Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard has been referred directly to the AFL tribunal for his high hit on Angus Brayshaw, while Melbourne forward Jacob van Rooyen has also been suspended.
The decisions were handed down on Friday night following a marathon debate inside league headquarters over the fiery start to the finals.
Brayshaw was knocked out cold in the opening minutes of the Magpies’ seven-point win over the Demons when Maynard jumped at the midfielder in an attempt to smother his kick inside 50.
Analysis, local footy and the biggest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of footy shows for every fan. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
But the Collingwood player turned mid-air and collected his opponent high with his shoulder as he landed, with the incident unfolding in just half a second.
Brayshaw required lengthy attention on the field before leaving the field on a stretcher and in a neck brace.
The incident was assessed as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact, which carries a minimum ban of three matches.
In an extraordinary intervention, new AFL executive football boss Laura Kane stepped in to make the decision over match review officer Michael Christian.
The verdict was announced separately to van Rooyen’s ban to note Kane’s input in sending Maynard to the tribunal.
The tribunal will likely sit on Tuesday night to decide Maynard’s fate but Collingwood will be expected to appeal any suspension in a bid to save their defender’s season.
The incident divided the football world with many believing it was a football act and should not be punished.
Maynard said after the game it was an unfortunate accident.
“I don’t want to say too much, but it’s a footy act,” he told Channel 7’s Abbey Holmes.
“I came forward, I jumped to smother the ball and yeah, unfortunately I just got him on the way down.”
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin appeared to suggest Maynard deserved a suspension.
“You can only go by the facts. He jumped off the ground and knocked a guy out,” he said after the match.
Brayshaw, who has a history of head knocks, is in concussion protocols and will miss next week’s semi-final against Carlton or Sydney.
Dees young gun banned
Meanwhile, van Rooyen has been handed a one-match ban for striking Collingwood’s Daniel McStay later in the first quarter.
Van Rooyen collected McStay on the jaw with his arm after the Magpies big man dropped a mark and the ball spilled between them.
McStay went off the ground for a concussion assessment but returned and played out the game.
Christian graded the incident careless conduct with medium impact and high contact.
It means the Demons will be forced into at least two changes for their do-or-die semi-final, unless they decide to challenge van Rooyen’s ban at the tribunal and are successful.