Baker to miss two matches, avoids third - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Baker to miss two matches, avoids third

By Jordan Chong 08/05/2007 10:02:28 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda tagger Steven Baker came away from the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night with a two-game suspension, but it could have been worse.

Baker was found guilty of two charges - one of rough conduct and another of striking - but, in an unusual situation, he was spared a third week on the sidelines thanks to the ruling of Tribunal chairman David Jones.

Instead of combining the points from both guilty verdicts, which would given Baker a three-game ban, Jones allowed the Saints tagger to carry forward 155 demerit points towards his next appearance at the tribunal, effectively handing down a one-match suspended sentence.

Jones said at the conclusion of the second case it was not appropriate to carry over the points because the rules did not appear to cover Baker's situation.

"In a situation such as this where there is doubt, the player should be given the benefit of that doubt," Jones said.

"It would not be appropriate to attach the carry over from the first matter."

Baker's player advocate Sean Carroll said the 155 points over the Saints tagger would serve as a deterrent towards re-offending.

"That may be a good thing for this player to have that hanging over his head," Carroll told the tribunal.

The tribunal's legal counsel Will Houghton, QC, believed Baker should have received a three-game suspension.

"You can't have a situation where a player carries forward more than 100 points," he said.

The AFL could challenge the ruling, given a media release sent out on Tuesday indicated Baker faced the prospect of three matches on the sidelines.

"Please note that for where a player has multiple charges in a week, such as St Kilda's Steven Baker on this occasion, the sanctions are added together and each 100 demerit points counts for a one-match suspension," the release said.

Asked if he thought the AFL might overrule the decision, St Kilda football manager Ken Sheldon said: "My answer to that is whatever will be will be. We've come along here tonight and we have put our best foot forward."

"At the end of the day our player has got a two-match suspension with that 150 points hanging over his head and that's the decision.

"Whilst we're disappointed we're prepared to cop that on the chin and move on."

Baker misses matches against Sydney and Hawthorn.

In the first case, the 26-year-old was found guilty of rough conduct in a collision with Carlton's Jordan Russell.

Video footage showed an airborne Baker making front-on contact to Russell's chest and neck area.

Baker said he had no alternative and raised his arms to protect himself to avoid a clash of heads, while Russell said he suffered a bruise on his chest and had trouble breathing after the incident.

In the second case he was reported by emergency umpire Matthew Head for striking talented Carlton youngster Marc Murphy.

Head told the tribunal he saw Baker swing his left arm and make contact to Murphy's stomach with a clenched fist.

But Baker said he used an open hand to push Murphy away, a tactic the tagger had employed throughout the game.

"I swear on my mother's life it was a palm," Baker said in his evidence.

In other cases, Fremantle defender Dean Solomon unsuccessfully challenged his misconduct charge and will be forced to sit out the club's clash with Hawthorn this weekend.

Solomon was found guilty of kneeing Brisbane's Jason Roe, but had the charge downgraded from reckless to negligent, which reduced the suspension from two weeks to just one.

Also, the tribunal found Hawthorn midfielder Sam Mitchell guilty of making contact with field umpire Stefan Grun and was fined $3,200.

Meanwhile, Geelong ruckman Steven King was cleared of a tripping charge at the VFL Tribunal.

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