THE AFL Tribunal has overturned Gold Coast midfielder Nick Holman's two-match ban for a chase-down tackle that left Mitch Duncan with concussion, declaring he had not acted carelessly or breached his duty of care to the Geelong midfielder.
The Suns challenged Holman's controversial charge in a Tribunal triple-header on Tuesday night that saw suspensions for Carlton's Lachie Plowman and Richmond's Marlion Pickett upheld.
Holman's challenge was the final case heard, with the verdict delivered just after 9.50pm AEST, more than one hour after submissions from the Gold Coast and AFL legal counsels started.
Holman pleaded not guilty to the dangerous tackle charge and, through counsel Stephen Russell, argued his actions were not outside the rules of the game.
It was argued an unreasonable "level of perfection" was being demanded of the 25-year-old to prevent an accidental injury to Duncan.
The three-member panel of Richard Loveridge, David Neitz and Wayne Henwood agreed, overturning the Match Review Officer's charge and ruling Holman had executed a legal tackle.
"They (the jury) do not consider that there was a second motion and in their view the momentum of the two players is what caused the consequences of the tackle," Tribunal chairman Ross Howie said when announcing the finding.
"They consider that the player (Holman) acted as a reasonable player in the circumstances and a reasonable player would consider his conduct to be prudent. They find he was not careless."
Holman, who did not give evidence in the hearing, will now be available to face Hawthorn at TIO Stadium on Saturday.
"Obviously we respect the MRO's right to lay the charges, but we felt we had a strong case to challenge the suspension based on the evidence," he said.
"It's unfortunate Mitch was concussed, I reached out to him on Sunday after the game and I'm glad he's doing OK.
"I'm looking forward to running out this weekend against the Hawks for Sir Doug Nicholls Round."
AFL counsel Jeff Gleeson said it was open to the jury to find there was a second, driving action in a tackle that was "inherently dangerous".
He used still images from a fresh camera angle to argue it was possible for Holman to reduce the impact of the tackle on Duncan once he had started to bring the premiership Cat to ground.
Meanwhile, Carlton will consider its options for appeal after Lachie Plowman's two-match ban for rough conduct against Hawthorn's Jaeger O'Meara was upheld.
After a marathon hearing, the panel found Plowman guilty of careless conduct in the incident that left O'Meara concussed on Saturday.
If the Blues accept the finding and choose not to take the case to the AFL Appeals Board, he will miss matches against Sydney and West Coast.
After hearing 90 minutes of evidence from both parties, the jury took 30 minutes to deliberate and found Plowman guilty.
They said he chose to bump, rather than attempt to mark, upholding the careless conduct part of the Match Review Officer's initial charge.
"The player (Plowman) came to the contest at speed, was aware of the presence of O'Meara and executed a bump, and is therefore guilty of rough conduct," chairman Howie said.
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Plowman's defence attempted to clear the careless conduct charge, saying it was a collision as part of a marking contest and not an election to bump.
The Blues defender spoke at length, saying he had eyes only for the ball and he only caught a glimpse of O'Meara late.
He said he was attempting to spoil and never turned sideways to brace or bump.
"I've got my fist closed with my right hand ready to spoil the ball and my eyes are on the ball," Plowman said.
Carlton lawyer Peter O'Farrell pleaded for the panel to consider Plowman's "exemplary" record and reduce the two-game ban, but it was to no avail.
Dual premiership Tiger Pickett fronted the Tribunal in the second hearing and attempted to have his strike downgraded from medium impact to low, which would have resulted in a financial sanction.
The midfielder argued he was attempting to tackle Starcevich when he made high contact and the majority of the impact was to the top of his opponent's shoulder and armpit before sliding high.
AFL counsel Gleeson described Pickett's action as a "round-arm swinging motion" that had the potential to cause more serious injury than had resulted.
"It was more good luck than management that Starcevich was able to get up and play out the game," he said.
The jury agreed there was a risk of more serious injury and decided a meaningful portion of the contact had been made high on Starcevich.