Lance Franklin bumps Clay Cameron. Photo: Courtesy Fox Footy
Injury could yet rule out one half of the “Buddy and Tippett show”, but the match review panel has shown mercy on Franklin, ensuring Sydney will remain at near full-strength for one of this season’s biggest matches against Port Adelaide.
Star forward Franklin will front the Swans challenge against the Power after the match review panel ruled on Monday that his late bump on Gold Coast’s Clay Cameron was not worthy of a suspension due to insufficient force.
With Franklin free to play, the Swans will find out on Tuesday whether Kurt Tippett will also be available for Saturday’s SCG blockbuster, with the marquee recruit set to have scans on the left knee he injured against Gold Coast.
The Franklin verdict was one of several outcomes from Monday certain to create debate, with the other notable assessment being the panel’s decision to send Fremantle agitator Hayden Ballantyne directly to the tribunal for his bump on Adelaide’s Matthew Jaensch.
It was the view of the panel that Ballantyne’s bump, which left Jaensch with concussion, was worthy of a rough conduct charge.
However, when the panel graded the incident, and then factored in Ballantyne’s bad record, it decided that the penalty was too severe for the offence, and therefore that the matter should be heard by the tribunal.
The AFL would not reveal the initial grading of the Ballantyne bump, however the Docker’s poor record would have meant that a 10 per cent loading and 87.5 carry-over points would have been attached.
Vision of the incident shows Ballantyne choosing to bump Jaensch as both players chased a loose ball - collecting the Crow high with a hip-and-shoulder.
While Ballantyne will have to defend himself at a tribunal hearing this week, Franklin becomes the latest beneficiary of the AFL’s evolving stance on the bump and low-grade head-high contact.
The panel ruled that the down-the-ground free kick paid to the Suns for Franklin’s late bump was sufficient punishment, despite the fact Franklin caught Cameron in the head with his shoulder as he kicked the ball.
Franklin, playing for Hawthorn last year, was rubbed out for the first week of the finals after accepting a one-match ban for a similar incident where he put down now teammate Nick Malceski with a late bump as the Swan kicked the ball.
In that incident, the brunt of Franklin’s bump appeared to strike Malceski in the head, whereas the majority of his bump on Cameron was delivered to the upper body and neck region, and the impact was more severe in the Malceski case given the Swans defender was subbed out of the game.
In other key MRV findings, the bad news kept coming for Richmond, with Tyrone Vickery and Matt Thomas both cited for offences and offered suspensions with early pleas.
Vickery’s strike on North Melbourne defender Michael Firrito from the first quarter of Sunday’s game was deemed to be intentional, medium impact and high contact, adding up to a three-match suspension, which can be reduced to two if he accepts.
Thomas, meanwhile, had a possible reprimand upgraded to a one-match sanction due to his poor record, after the panel decided he had engaged in rough conduct with North Melbourne champion Brent Harvey during an incident in the second quarter that put Harvey to the ground.
Roos All-Australian Scott Thompson can accept a reprimand for striking Tiger Jack Riewoldt after the panel decided the impact was low and the conduct negligent.
St Kilda defender Tom Simpkin has also been offered a reprimand for striking Port Adelaide’s Aaron Young, and Essendon defender David Myers can do likewise, with the panel giving his elbow to the bicep and head of Greater Western Sydney forward Devon Smith the same grading as that of Thompson.
Giants ruckman Shane Mumford was not cited for his elbow to the back of Myers' head although vision of the incident that occurred during a scuffle shortly after the Myers-Smith clash, was assessed.