Don disaster as Fletcher ban upheld - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Don disaster as Fletcher ban upheld

By Chris Lines 10/09/2003 08:16:51 PM Comments (0)

Essendon must find a way to offset its vulnerability when Dustin Fletcher is absent, as the full back must serve his two-week suspension following a dismissal of Wednesday night's appeal.

Fletcher will miss this weekend's semi-final against Port Adelaide, and should the Bombers be successful, he will also miss the preliminary final against Collingwood.

A downcast Essendon chief executive Peter Jackson said public sentiment had been that the suspension was too severe, and while not commenting on the findings, he said it would be left to the media to "make decisions about the relativity of penalties".

More so than any Essendon player, including stars Matthew Lloyd and James Hird, it was the absence of Fletcher that had historically affected the Bombers' form.

"You have to say with his record when he's out, he's probably the most important over the last three or four years when he hasn't played, compared to Hirdy and I," Lloyd said.

"Even without Fletch I still think we're in the best situation we ever have been to beat them."

In upholding the original tribunal penalty, Appeals Board chairman Peter O'Callaghan said "there is nothing the board have seen or heard tonight" to warrant upholding the appeal.

"To impose a penalty on a player during finals is a great hardship, and that has been taken into account," he said.

"But given the evidence that has been put forward tonight the board can not see any differently at all from the decision of the tribunal."

In the incident last Friday, Fletcher jumped in the air and struck Hayden on the head with a forearm after the Docker had drawn Fletcher on to him and handballed away at the last opportunity.

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