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Bulldogs to make last-ditch plea for Brennan

Football

The Western Bulldogs have launched an appeal in a last-ditch bid for captain Katie Brennan to play in their AFLW grand final against Brisbane.

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The AFL appeal board will sit on Thursday night to hear the challenge against Brennan’s two-game rough conduct suspension.

The challenge is no surprise and the Bulldogs lodged the appeal by today’s noon deadline.

The tribunal upheld Brennan’s suspension in an emotional hearing on Tuesday night, meaning she would miss Saturday’s grand final against the Lions at Ikon Park.

The four-member tribunal jury found Brennan guilty of rough conduct over her sling tackle on Harriet Cordner during the Dogs’ tense final-round win against Melbourne.

Her unsuccessful visit to the tribunal meant the suspension was increased from one to two games.

But the key is one of the AFLW’s biggest stars misses the Saturday grand final.

Brennan, who didn’t take questions from waiting media after Tuesday’s hearing, was in tears as she made a brief statement.

“I’m gutted with the decision but I’ll support the club in whatever they choose to do going forward,” she said.

“We’ve proved that the girls don’t need myself out on the field to win games and I’ll back them 100 per cent and also be able to play a really important role on game day.”

Cordner was shaken but able to play out the game after she was awarded a free kick, with the tackle classified as low impact, high contact and careless conduct.

Brennan’s advocate Sam Norton did not dispute those elements but argued the Bulldogs forward’s actions weren’t unreasonable under the high-pressure circumstances.

AFL legal counsel Andrew Woods argued Brennan had used excessive force in bringing Cordner to the ground.

The jury found Brennan guilty after 22 minutes of deliberation.

Norton subsequently tried to have Brennan’s penalty reduced on the basis of exceptional and compelling circumstances.

“Her role in the establishment of this league should not be underestimated,” Norton said.

“It’s submitted, in effect, that she is a trailblazer.”

Norton said it would be a “cruel blow” for the Bulldogs to again face a grand final without their captain, referring to Bob Murphy’s injury-enforced absence in their 2016 premiership triumph.

But tribunal chair Ross Howie described this argument as irrelevant and the jury ruled in favour of upholding the two-week ban.

The offence would have drawn a reprimand on its own but it was Brennan’s second classifiable offence of the season, which increased the penalty to a match and triggered the unsuccessful tribunal challenge.

– AAP

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