Rioli and Lake set to miss start of season 2014

Hawthorn’s Brian Lake has been offered a three-match ban. Photo: Channel 7 Nick SUban and Sam Mitchell clash
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Cyril Rioli has been offered a one match ban for this incident with Docker Michael Barlow. Photo: Channel Seven

Nick Suban will face the tribunal for this incident with Hawk Sam Mitchell. Photo: Channel Seven

Cyril Rioli is officially on notice for his habit of dragging the arm of opponents in tackles after he and Hawthorn premiership teammate Brian Lake were offered suspensions by the match review panel.

The Hawks are set for delayed starts to 2014 after being offered bans of, respectively, one and three matches for incidents out of Saturday’s grand final. Both were hampered by the AFL policy of doubling punishments for incidents that occur in grand finals.

Fremantle’s Nick Suban has been referred directly to the tribunal for grabbing at the cheek of Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell. Rather than that being because of the seriousness of the offence, however, the referral was seemingly because the panel believed the prescribed base penalty of three matches, which would have doubled to six, would have been too severe.

Rioli has been punished for an incident involving the Dockers’ Michael Barlow in which he forcefully pushed his opponent’s arm behind his back as part of a tackle. Match review panel chairman Mark Fraser said the Hawks midfielder forward had done similar in the past, notably against the Western Bulldogs’ Ryan Griffen in round 17, but that this latest incident was more severe.

Fraser rated Rioli’s tackle on Barlow, in which he grabbed him by his right arm as “great” but said the problem was that he then “continues on past that and takes his arm backwards”.

“We think that that’s unnecessary and unreasonable in the circumstances,” Fraser told the AFL website.

“There has been occasions in the past where Rioli has grabbed people by the arm like that and briefly held it there, but this time he’s gone a bit too far. We were looking last time when he did it on Ryan Griffen; this time he’s increased the impact with that so we believe that’s worthy of a charge.”

Lake was punished for an incident in which he arrived too late to prevent Dockers’ opponent Michael Walters taking a mark and raised his elbow and made a glancing blow.

“Walters takes the mark and Lake runs through and sticks the elbow out there, contacts him high. We believe his intent was to strike him. He doesn’t try to make body contact or bump him, just raises the elbow . . . low impact but a striking action,” Fraser said of Lake, the reigning Norm Smith Medallist.

“By sticking the elbow out he knows that a strike’s going to occur, so it becomes intentional.”

Had it not been for the grand-final loading Lake would have been suspended for one match and Rioli would have escaped with a reprimand.

Soon after the punishments were announced Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge tweeted his anger about them.

“The afl should change the Double points system for GF. It should only be for intentional contact. It is a contact sport!!” he said.

Shortly after he added, in reference to the 2004 grand final when retiring Brisbane spearhead Alastair Lynch literally went out swinging: “Yeah our players have to take their penalty but AFL bought it in to stop the lynch haymakers. I don’t think that should cover all reports.”

Suban will face the tribunal over an incident in which he grabbed at the cheek of Mitchell as they both lay on the ground after duelling for possession.

While the panel can choose to refer incidents directly to the tribunal because it considers them serious enough to warrant a stiffer penalty Fraser implied the panel had done so for Suban for the opposite reason, because it would have seemingly resulted in a six-match ban, or a four-match ban with 87.5 carry-over points with a guilty plea.

“You see Suban grab Mitchell on the face there. We believe . . . it’s unnecessary and unreasonable, but by going through the table of offences we think it should be determined by the tribunal,” Fraser said. “We weren’t comfortable with what the table of offences gave us.”

While the tribunal hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday evening, as per usual, the AFL would consider requests for postponement if that was too soon for Suban and Fremantle, or Hawthorn if it chose to challenge one or both of the penalties for Rioli and Lake.

MATCH REVIEW PANEL FINDINGSNick Suban (Fre) unnecessary face contact to Sam Mitchell (Haw). Referred directly to tribunal.Cyril Rioli (Haw) rough conduct to Michael Barlow (Fre). Reckless, low impact, body contact. 125 points up due to grand-final loading to 250 (2 matches); 187.5 with guilty plea (1 match).Brian Lake (Haw) striking Michael Walters (Fre). Intentional, low impact, high contact. 225 points up due to grand-final loading to 450 (4 matches); 337.5 with guilty plea (3 matches).

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