A fiery final round of the NAB Challenge could prove costly for several clubs with Brisbane star Dayne Zorko and GWS spearhead Jeremy Cameron among AFL players facing a nervous wait over incidents from the weekend’s action.
In a disastrous finish to their respective pre-season campaigns, Cameron went into the umpire’s book after making high contact with young Lion Rhys Mathieson and Zorko was reported for striking Giants co-captain Phil Davis at Metricon Stadium.
The two incidents – which are set to be assessed by the AFL match review panel – occurred within a spiteful 30-second period when Cameron made contact with Mathieson’s head after he left the ground to apply a hip and shoulder.
Davis then lost his mouthguard and was left clutching his throat after an off-the-ball blow delivered by Zorko.
Mathieson left the ground for assessment of a suspected fractured cheekbone and did not return to the contest won by the Giants by 39 points.
The Lions play West Coast in Perth in round one while GWS take on Melbourne at the MCG.
Exciting Geelong youngster Nakia Cockatoo is also in strife having been cited for rough conduct for his crude sling tackle that left Fremantle defender Michael Johnson dazed and sparked a heated confrontation between several players.
Port Adelaide star Hamish Hartlett will have his fingers crossed after making ill-advised head-to-head contact with Richmond opponent Jacob Townsend, while several players will find themselves out of pocket after an ugly melee that took place perilously close to spectators at Etihad Stadium.
The first match of the final round of the much-maligned pre-season competition ended in farcical circumstances when the injury-devastated Tigers fielded 15 players late in their 48-point loss to the Power.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick ordered his team play three men down after they suffered a disastrous injury toll with Shane Edwards (collarbone), Reece Conca (hamstring), Jacob Townsend (head knock) and Shaun Grigg (thumb) all forced out.
The controversial finish put the future of the competition back in the spotlight with AFL operations boss Mark Evans conceding the league would look at changing the format if clubs could agree on an alternative.
There were also plenty of positives to come out the last weekend of AFL action before the season gets underway when Carlton take on Richmond at the MCG on March 24.
Adam Treloar starred in his first hit-out for Collingwood in a thrilling encounter against the Western Bulldogs won by the Pies by just two points.
The Cats succumbed to a late burst from the Dockers but most Geelong fans were too besotted with the efforts of superstar recruit Patrick Dangerfield, who racked up 30 possessions, to take much notice of the final score.
Reigning premiers Hawthorn left no doubt that they’re still the team to beat with a 45-point demolition of North Melbourne. The Hawks didn’t escape without injury concerns, however, with Liam Shiels (hand) and Billy Hartung (knee) to be assessed early in the week.