Sicily escapes suspension at AFL tribunal for kicking

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Captain James Sicily will play against Melbourne after Hawthorn had his kicking charge downgraded from a ban to a fine at the AFL tribunal.

Sicily was facing a one-game suspension for kicking Essendon opponent Andrew McGrath, but the Hawks convinced the tribunal the impact should be low, rather than medium.

The All-Australian defender, who pleaded guilty to the charge, was fined $2500.

Tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson KC said the panel agreed with Hawthorn advocate Myles Tehan that the risk of injury from the kick was “relatively low”.

Tehan had argued, using a golfing analogy, Sicily’s kick had “no long backswing” and if he’d kicked a football with the same motion, it probably would not have gone 10m.

But the Hawks’ bid to downgrade the penalty started badly with Gleeson disallowing their application to call McGrath as a witness.

The Bombers star had gone in to bat for Sicily on Monday, telling SEN the contact was “pretty innocuous” and he was not bruised.

The old “players’ code” means the tribunal now generally does not take evidence from victims and Gleeson said this did not qualify as an exception to that.

But Tehan argued successfully there was “no sensible way” the Sicily kick should have the same impact grading as an incident last season when Geelong’s Tom Atkins was charged with kicking St Kilda’s Jimmy Webster.

That incident, which left Webster writhing in pain, was graded as medium and resulted in a fine for the Cats player.

The medical report from Essendon presented to the tribunal backed up McGrath’s comments.

Meanwhile, Essendon coach Brad Scott has conceded they would not have been able to overturn Mason Redman’s one-match suspension for striking at the AFL tribunal.

Redman was charged with striking Hawthorn’s Jai Newcombe in an off-the-ball incident during the Bombers’ 24-point win on Saturday.

The contact was deemed as intentional and high contact, with low impact.

It resulted in an automatic one-match ban that means Redman will miss Essendon’s tough assignment against Sydney at the SCG in round two.

Bombers coach Scott felt the club owed it to their fans to consider challenging the match review officer’s decision in a bid to clear Redman to face the Swans.

But Scott, who was the AFL’s general manager of football before taking the Essendon job, felt it would have been a futile exercise.

“The AFL have really reverse-engineered this rule and they’ve written into the guidelines that an open hand can constitute a strike, and anything high and off the ball will be graded intentional,” Scott told Fox Footy on Monday night.

“You go through the guidelines and they’ve sort of made it so that we have absolutely no grounds or legal grounds for an appeal.

“We can on principle appeal it, but we’ll lose.”

Newcombe wasn’t seriously hurt by Redman in the second-quarter incident.

Gold Coast’s Malcolm Rosas Jr and Western Bulldogs recruit James Harmes have accepted one-match bans for headbutting opponents in round one.…Read more by AAP

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