The Melbourne Demons’ clash with the West Coast Eagles was suspended during the fourth quarter due to lightning near Optus Stadium.
The Demons had enjoyed a dominant third term — kicking five goals to one — and looked ready to go on with the contest and reclaim top spot on the AFL ladder.
But Melbourne’s plans were thrown into disarray when the umpires brought the game to a grinding halt.
Per the AFL’s rule book, a match may be suspended if lightning within 10 kilometres of the ground poses a threat to gameplay.
Players from both sides returned to the rooms to await further instructions.
In the event that the game could not resume within 60 minutes, the team with the highest score when the match was suspended would be deemed the winner.
“I don’t know if this has happened in a game of football before,” said Channel 7’s Brian Taylor.
“It’s also going to require a certain amount of time to warm up, get going again. And by that time, I reckon most of the supporters might be out the gate.
“This can’t go on indefinitely. I mean, a five-10 minute rest, you go, ‘Ok they can do that’, but if this was to go on for the next half an hour to an hour, I would say there’s some doubt whether the game would get underway again.
“This is bizarre.”
Sideline reporter Xavier Ellis added: “It might be West Coast’s best chance here (to make a comeback). There was one little crack of lightning and some thunder and before you knew it some AFL officials were quickly on to the field, halted the game and the players are now being asked to huddle up and move towards the rooms.”
Contrary to speculation, lightning has previously halted games, although it is a rare occurrence.
An AFLW game between the Blues and Giants was suspended due to lightning in 2018.
In round one of the 2014 AFL season, the Giants and Swans found their match delayed by 25 minutes when lightning struck close to Spotless Stadium.
After approximately 25 minutes break, Monday night’s game recommenced at 8:53pm local time (10:53pm AEST).