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Appeal upheld: Houli cops extra whack for strike

Houli reported for Lamb strike Bachar Houli in the book for this incident with a dazed Jed Lamb

THE AFL has succeeded in its historic first-ever appeal of a Tribunal decision, with Richmond defender Bachar Houli's ban for striking Carlton's Jed Lamb increased to four matches.

Lamb was left unconscious after the hit and has been ruled out of the side to face Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.

Houli accepted the decision after the verdict was handed down, with the Tribunal originally handing him a two-game suspension.

"The decision's been made and I accept it," Houli said.

"Point number two, my concern is and always has been for Jed and I hope he recovers really quickly.

"The other thing is we move on with life and I'll do my best to help the team prepare for the next few games." 

He will miss matches against Port Adelaide, St Kilda, the Brisbane Lions and Greater Western Sydney.

The AFL's legal counsel Andrew Woods argued three points:

  • The original penalty was manifestly inadequate
  • There was an error of law when the Tribunal made its judgement
  • The decision was so unreasonable that no Tribunal acting reasonably could have come to that decision

Richmond was led by Michael Tovey QC and Sam Tovey – the same lawyers representing Houli at the Tribunal.

The three Appeals Board members were Peter O'Callaghan QC (chairman), Brian Collis QC and Michael Green and came to a decision in about 10 minutes.

As it happened: All the action from inside the appeal

When explaining the decision, O'Callaghan said the character references from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly were not relevant to his act on the football field.

He explained why the Appeals Board saw a greater punishment necessary.

"A blow from a person of exemplary character has just the same impact of a person of bad character," O'Callaghan said.

AFL football operations manager Simon Lethlean said in a prepared statement the decision, which came after a hearing lasting more than two hours, was the right outcome for the game.

"The Appeals Board tonight has reinforced the AFL's position on the importance of protecting the head and the health and safety of our players. I'm satisfied with that result," Lethlean said.

"He's a leader in our game, a player and a person of great integrity, his remorse for his actions were clear after the completion of the match.

"Our actions in appealing the Tribunal decision were about protecting players from injury to the head and this is very important to us.

"I want to reassure Bachar that he will continue to be held in the highest standard."

Bachar Houli faces reporters after the appeal. Picture: Getty Images

While this is the first time the AFL has ever appealed a Tribunal decision, only two of 16 players have been successful in front of the Appeals Board.

Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney had a two-game suspension overturned in 2014 for a rough conduct charge on Adelaide forward Tom Lynch.

The other successful challenge was in 2009 when Collingwood defender Nick Maxwell successfully fought a rough conduct charge for a bump on West Coast tough nut Patrick McGinnity.

The last time an appeal was held was when Fremantle's Nat Fyfe failed to have a two-match ban for striking then-Hawthorn midfielder Jordan Lewis overturned in August 2014.