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Port rolls the dice, Jonas gets six

Football

Port Adelaide gambled and lost at Tuesday night’s AFL tribunal hearing, which ended with Tom Jonas copping a six-game suspension for his ugly hit on West Coast’s Andrew Gaff.

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The Power attempted to have the defender’s striking charge downgraded from intentional to careless conduct, a move whose failure cost Jonas any penalty discount he would have received had he simply pleaded guilty.

Jonas gave evidence to the hearing held at Etihad Stadium via video link from Adelaide, with the jury taking just seven minutes to deliver the sanction after a hearing that lasted approximately an hour and 40 minutes.

He spoke briefly to reporters after the hearing and ruled out an appeal.

“It’s a fair outcome,” Jonas said.

“We went in there and put our point forward – we thought that I was carelessly guilty but it was proven that I wasn’t and that it was intentional.

“We had a fair hearing and I’ll cop my punishment.

“I caused an injury to Andrew – let’s not forget that – it’s good that he’s okay.”

Jonas sparked a melee during the Power’s loss to the Eagles at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night when he knocked out Gaff with an elbow to the back of the head.

He was charged with striking and sent straight to the tribunal by the match review panel, who assessed the incident as intentional conduct with severe impact to the head.

AFL counsel Jeff Gleeson QC argued for a seven-match ban, to which Port legal counsel Mark Griffin QC responded, “This is not a Barry Hall punch”, referring to the seven-match penalty handed to the former Sydney forward for his infamous knockout strike on West Coast’s Brent Staker.

Griffin unsuccessfully attempted to have the offence downgraded from intentional to careless, which meant Jonas was unable to receive any discount for a guilty plea.

In his evidence, Jonas contended that his intent was to spoil Gaff as he went back for a mark but he was left in two minds as he closed to within two steps of his opponent, with his indecision resulting in “a clumsy mess”.

“I expected that I would only make contact with his back or shoulder, I never intended to make contact with his head or neck,” Jonas told the tribunal.

“As soon as I saw the state that he was in I knew I’d made contact with his head or neck and I regretted it immediately – I felt terrible.”

Jonas said that he had expressed his remorse to West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy in the aftermath of the hit that saw Gaff lose consciousness for two minutes before being placed in a neck brace and stretchered from the ground.

He also texted Gaff later that evening to offer his sincere apology, which he said was accepted. An Eagles medical report stated Gaff had missed three days of training and has been ruled out of next week’s home clash against Gold Coast.

Jonas will miss games against Melbourne, Collingwood, the Western Bulldogs, Fremantle, Richmond and Hawthorn – as well as Port’s mid-season bye round.

Jonas was the only player at the tribunal after Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong accepted a two-match ban for his high bump on Greater Western Sydney’s Matt Buntine and all other players cited accepted fines.

-AAP

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