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Rocca and Magpies await match review

By Adam Cooper 24/06/2007 05:07:19 PM Comments (0)

How the AFL match review panel assesses a shepherd made by Collingwood's Anthony Rocca in Saturday night's win over Sydney will likely determine whether the big forward plays in one of the season's most-anticipated games.

The Magpies are sweating on Monday's review after Rocca made a heavy bump on Sydney's Sean Dempster during the third quarter of the Telstra Stadium game, which Collingwood won by 19 points.

Rocca was shepherding teammate Alan Didak late in the quarter when he made contact, which caught Dempster high and forced the Swan from the ground for a medical assessment. Dempster was groggy at the time but uninjured.

Sydney were awarded a free kick for the contact but no report was made, however the incident is certain to come under scrutiny by the match review panel.

Ahead of a massive game against Hawthorn on Sunday, Collingwood will be hopeful the panel makes several assessments in the club's favour.

Although it cannot be doubted Rocca's contact collected Dempster high, there will be several other points up for debate as the panel decides whether to impose a suspension or give the forward the all-clear.

High contact will be a concern for Rocca given the AFL's crackdown on any contact to the head this season.

The panel must also decide whether the contact was of medium or high impact, whether it was reckless or intentional and whether the contact was made in play - meaning Didak had the ball within five metres at the time - or not.

If Rocca is reported, Collingwood will likely argue he kept his arm tucked into his body and that Dempster was leaning downwards at the point of contact.

Rocca's record could also come into play, as he has been suspended within the past five years.

Rocca was outed for two games, and missed the 2003 grand final, when he was found guilty of striking Port Adelaide's Brendon Lade in that year's preliminary final.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse outlined his support for Rocca after Saturday night's game, fearing the shepherd would become obsolete if his player was cited.

"Well you might say if the shepherd has gone out of the game when the player is already leaning in then we are in real trouble, the game is in real trouble," Malthouse said.

Malthouse was also concerned the physical side of the game was being removed, and that the sport would too closely resemble Gaelic football.

"We have to make sure the players are able to play the game the way the game was intended to be played," he said.

"Let's not get too pious and too regimented about it otherwise (Collingwood's Irish recruit) Martin (Clarke) will fit in beautifully because there will be no tackles and no bumps and nothing else and we will just change the name of the game to Gaelic oval ball."

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