West Coast midfielder Elliot Yeo has successfully appealed his one-match ban for striking and will play in this week’s game against Geelong.
The Eagles made the decision to appeal after Yeo was charged with striking Collingwood’s Rupert Wills during Sunday’s win at Optus Stadium.
The incident was graded as intentional with low impact and high contact.
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It’s a repeat of Round 2’s Tribunal challenge by the Eagles when they failed to overturn Jeremy McGovern’s ban for striking Gold Coast’s Alex Sexton – an incident graded exactly the same as Yeo’s strike.
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The panel consisted of David Neitz, Stephen Jurica and Wayne Henwood.
The Eagles are only risking a financial penalty if they fail to overturn Yeo’s ban, though he would also miss Saturday’s clash with Geelong.
Yeo said he was only initiating contact in a “fend-off type” motion on the chest of Wills, admitting a finger “merely brushed his neck.”
The midfielder also said there was no verbal reaction from Collingwood players (including Wills) or umpires.
Jeff Gleeson QC, representing the AFL, said “The bottom line is players no longer can throw a strike at the head of another player … there was meaningful contact and therefore it’s over to you to uphold the charge”, pointing to the jolt backward of Wills’ head as evidence of a strike.
David Grace QC, on behalf of Elliot Yeo, said it was not disputed there was some incidental high contact but it was clear the majority of the contact was to Wills’ lower region and that the contact was not sufficient enough to constitute a strike.
After final comments from both parties, the panel deliberated for roughly 15 minutes before delivering a verdict via Tribunal chairman David Jones.
“The jury have reached the decision in this case that they are not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this was a reportable strike,” he said.
“They consider that the initial contact from Yeo was to the chest and subsequent contact was made above the shoulders with the open hand and in the view of the jury the impact above the shoulders was negligible.
“The jury is not satisfied that the reportable offence of striking was committed and finds player Yeo not guilty of the charge.”
It remains to be seen whether Geelong challenge a one-match ban for Tom Hawkins.
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