AFL finally sees light in finals witch-hunt

Nearly two weeks after the bump occurred, the Giants’ Toby Bedford has finally learned once and for all if he’ll miss the elimination final.

Bedford was pinged for his bump on Carlton’s Zac Fisher in round 24 but the drama has dragged on for nearly 11 days after the one-match ban was upheld by the Tribunal on Monday.

Watch every match of The 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo Sports. Join now and start streaming instantly >

It forced the Giants to take the fight to the AFL Appeal Board, where the club argued the decision “was so unreasonable that no Tribunal acting reasonably could have come to that decision having regard to the evidence before it.”

There had been a groundswell of support for Bedford to play with utter incredulity from across the AFL all week that the ban could be handed down.

Even Fisher himself gave evidence at the Tribunal on Monday that he didn’t feel any impact above his shoulders and “felt fine” after the bump.

And Fisher also played out the remainder of the game.

But the Appeals Board saw the light of day and after a two-and-a-half hour hearing, Bedford’s appeal was successful as the Giants successfully argued about the Tribunal’s decision that the contact was “forceful” on Fisher.

Toby Bedford’s going to finals. Photo by Phil Hillyard

There’ll be no sleeping on Toby Bedford. Photo by Phil Hillyard

Fox Sports reported Giants representative Ben Ihle argued: “It is impossible based on the video to determine the level of force (of high contact).”

Fisher also told the panel that the contact “caught me by surprise” but added he could have protected himself better.

That view was reinforced by the biomechanist’s evidence on Monday night, which read: “It is not possible to determine or form an opinion about the forcefulness of the impact between Bedford and Fisher from the video.”

He added that Fisher’s evidence was also handled in an “illogical” way.

Lisa Hannon, who represented the AFL, argued that the Tribunal was within its rights to rule the way it did because of the experience on the panel.

However, the board sided with the Giants, with CODE Sports’ Lachlan McKirdy saying Bedford “had the biggest smile on his face and basically jumped out of his chair”.

It comes after a week which has seen the AFL Tribunal slammed for its decision.

Speaking on AFL 360 on Tuesday, Giants coach Adam Kingsley said: “I have a biased opinion of course but I don’t think that’s a suspendable action personally.

“That’s a step in front and block.”

On Monday night’s AFL 360, Gerard Whateley said Bedford was “incredibly unlucky”.

“It felt like the Giants had made such a good case – I was surprised that evidence brought that verdict at the end,” Whateley said.

“If this were Bobby Hill or Jack Ginnivan we’d be at the picket lines over it. I really feel for him. I think the scenario played against him.”

There has been discussion online since the issue which questioned if the Tribunal was trying to make a point with Bedford’s case, and whether they would have made the same point with a bigger name player.

Speaking on Channel 7’s Talking Finals on Tuesday night, Tim Watson was of the same opinion.

“You’ve got Zac Fisher, who said he didn’t get hit in the head. Then you’ve got the tribunal saying that there was no concussion, there was no injury,” he said.

“We’ve now got the coach Adam Kingsley saying that doesn’t warrant a suspension.

“Yes, it would’ve been a lot different had it have been Petracca.

“And I, for one, hope that he gets off at the appeal, because you shouldn’t miss a finals game for what occurred there in that incident.”

Bedford with friends after booking a finals spot. Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Geelong legend Joel Selwood said: “Free him!

“It was a football act that we grew up with … and I just don’t think it was hard enough,”

AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson echoed the comments of AFL legend Nathan Buckley, saying it was simply a move taught at junior level — handball and protect.

“You’ve got to put some strength into your (block) motion. If you don’t, you’re going to get bowled over by the guy coming the other way who you are blocking,” Robinson said.

“They are incredulous the Giants about this decision before it went to the Tribunal.

“You can’t miss a final on that!”

When told that the verdict from the Tribunal boiled down to “forceful contact”, Robinson hit back.

“Again it’s forceful – what is forceful? You’ve got to have intent! We’ve spoken for years about this,” Robinson said.

“Could he have gone through the line and blocked him that way? He could have, but there’s not a rule saying that you have to do that!

“Did they believe Fisher or not?”

Four-time premiership winner Jordan Lewis said it was a “football act”.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top