Ablett in the clear
Gary Ablett celebrates a goal in Geelong’s 24-point win over North Melbourne. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)
BROWNLOW Medallists Gary Ablett and Nat Fyfe raised their elbows, struck opponents in the head and avoided any form of AFL sanction.
North Melbourne rookie Sam Durdin laid a bump on Gary Rohan, the pair accidentally clashed heads and Durdin got a week.
Impact – and not intent – primarily appears to determine a player’s fate under the AFL’s match review process.
Match review officer Michael Christian on Monday declared neither Ablett nor Fyfe had cases to answer for their respective incidents in round eight.
Christian said there was insufficient force for a charge against Geelong star Ablett – who ran off his line to collect Kangaroos opponent Sam Wright in the head with a raised forearm – even though he classified the clash as an intentional strike.
The same reason was given for no action against Fyfe after his high contact with Richmond’s Tom Lynch.
But North’s nine-gamer Durdin was handed a one-match suspension for an incident Christian classified as careless conduct, not intentional.
One difference was that both Wright and Lynch were quickly back on their feet, while Rohan was knocked out.
Christian said he had considered a range of factors including the visible look of the incident, the potential to cause harm, the Kangaroos medical report and Wright’s reaction.
While Shiel spent about 10 seconds on the ground, Wright was back on his feet within a couple of seconds.
“That was a consideration, but amongst a whole range of other factors,” Christian told reporters.
“There needs to be more than negligible force to constitute a reportable offence and I didn’t think there was sufficient force in this particular case.”
The decisions mean both Ablett and Fyfe remain eligible for this year’s Brownlow Medal, while Durdin may well be heading to the tribunal on Tuesday night.
Ablett’s escape from sanction can be considered particularly surprising considering it was near-identical to his challenge on Essendon’s Dylan Shiel the week before.
The 34-year-old was initially handed a one-match ban for his head-high hit on Shiel in round seven, before having it overturned on appeal.
The fact Ablett has walked the tightrope two weeks in a row and – along with another superstar player in Fyfe – managed to avoid any form of sanction is unlikely to go down well with fans, particularly North Melbourne supporters.
But Christian said it was not his role to consider a deterrent effect and he and football operations manager Steve Hocking looked at each incident separately.
Christian also denied he had been influenced by the tribunal overturning Ablett’s suspension last week.
“There’s no consideration of what happened last week or the week before,” Christian said.
“It’s assessed on its merits and that’s how this particular incident was assessed.”
West Coast key defender Jeremy McGovern copped a $2000 rough conduct fine for off-the-ball body hit on St Kilda’s Blake Acres.
Hawthorn’s James Frawley also copped a $2000 rough conduct fine for pushing GWS opponent Jeremy Cameron into the boundary fence.
Carlton’s Sam Walsh was fined $1000 for misconduct on Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey.
(C) AAP 2019