IF IT wasn't the biggest hit since Barry's, it was certainly the biggest since Bugg's.

A crude swinging left hook from West Coast gun Andrew Gaff lit the fuse for a fiery Western Derby on Sunday – and it could have huge implications on the club's premiership chances.

MOMENT OF MADNESS Gaff's off-the-ball strike

Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw was left bloodied and bruised as a result of the punch, taken to hospital immediately after the incident with a fractured jaw and four displaced teeth.

For the Brayshaw family, who have already been forced to endure head-related scares with older brother Angus, the scenes and the ensuing replays would have been tough to watch.

WATCH Gaff's hit sparks Derby chaos

Gaff looked devastated after the incident. Certainly, it was out of character for the in-form Eagles midfielder. But that's unlikely to change the opinion of the Tribunal on Tuesday night.

Indeed, it's at the Tribunal where Gaff is likely to learn his fate, with Match Review Officer Michael Christian almost certain to grade the incident as intentional conduct with severe impact to the head on Monday morning.

The AFL's classifiable offences table says such gradings would refer an incident directly to the Tribunal, incurring a minimum three-match ban if found guilty.

EAGLES WIN FIERY DERBY Full match coverage and stats

For Gaff, three matches on the sidelines will be just the start.

In terms of recent comparisons, there have been few off-the-ball strikes as crude as Barry Hall's 2008 hit on Brent Staker and Tom Bugg's 2017 punch on Callum Mills.

Hall copped seven matches for knocking Staker out, Bugg got six for concussing Mills.

Having broken the jaw of his first-year opponent, Gaff can likely expect a number in a similar ballpark when his case is heard on Tuesday evening.

With three games left in the home and away campaign, it's almost certain to mean Gaff's finals chances are also in jeopardy. Given the Eagles have outperformed all expectations to sit comfortably inside the top two as things stand, the ramifications are huge.

THINGS WE LEARNED Gaff hit could scupper Eagles' flag hopes

Depending on how West Coast's finals campaign plays out next month, a six-game ban – the same as Bugg's from July last year – could mean Gaff's season is over.

In effect, it would mean West Coast would need to lose its qualifying final – and then make the Grand Final – for the talented 26-year-old to be seen again.

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A restricted free agent at season's end, it could also mean it's the last we see of Gaff in Eagles colours.

For a player who entered round 20 among the favourites for the Brownlow Medal following a season in which he's averaged 30.7 disposals per game, missing West Coast's entire finals series would be a bitter blow for Adam Simpson and his side.


While Gaff is almost certain to wake up on Monday morning asking himself what he was thinking, when West Coast is taking on teams such as Richmond and Greater Western Sydney in September without its best player, the Eagles might be doing likewise.

Biggest recent suspensions

9 games – Steven Baker (St Kilda), round 13, 2010, (four different incidents involving Steve Johnson (Geelong) – suspensions of 2, 3, 2 and 2 games)
8 games – Dean Solomon (Fremantle), round 15, 2008, striking Cameron Ling (Geelong)
7 games – Barry Hall (Sydney), round four, 2008, striking Brent Staker (West Coast)
6 games – Byron Pickett (North Melbourne), pre-season 2005, rough conduct James Begley (Adelaide)
6 games – Brodie Holland (Collingwood), elimination final, 2006, rough conduct Brett Montgomery (Western Bulldogs)
6 games – Jeff Farmer (Fremantle), pre-season 2007, eye-gouging Daniel Pratt (North Melbourne)
6 games – Ben Johnson (Collingwood), round 20, 2007, front-on contact, Daniel Bell (Melbourne)
6 games – Campbell Brown (Gold Coast), round 23, 2012, front-on contact, Aiden Riley (Adelaide)
6 games – Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide), round nine, 2016, striking Andrew Gaff (West Coast)6 games – Tomas Bugg (Melbourne), round 15, 2017, striking Callum Mills (Sydney)

Last time the AFL had a suspension of more than eight games for a single incident was Greg Williams (Carlton), nine games for umpire contact in round one, 1997. The last time there was a suspension of double figures was 10 games for Nicky Winmar (St Kilda) for kicking Dermott Brereton (Hawthorn), round 19, 1990.

Heaviest suspension for a West Coast player is Chris Lewis, seven games, round nine, 1997, striking Danny Morgan (Essendon)