The match review panel had two recidivists to deal with this week. It spared one and penalised the other when it should have done the opposite.
Geelong’s Steve Johnson boasts champion skills but not a champion temperament. While it was foolish of him to put himself in danger of a second suspension this season, the incident he has been penalised for was clearly the most trifling of the many trifling incidents he has involved himself in.
He has been offered a one-match suspended for falling into North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson with his knee. When he was found guilty of the same offence last year he was on his feet and actually dropped to his knees, successfully aiming at the midriff of Melbourne’s Nathan Jones. On Saturday night his body position barely changed as he pushed his knee into Thompson, with his left leg still standing.
It was unnecessary, and would have been only a reprimand had Johnson not have such a bad record. But among all of the wily Cat’s cheeky misdemeanours it was minor enough to have been settled with an on-field penalty.
The charging of Johnson was harsh, but comparatively not as bad as Brisbane’s Daniel Merrett not being charged for his late spoil on Melbourne’s Cam Pedersen. It was not a good look that Pedersen was forced to leave the field with a bloodied nose, although that is not why Merrett should have been charged.
The Demon was backpeddling to take a high mark. He grasped the ball marginally before Merrett, coming towards him, jumped off the ground in an attempt to spoil.
That Merrett’s fist made contact to the ball in Pedersen’s grasp just before his elbow walloped his opponent’s face was cited as the reason he avoided charge, that the impact was an accidental repercussion of a legitimate spoil.
Too much was made of that touch to the ball. Pedersen already had it.
In round six Hawthorn’s Josh Gibson was charged for an spoil in which he, unlike Merrett, jumped well before his opponent had marked, because he made contact to the head of Richmond’s Reece Conca. Gibson’s attempt was more legitimate than Merrett’s was.
Furthermore, that Merrett arrived late to a contest and clashed forcefully with an opponent was not anomalous. Since the start of 2012 there have been four occasions in which he has been scrutinised by the panel in those circumstances.
It will not be as big a millstone around the panel’s neck as its astonishing decision not to charge Lance Franklin for a high bump in round 12, but it’s in the same hall of shame.