Mason gets one-match Tri-Nations ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mason gets one-match Tri-Nations ban

By Cameron Tomarchio 06/11/2006 09:26:31 PM Comments (0)

Willie Mason has been cleared to play the Tri-Nations final after receiving a one-game suspension for striking Great Britain's Stuart Fielden during Saturday night's rugby league Test match.

Mason pleaded not guilty to punching Fielden in the third minute, citing self defence.

But the Tri-Nations judiciary panel felt Mason's reaction was "disproportionate" to Fielden's provocation.

He was given one a one-match suspension and $5,000 fine, meaning he only misses Australia's encounter with the Brits on Saturday week.

"I'm really disappointed with the result," Mason said in a prepared statement.

"I honestly thought I was acting in self defence. In light of previous incidents (in the Tri-Nations) which have gone unpunished I'm very surprised by tonight's result.

"I will now devote myself to getting fit and play as well as I can in the final. I wish my teammates the best of luck in the coming game.

"I feel like I've let them down but I can't wait for the final."

For a moment in the hearing, it looked as though Mason would get away with the charge after his defence showed a freeze frame of Fielden during the incident, holding Mason by the scruff of the neck with his left arm, while his right arm was cocked and ready to swing.

Mason also gave evidence of the conversation that took place between he and Fielden in the tackle leading up to the incident, saying Fielden was spurring him on.

"(Fielden) was telling me we would blue after the tackle," Mason told the panel.

"He said, `You stupid Aussie ... let's go, c'mon."

Fielden was not present, and no challenge was made to either the freeze frame nor the dialogue.

"Basically, I just wanted to hit him before he hit me first," Mason added.

The panel found there was an element of provocation from Fielden, and also took into account Mason's good 20 Test record in reaching its decision.

Mason is considering whether to appeal.

The backrower was originally charged after an official complaint from Great Britain after Saturday night's 23-12 loss to the Lions, which came as a shock to coach Ricky Stuart at the time.

The Kangaroos are already assured of a berth in the November 25 final, and play the Lions on November 18 at Suncorp Stadium in the final preliminary match.

The Australians disbanded from camp on Sunday and will reunite in Brisbane on Friday.

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