excessive exaggeration of contact in an unsportsmanlike manner" and is a "reportable offence as it may affect umpires' decision-making; incite a melee; and/or not be in the spirit of the game".

Thomas duly went back and kicked the goal - lucky it didn't cost the Cats the game.

So what's the punishment? A suspension? A fine? A reprimand?

While it would be great to see Thomas made an example of, it will most likely be the latter as it will be the first official citing of the livewire forward for staging.

Essendon's Leroy Jetta in 2012 and Carlton's Jarrad Waite earlier this year both suffered the same punishment for similar offences.

But, as a serial stager, this latest incident could have serious ramifications for the remainder of Thomas' career.

As coach, Scott rightly pointed out: "I would hate to see Lindsay not getting free kicks when he's genuinely infringed because there's a perception that he plays for it ... he's got to stop doing it".

While Thomas took centre stage, the performance of his team leaves a lot to be desired. The Kangaroos can look like a premiership-contender at times, but it's only an act.

They have now lost two games in a row for the first time this season and find themselves at the head of the bunch of five teams within four points of one another battling for the bottom three spots in the top eight.

They are running the risk of taking a substantial dive of their own.


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