St Kilda have clearly been the most disappointing team of 2021.
St Kilda have failed in their bid to overturn Ben Long’s one-match ban for rough conduct, meaning the defender will miss Friday night’s semi-final against Richmond.
The Saints fronted up to the AFL Appeals Board on Wednesday night in a last-ditch bid to overturn the ban after the AFL Tribunal upheld the decision to suspend Long for his high bump on Western Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae last weekend.
Long had already pleaded guilty to careless conduct and high contact, but the Saints felt the offence should have been classified as low impact instead of medium impact.
A classification of low impact would have resulted in a fine instead of a suspension.
St Kilda appealed the AFL Tribunal’s decision on the grounds that an error of law had occurred, and that the classification of the offence by the AFL Tribunal was manifestly excessive.
Lawyer Jack Rush, representing Long, said the fact the AFL Tribunal’s jury was “surprised” that Macrae was not injured showed they had “got lost” in the potential for the hit to cause injury, rather than focusing on the force of the hit itself.
Rush said the fact Macrae suffered no injury “must be because the impact is low or minimal”.
“Why would there be any surprise on part of the jury if they took into account that there was no injury?” he argued. “We say that’s an error in law.
“This is not like a round-arm punch. This is not like some massive contact or extraordinarily negligent contact with another player, where the potential for injury may absolutely be raised.”
Rush also argued that Long’s forward momentum was not significant, and that Macrae’s momentum from the other direction was not properly taken into account by the tribunal.
“This is not momentum of someone coming in off the line, running at high speed into the contest,” Rush said of Long.
“We would contest, like a tennis player at the net, that he is ready to go to either side.
“The failure of the tribunal to properly take those matters into account has led them into error.”
But the AFL’s legal counsel Jeff Gleeson successfully argued that no error of law had occurred, and that the classification of the offence was not manifestly excessive.
The dismissal of the appeal means the Saints will now be without Long, Paddy Ryder (hamstring) and Jake Carlisle (personal reasons) for their clash with Richmond.