Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps’ two-match ban for his high hit on Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee has been upheld at the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night, in a mega blow to the Blues’ top-eight hopes.
Cripps tried to overturn his suspension for a shot on Ah Chee in Carlton’s loss to Brisbane at the Gabba on Sunday, which had been graded by the AFL’s match review officer as careless conduct, high impact and high contact.
Ah Chee was concussed and substituted out of the game, with the 24-year-old missing five training days and one to two matches.
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Cripps will miss Carlton’s remaining regular-season clashes with Melbourne and Collingwood after a court hearing that lasted almost two hours.
Carlton, who won eight of its first 10 games of the season before tumbling down the ladder, must win at least one of its last two matches to qualify for its first finals campaign since 2013.
Court chairman Jeff Gleeson said the Cripps incident fell into the “bumping of an opponent” category and it was not a reasonable way to contest the ball.
“He entered the contest at speed and saw a player in his peripheral vision, left his feet and bumped Ah Chee at high speed,” Gleeson said.
“He should have answered the ball differently. He could have taken the ball with his arms outstretched so there was no act of bumping at all.”
Cripps argued in court that his eyes were “purely fixed on the ball.”
“No way I can answer that ball without a collision being there,” he added.
“What I’m appealing to the members of the jury … if the ball is in dispute in an aerial contest, if that ball is in front of you and you can get it, you go for it. That’s your job as a footballer. “
Willie Rioli’s one-game ban for contact with Matt Rowell in round one was abolished at the tribunal, which Cripps’ laywer, Peter O’Farrell, raised on Tuesday night.
O’Farrell also argued Cripps didn’t bump Ah Chee.
“The incident occurred in an aerial contest in which players both had eyes on the ball. There was no bump,” he said.
“It was reasonable to answer the ball the way he did.
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“It wasn’t rough conduct, he didn’t bump … therefore it was not careless.”
O’Farrell also said it was “a very even contest with milliseconds in it.”
“The consequences of impact do not determine the reasonableness of an action,” O’Farrell added.
“Concussion is a serious issue in sport, but it’s not to be explained away by blaming players all the time.
“On occasion, there will be injury. Players can and do get hurt.”
On the contrary, AFL counsel Nicholas Pane argued Cripps wasn’t looking to contest the footy, rather “his intention was to forcefully bump Ah Chee.”
Earlier on Tuesday night, West Coast midfielder Tim Kelly failed in his attempt to scrap his one-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Adelaide’s Sam Berry.
Kelly’s tackle on Berry in the Eagles’ defeat to the Crows at Perth Stadium on Sunday had been assessed by the match review officer as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.
Gleeson said the potential to cause injury was “significant”, reasoning that Berry was slung 360 degrees with his feet off the ground and the arm that could have protected his fall pinned.
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