The bump doesn’t need to involve high-profile players to be topical – Jack Viney proved that – but the presence of superstars Gary Ablett and Luke Hodge among the weekend’s high-contact incidents all but ensures more intense focus on the match review panel this week.
As does an incident involving Ablett that would, if taken seriously, throw the Brownlow Medal count into chaos.
Ablett was the aggressor in an incident with the Western Bulldogs’ Liam Picken on Sunday that has the potential to threaten his eligibility for this year’s Brownlow, for which he is the raging favourite.
The incident involving Ablett and Picken was reminiscent of an incident four years ago in which Carlton’s Chris Judd was cleared for throwing his elbow back into the face of Matthew Pavlich. While that blow drew blood, and was still deemed too minor to warrant a charge, Ablett’s did not, as he lay on the turf with Picken behind him. It seemed likely, but not certain, that Ablett made high contact to Picken.
An offence that draws a base penalty of more than 100 points makes that player ineligible for the Brownlow. If Ablett is cited and is deemed to have been reckless and made high contact, it would trigger a 125-point penalty.
The Gold Coast captain was also the victim in a contest that resulted in fellow Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney being reported for forceful front-on contact.
Hawthorn captain Hodge is likely to be scrutinised for a bump intended for the shoulder of Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingard that slid up and caught his opponent high.
Hawthorn’s Taylor Duryea is also set to be investigated for a shirtfront on Port Adelaide’s Kane Mitchell – which was hailed by retired Richmond forward Nathan Brown as ‘‘the perfect bump’’ – because it seemingly involved some contact to his opponent’s head.
Cooney was reported for an incident not dissimilar to last weekend’s collision between Sydney’s Dan Hannebery and Essendon’s Michael Hurley, for which the Swan was exonerated by the panel.
As Ablett bent down to collect the ball, Cooney approached low from the side, almost as a slide, and made contact with Ablett’s head. Ablett received a free kick and Cooney was reported by Mathew Nicholls.
One factor that may go against Cooney is that Ablett, unlike Hurley, did not fumble the ball, and only relinquished it after the collision.
Dogs coach Brendan McCartney was confident Cooney would escape suspension. ‘‘We all know, everyone in Australia now knows, that a visit to the tribunal or a suspension hinges sometimes on one or two centimetres, up or down or sideways, and there’ll be more adjudication and more talk about it, but I think there was a nice precedent set last week,’’ he said.
Even if Cooney is charged, he is unlikely to face suspension because he would benefit from a 25 per cent discount for his unblemished record over the past six years.
A grading of negligent low impact and high contact would trigger a penalty of 125 points, which would be reduced to 93.75 – within the reprimand threshold – even before the option of a further discount for a good record. A higher penalty – a two-match ban that could be cut to one – would most likely require Cooney’s act to be deemed reckless.
Hodge could be scrutinised for an incident in which he made no attempt to gather the ball but instead elected to bump Wingard.
He could escape a ban if the panel deems most of the impact was to Wingard’s shoulder and the secondary high contact warranted the free kick he received.
If Hodge is charged, a reprimand would be out of the question because of 60 carry-over points he accrued last year.
If his teammate Duryea is charged for his bump on Mitchell, which similarly seemed to involve most impact being below his opponent’s head, a classification of negligent, low impact and high contact would allow him to make a guilty plea to downgrade a one-match ban to a reprimand.
Besides the bumps, the panel is also set to make judgments on a number of petty off-the-ball strikes.
GWS’ Jeremy Cameron, Collingwood’s Jarryd Blair, and Port’s Hamish Hartlett all delivered blows to the midriff of an opponent. None of the three strikes are likely to be rated, at worst, intentional conduct, low impact and high contact.
While such a classification would be enough for Cameron and Blair to reduce a one-match ban to a reprimand, for Hartlett the base penalty of 125 would be inflated to 193.75 as a combination of his 20 per cent loading for a bad record and 43.75 carry-over points. Even with a guilty plea, he would have to serve a one-match suspension, with 45.31 carry-over points.
MATCH REVIEW PANEL – RD 10 PREDICTIONS
Adams (NM) rough conduct to Lonergan (Geel). No charge; no realistic alternative to gain possession.
Cameron (GWS) striking Grimes (Rich). No charge; insufficient impact.
Blair (Coll) striking M. Brown (WC). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points (1 match); 93.75 with guilty plea (reprimand).
Duryea (Haw) rough conduct to Mitchell (PA). Negligent, low impact, high contact. 125 points (1 match); 93.75 with guilty plea (reprimand).
Hodge (Haw) rough conduct to Wingard (PA). No charge; insufficient impact.
Hartlett (PA) striking Hill (Haw). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points up due to loading and carry-over to 193.75 (1 match); 145.31 with guilty plea (1 match suspension).
Reported: Cooney (WB) forceful front-on contact to Ablett (GC). Negligent, low impact, high contact. 125 down due to good record to 93.75 (reprimand); 70.31 with guilty plea (reprimand).
Ablett (GC) striking Picken (WB). No charge; insufficient impact.