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Gary Ablett cleared by match review panel

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Jesse Hogan
Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett was cleared for this off-the-ball blow to Liam Picken. © Channel Seven Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett was cleared for this off-the-ball blow to Liam Picken.

The match review panel's belief Gary Ablett flung his elbow into opponent Liam Picken's chest, rather than his head, seemingly helped preserve his eligibility to win a record-equalling third Brownlow Medal.

The Gold Coast champion remains the raging favourite for the game's top individual honour after the panel decided he had no case to answer for a blow to his Western Bulldogs opponent because it considered it too petty to warrant a charge.

"After viewing all available footage and with the [panel] conducting an investigation into the matter, it was the view of the panel the contact made to the body was below that required to constitute a reportable offence," the panel said.

Investigations by the panel into incidents that lack clear video footage, such as what occurred at the weekend, typically involve the victim being ask to explain what occurred.

It looked likely - but not certain - from the grainy footage that Ablett made contact to Picken's head.

Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge also escaped penalty for a high bump to Port Adelaide's Chad Wingard because of insufficient impact.

Bulldogs midfielder Adam Cooney's match-day report for forceful front-on contact against Ablett was thrown out because the panel deemed he had no realistic alternative in trying to win possession ahead of Ablett, the rationale used last week in the sparing of Sydney's Dan Hannebery.

"The ball was loose with Ablett and Cooney coming to the contest at right angles to each other," the panel said. "Ablett and Cooney each bend down with their hands out in front of them in a bid to win possession of the loose ball and contact is made . . . Cooney was contesting the ball and had no realistic alternative way to contest the ball."

The only two players assured of suspension from round 10, barring a successful tribunal challenge, are Port Adelaide's Hamish Hartlett and the Western Bulldogs' Clay Smith.

Hartlett was punished for a behind-play blow to the midriff of Hawthorn's Brad Hill, while Smith was punished for rough conduct against Gold Coast's Luke Russell.

Hartlett's ban cannot change from one match, while Smith risks missing an extra match if he challenges the penalty at the tribunal.

Collingwood's Jarryd Blair and Greater Western Sydney's Jeremy Cameron were also charged with off-the-ball striking incidents. Both were given a one-match ban that can be cut to a reprimand with a guilty plea.

All three striking incidents were deemed intentional, low impact and body contact. Hartlett was ineligible for a reprimand because of carry-over points.

Cameron also received a $2400 fine, which can be cut to $1800 with a guilty plea, for misconduct for placing Richmond's Dylan Grimes in a headlock.

Cameron (GWS) striking Grimes (Rich). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points (1 match); 93.75 with guilty plea (reprimand).

Cameron (GWS) misconduct against Grimes (RIch). $2400 fine; $1800 with guilty plea.

Blair (Coll) striking M.Brown (WC). Intentional, low impact, body contact. 125 points (1 match); 93.75 with guilty plea (reprimand).

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).

Smith (WB) rough conduct to Russell (GC). Reckless, low impact, high contact. 225 points (2 matches); 168.75 points with guilty plea (1 match).

Lynch (GC) first offence, negligent umpire contact. $1200 fine; $900 with guilty plea.

Investigated but not charged:
Hodge (Haw) rough conduct to Wingard (PA). Cooney (WB) forceful front-on contact to Ablett (GC). Ablett (GC) striking Picken (WB). Picken (WB) striking Ablett (WB).

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