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Kanga free to play after gut punch, seven more fined

Why key Saint and Roo are free to play in R2 Riley Beveridge and MRO Michael Christian wrap up the round one Match Review findings

NORTH Melbourne is breathing a sigh of relief, with star midfielder Ben Cunnington escaping suspension for his strike on Fremantle defender Nathan Wilson.

It was a lenient round one for all players across the competition, with Liam Ryan and Jade Gresham also free to play this weekend following reportable offences over the weekend.

Cunnington struck Wilson to the midriff in an off-the-ball incident on Sunday, leaving the Dockers player gasping for air in the latter stages of the team's horror 82-point loss.

However, the incident was graded by Match Review Officer Michael Christian as intentional conduct, with low impact to the body, equating to just a $2000 fine.

It means Cunnington will be available for North Melbourne's crucial clash with an in-form Brisbane side next Sunday afternoon at Marvel Stadium.

 

Speaking after handing down the penalties, Christian said a favourable medical report from Fremantle and the fact Wilson stayed on the field helped Cunnington avoid a ban.

"He would certainly need to go off the ground (for it to be graded medium impact) … and for a considerable time," Christian told AFL.com.au's The Verdict.

"In terms of our four grades – low, medium, high and severe – medium would be off the ground for a significant amount of time, perhaps even a concussion test.

"There needs to still be a level of impact. (In terms of contact to the body), if for example Wilson sustained broken ribs and was off for a considerable amount of time, then of course it would be graded a lot higher than low impact."

There is more fortunate news for West Coast forward Ryan, who has also escaped suspension for his jumper punch to Brisbane's Darcy Gardiner on Saturday night.

Ryan was retaliating after being nudged by the knees of Gardiner while on the ground, catching the Lions defender with a high hit to the face after initially grabbing his jumper.

But the incident was not deemed sufficient enough to warrant a penalty, subsequently earning Ryan a fixed financial penalty of $1500 for a striking offence.

Gardiner was given a $1000 misconduct fine for his role prior to the incident.

 

St Kilda is also counting its blessings, with star forward Gresham walking away unscathed from the Match Review following his high bump to Gold Coast youngster Wil Powell.

Gresham turned his body before collecting Powell, who was bending to find the footy, but the talented Sun was able to get to his feet and take his high-contact free kick.

However, the incident was thrown out by Christian, with Gresham free to play next week.

In other incidents assessed over the weekend:

  • Port Adelaide co-captain Tom Jonas was fined $2000 for his bump to Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn just prior to a marking contest.
  • Jarryd Roughead and Bryce Gibbs were fined $1000 each for incidental umpire contact during Adelaide's clash with Hawthorn on Saturday.
  • Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch was handed a $1000 misconduct fine after he pushed Roughead into an umpire during that clash at Adelaide Oval.
  • Greater Western Sydney forward Jeremy Cameron was fined $2000 for his dangerous tackle on Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett, where he pinned his arms.
  • Carlton defender Liam Jones had already been sanctioned $2000 for his off-the-ball bump that flattened Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt on Thursday night.

All players accepted their financial sanctions on Tuesday and are free to play this weekend.