In the end Geelong didn’t want to risk taking Tom Hawkins’ case to the AFL tribunal, but the Cats would have had plenty of support if they had.
Geelong reluctantly accepted a one-game suspension for Hawkins on Tuesday after he was charged with striking Greater Western Sydney co-captain Phil Davis during the Cats’ hard-fought win at Simonds Stadium last weekend.
The contact looked negligible but the AFL match review panel deemed it intentional conduct with low impact to the head, which attracted a two-game ban – down to one with an early guilty plea.
Geelong looked headed to the tribunal on Monday when coach Chris Scott said that he was shocked by the assessment, but with pivotal games against North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in the next fortnight, the Cats chose the safe option.
“The way the system works we risked that double penalty, obviously, and it’s just not worth the risk in our view,” Scott said.
“It’s just too hard to prove your innocence.
“The football industry, as far as I can see, seems pretty united in their view on this and we share that view.
“But we’re just not prepared to risk double the penalty when we’ve got such an important few weeks coming up.”
Davis spoke to the media on Tuesday and expressed his surprise at the match review panel’s finding.
His view was a popular one amongst his AFL colleagues.
“I’m surprised he’s got weeks for that,” said Western Bulldogs skipper Bob Murphy on Fox Footy.
“The sniff test, for me, that doesn’t seem to quite add up.”
North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie felt the incident looked worse in slow motion.
“I saw it in real time (earlier) and it certainly looks less of a suspendable offence than when you slow it down,” he told Fox Footy.
“(But) I can certainly understand why they didn’t challenge it … Geelong play the Bulldogs after they play us and there’s too much to lose by going to the appeal.”
Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt felt the action deserved nothing more than a fine.
“It’s hard to comment too much on it but I think they brought in the fining process for incidents like this,” he said.
“We want to stamp those punches and gut punches out of the game, they’re not acceptable on the football field or anywhere, but we have the fining process in place for instances like that I would have thought.”