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Guerra, Roughead free to play

10/08/2010 09:23:59 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn have enjoyed a badly-needed change of fortune, with defender Brent Guerra escaping suspension at the AFL tribunal.

Western Bulldogs ruckman Jordan Roughead was also relieved three weeks out from the finals when he was found not guilty on Tuesday night

Guerra pleaded guilty to his rough conduct charge, but successfully argued it should be downgraded from reckless to negligent.

That reduced his penalty from a potential two-match ban to a reprimand, freeing him for Sunday's must-win match against Melbourne.

Roughead was facing a one-match ban for rough conduct, but a skilful argument from player advocate Mark Gibson meant he beat the charge.

In a busy night at the tribunal, West Coast forward Quinten Lynch was found not guilty of kneeing and Joel Patfull was cleared of rough conduct.

But Lions captain Jonathan Brown has lost his five-year good record after being found guilty of tripping.

The Hawks are in trouble, with Saturday's 44-point loss to Sydney meaning they hold eighth spot by only half a game.

President Jeff Kennett then slammed the players and coaches on Monday in an open letter to members.

Asked if his verdict might put a smile on the president's face, Guerra said: "It could.

"I won't say too much about that, but I'm sure a lot of people will be happy."

Guerra, 28, was a member of Hawthorn's 2008 premiership side and he has played every senior game this season for a career total of 95.

He was reported for his heavy tackle on Sydney midfielder Nick Malceski, where the Swan's head hit the ground.

Guerra successfully argued that he had heard the field umpire call advantage, making him think he was free to tackle Malceski.

The three-man jury accepted his evidence that he did not hear a second whistle that stopped play.

In an unusual move, Hawthorn were allowed to play audio of the television commentary and this proved that advantage was called before Guerra laid the tackle.

The verdict meant that Guerra has 93.75 demerit points.

Roughead's case hinged on whether he made forceful head-high contact to Adelaide opponent Brad Symes.

The young ruckman appeared to be in big trouble when he admitted under cross-examination that he could have tried to smother Symes' kick.

Instead, he bumped him with his back immediately after Symes had disposed of the ball.

The Adelaide medical report also appeared to be damning, because it made reference to Symes suffering a blow to the head.

But Gibson saved Roughead with his summation, pointing out that the video showed Symes was quickly back on his feet after the bump and never checked his face or head for damage.

"I'm really pleased with the outcome, just looking forward to the week ahead and putting my name up for selection again," Roughead said.

"I was certainly (nervous), it's my first time before the tribunal, so it's always nervous times, but it's good to have a clean slate now going into the finals."

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