Two lawn bowlers have been slapped with hefty bans for sparking an all-in brawl between two teams at a top-level game in Bendigo.
Leigh Thurwood was suspended from competition until the end of November after being found guilty of punching Tim Arnold in the face during a preliminary final on March 5.
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Arnold was also rubbed out until the end of October for making unnecessary contact with Thurwood, following a Bowls Victoria disciplinary hearing in Melbourne.
It's believed Arnold bumped Thurwood while celebrating a delivery by running down the rink, jumping over the bowls and high-fiving his teammates.
Thurwood retaliated with a blow to Arnold's head, reportedly causing a cut in his mouth. The incident sparked a melee involving players from both sides, delaying the game between Bendigo and Eaglehawk for at least 15 minutes.
"Bowls Victoria cannot and will not condone this type of behaviour," Bowls Victoria chief executive Graeme Bridge said. "If you step over the line, you do the time."
Arnold's Bendigo went on to win the match and play in the grand final, which they lost. The suspensions mean the pair cannot set foot on a bowling green anywhere in the world.
But with the local competition not resuming until September, the players will effectively only miss either four or eight weeks' of club action. They both pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including acting in a threatening and intimidating manner, and bringing the sport of bowls into disrepute.
But the Bowls Victoria disciplinary committee later found them guilty.