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Bombers' Hocking out for three matches

John Salvado 17/05/2011 05:20:28 PM Comments (0)

Essendon midfielder Heath Hocking won't be seen again in the AFL until mid-June after the Bombers acknowledged there was little point challenging his three-match ban for striking.

Hocking was slugged with a level five offence by the match review panel for an off-the-ball elbow to the head of Brisbane's James Polkinghorne in Saturday night's clash at the Gabba.

Despite a previous clean record, the 23-year-old Hocking risked a four-match sanction if he unsuccessfully contested the report at the tribunal.

So the club decided the early guilty plea was the best option.

"We think the chances of succeeding in this case are low so Heath will plead guilty, accept the three-week penalty and we will move on," Essendon football operations general manager Paul Hamilton said.

"Obviously it's very disappointing for the club and Heath has vowed that it will never happen again."

Hocking will be sidelined for the Bombers' upcoming games against Richmond, Melbourne and Fremantle.

As the Bombers have the bye in round 10, Hocking will not be available again for senior selection until the June 18 home clash with North Melbourne.

With skipper Jobe Watson (hamstring) joining a long Essendon injury list, Hocking's absence will be keenly felt in Saturday night's clash with Richmond, where he would probably have been handed the run-with role on either of the Tigers' midfield young guns Trent Cotchin or Dustin Martin.

St Kilda defender Steven Baker and Melbourne utility Lynden Dunn also submitted early guilty pleas on Tuesday.

Baker will miss the Saints' upcoming matches against Melbourne and Fremantle after pleading guilty to striking Hawthorn's Michael Osborne.

"He's been a really hard worker and a fierce competitor, clearly he plays on the edge," said St Kilda coach Ross Lyon of Baker.

"When he crosses that, he gets the appropriate penalty.

"Then he serves that time and gets an opportunity to press for selection and play again."

St Kilda team-mate David Armitage has accepted a reprimand and 60 points towards his future record after pleading guilty to striking Hawthorn's Grant Birchall.

Dunn will also miss two games for the Demons - against St Kilda and Carlton - after pleading guilty to engaging in rough conduct against North Melbourne's Daniel Pratt.

Brisbane youngster Sam Sheldon and Richmond midfielder Robin Nahas have both been fined $900 for making negligent contact with an umpire.

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