Barry Hall escapes charge, free to play - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Barry Hall escapes charge, free to play

06/09/2010 06:25:37 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs key forward Barry Hall has caught another September break, evading suspension for punching Collingwood's Harry O'Brien.

Hall is free to play in Saturday's knockout semi-final against Sydney after the match review panel decided against charging him for a left jab to O'Brien's chest in the second quarter of last Saturday's qualifying final at the MCG.

Hall, who was fined $3000 in May for putting North Melbourne's Scott Thompson in a headlock, was banned for a total of 10 matches in 2008 and 2009 while playing for Sydney for striking West Coast's Brent Staker, Collingwood's Shane Wakelin and Adelaide's Ben Rutten.

With a penalty of at least one match likely if found guilty of striking O'Brien because demerit points given to Hall carry a 50 per cent loading, the 33-year-old breathed a sigh of relief on Monday.

The review panel said 104kg powerhouse Hall's contact with O'Brien "was below that required to constitute a reportable offence".

However the Coleman Medal runner-up was charged with using abusive language towards field umpire Matthew Nicholls during the second quarter of the match, and can accept a $1950 fine with an early plea.

Hall, who has kicked 75 goals in his debut season for the Bulldogs, is certain to face more niggling tactics from his old side at the MCG on Saturday night after showing signs his temper was fraying during a tense first half against the Magpies.

O'Brien knocked over Hall with a powerful bump in the second quarter and Hall was quick to get back in the Collingwood defender's face after a goal from the Bulldogs late in the term.

While the Bulldogs' high turnover rate and Collingwood's defensive pressure did Hall no favours, the former amateur boxer's constant battles off the ball with Magpies players may have also contributed to his modest return of 2.3 and seven possessions in the 62-point loss.

Hall, who has missed more games (26) through suspension than any other current AFL player, will be hoping Monday's good news from the review panel produces the same ultimate result as in 2005, when he played in a premiership side.

Triple All-Australian Hall almost missed Sydney's drought-breaking grand final victory over West Coast because of a punch to the stomach of St Kilda's Matt Maguire in the 2005 preliminary final.

The then Swans co-captain received a reprimand after pleading guilty to striking Maguire, but successfully arguing the incident took place "in play" rather than "behind play".

In other tribunal news on Monday, Hawthorn's Shaun Burgoyne was charged with a level one offence for engaging in rough conduct against Fremantle's Alex Silvagni during the second quarter of their elimination final.

Due to his previous poor record, his sanction must remain at one game, even with an early plea.

As the Hawks are out of the premiership race, Burgoyne will serve the ban in round one next year if he pleads guilty.

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