Cotchin bumped Shiel in last weekend’s preliminary final against GWS at the MCG, with the Giants midfielder later failing a concussion test.
Dylan Shiel went down to the rooms after the first quarter and looks unlikely to return. #AFLFinals pic.twitter.com/9nM2p6zXn2
— AFL (@AFL) September 23, 2017
The match review panel considered the incident this morning.
“Cotchin moves down low and braces for contact as Shiel approaches to pick up the ball,” the MRP said in explaining its decision not to charge Cotchin.
“It was the view of the panel that Cotchin was seeking to win possession as his line of direction was always towards the ball and not his opponent.
“The panel determined that Cotchin was seeking to contest the ball and therefore contact was not unreasonable in the circumstances.”
No free kick was paid to Shiel, despite Cotchin clearly making high contact with the Giants’ onballer.
Fellow Tiger Brandon Ellis was also not cited by the MRP for his high bump on Giant Lachie Whitfield.
Adelaide prime mover Rory Sloane was cleared over a high bump on Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield late in the first half of Friday night’s preliminary final, which the Crows won by 61 points.
The 27-year-old Cotchin – who was best afield in the 36-point win over GWS – was walking a tightrope as he had twice been fined earlier this year for minor indiscretions.
A third charge – even if the contact had been deemed as low – would have triggered an automatic ban, and he risked becoming the first player to miss an AFL grand final because of a preliminary-final suspension since Collingwood’s Anthony Rocca in 2003.
There is no doubt Cotchin would have appeared at the tribunal on Tuesday, had he been charged. Even if cleared then or on appeal, it would have made a high-pressure week all the more stressful.
Sydney’s Andrew Dunkley and Barry Hall contested the 1996 and 2005 grand finals after being booked for preliminary-final indiscretions.
“It should have been the best week of my life,” Dunkley said.
“Instead, it was one of the worst.”
In 2003, the AFL appeals board upheld the tribunal decision to ban Rocca despite pleas from the forward plus former players Peter Schwab and Neville Crowe regarding the impact of missing a grand final through suspension.
Crowe, who played no part in Richmond’s 1967 grand-final triumph, explained in 2003 that it “continually grinds away at your soul… I would not wish or want any player of any club to go through the continuing misery and grief that’s involved”.
Richmond will be looking to end a 37-year premiership drought on Saturday, while the Crows have not contested a grand final since winning their second flag back in 1998.
Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs told media today there was little expectation Sloane would have a case to answer for the clash with his former teammate and good friend Dangerfield.
“I don’t think Sloaney will have lost too much sleep over it, it was just two bulls going for the ball,” he said.
And he welcomed Cotchin’s inclusion in the Richmond lineup, saying “knowing Trent and the way he prepares, he’s a strong competitor… he goes hard at the footy and plays the game the right way”.
“It’s good for them now their captain’s available,” he said.
Jacobs said he took his dog for a walk over the weekend and contemplated the “surreal” reality that Adelaide is back in a Grand Final after almost two decades.
“I just took 20 minutes to take in what we’d actually done… but it’s nothing if we don’t get the win this week,” he noted.
It’s been all the more surreal for Jacobs, with the much-publicised death of his brother Aaron just eight days before the Crows’ qualifying final against GWS.
“I think [emotional rollercoaster] is a bit of an understatement – it’s been a crazy past month with the tragic event I went through,” he said.
“But I’ve had real purpose about trying to get success… it was never about me, it’s about continuing the journey we started as a team.
“We’ve gone through some really tough times – what you see out there is a really passionate team that plays for each other [and] the love and care I’ve got from the team, family and even footy fans has been unreal.”
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