A contrite Brian Lake has accepted a month-long suspension that will rule him out for Hawthorn until round 21 after the AFL tribunal conclusively laid the blame for Friday night’s ugly scuffle with Drew Petrie at his feet alone.
While Petrie was given only a token reprimand with no carry-over points, on the basis his grabbing of Lake’s face was in self defence, the Hawthorn defender was given a ban that will rule him out of the club's matches against Adelaide, Sydney, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne. He will be available for selection from the Hawks’ trip to face Fremantle on August 17.
Lake’s argument that he was attempting to grab at the lapel of Petrie’s jumper, rather than place his hands on his throat, did not sway the tribunal jury of Wayne Schimmelbusch, David Neitz and Richard Loveridge from accepting the prosecution’s contention that Lake’s action had constituted forceful impact and had the potential to cause serious injury to Petrie.
North Melbourne spearhead Petrie completely escaped the 125-point penalty applied by the match review panel. The jury deliberated for four minutes in sparing Petrie (officially it reprimanded him) and later took five minutes in convicting Lake.
Lake, the reigning Norm Smith Medallist, was contrite after the hearing. ‘‘It’s been a tough couple of days for myself and my family. It’s great to come here and get my point across on what happened,’’ he said. ‘‘I respect the jury’s decision on the four weeks. Now, I’ve just got to look forward to a tough four-week period of training to get my body right. Leading into the finals I've got three game to get my match fitness and look for a big September.’’
Lake’s counsel Chris Townshend, QC, said the Hawthorn player was guilty of – and admitted to – aggressively wrestling Petrie. He said Lake had not intended to grab Petrie by the throat, but insisted that any resulting contact should be rated no higher than negligent conduct and low impact. AFL counsel Andrew Woods alleged the conduct was at least reckless and the impact was high or severe, despite North’s medical report revealing Petrie was not treated for any injury.
Woods sought a penalty of at least three matches. The jury decided it warranted a 410-point penalty, triggering a four-match ban with 10 carry-over points.
Townshend said Lake had ‘‘spent four days in the public eye’’ since the incident, and told the jurors the tribunal was ‘‘not in the business of entertainment, but natural justice’’. Part of his rationale for declaring the impact was no more than low was that Petrie ‘‘played a cracker of a game’’, as he was not physically hindered by it.
Lake said his hand went towards Petrie’s throat only because he was unsighted, and that he was trying to grab part of his opponent’s V-neck collar to get a good hold of him to gain the upper hand in their scuffle.
‘‘I wanted to get as much jumper as possible ... I felt that’s how I could control the situation,’’ he said.
He rejected the notion his grabbing of Petrie was of ‘‘significant force’’. Asked if he could see or hear Petrie crying out during the scuffle, he replied: ‘‘I can see [from the footage] he was in discomfort, yes.’’
Petrie was adjudged guilty of misconduct for unnecessary contact to the face of Lake but avoided penalty because the jury agreed with his counsel Tony Burns’ contention he was acting in self defence. The North forward told the tribunal he had been trapped in a headlock by Lake’s right arm when he reached upwards with his hand, feeling that he needed ‘‘to push myself out of that position for my own safety.’’
He said he had pushed upwards at Lake for just two seconds, unable to see anything, and that he had removed his hand once he realised it had made contact with the Hawthorn player’s face.
Petrie said he had felt Lake’s shoulder and body pressing down on his head when the pair began wrestling. ‘‘He was in a dominant, aggressive position on my head. I knew I had to push out of that position to prevent any damage to myself,’’ Petrie told the tribunal.
Essendon acting captain Brendon Goddard, Brisbane midfielder Tom Rockliff and West Coast key forward Josh Kennedy accepted one-game suspensions.
North Melbourne youngster Luke McDonald, Greater Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford and Gold Coast defender Rory Thompson took reprimands.
WITH EMMA QUAYLE