Ross to miss seven weeks, White four - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ross to miss seven weeks, White four

By Liam Fitzgibbon 26/03/2008 11:50:35 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla prop Ben Ross admitted he'd let down his teammates after he was ordered to sit out seven weeks over his late shot on Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk.

Ross's case had been referred straight to tonight's NRL judiciary hearing after he collected Cronk with a late, high elbow in Sunday's 17-16 win over Melbourne at Olympic Park.

NRL prosecutor Peter Kite called for a penalty of between seven and nine weeks and the judiciary panel of former players Darrell Williams, Royce Ayliffe and Bob Lindner agreed.

The judiciary also came down hard on Brett White's retaliation punch on Ross, the Storm prop given a four week ban.

But the news was better for Brisbane with fullback Karmichael Hunt cleared to play in Friday's match against North Queensland after beating the careless high tackle charge on Roosters five-eighth Braith Anasta.

Ross, who described the hit as a "mistimed push", was bitterly disappointed after the hearing.

He was most upset at the effect the suspension would have on his team, with the Sharks forward ranks already thinned by a season-ending knee injury to Reece Williams.

"I'm disappointed with the outcome," Ross said.

"I've probably let my club and my team down a lot with this and all I can say is I'm disappointed."

Ross's legal representative Jim Barnett referred to video footage of similar striking charges against former St George Illawarra players Adam Peek and Trent Barrett in a push for a much lighter penalty.

He added Ross's remorse over the incident should be taken into account.

But with the NRL cracking down on offences involving kickers and Ross's poor disciplinary record, the panel opted for a higher penalty.

White had entered an early guilty plea to his grade four striking charge but was unsuccessful in challenging the severity of the charge tonight.

His defensive team argued Ross's actions had provoked the NSW prop, while White himself said he only did "what he felt he had to do" to protect his halfback.

But the challenge failed and White had his penalty increased from three to four games.

White said after the hearing he wouldn't defend a teammate in the same manner again.

"If the situation arises (again) ... not for four weeks no, I wouldn't do it again," White said.

Hunt was cleared of a grade three careless high tackle charge, escaping a one match ban, after breaking Anasta's nose with his shoulder in Brisbane's 20-14 win over the Roosters last Friday.

As part of their defence, Brisbane's team sports scientist Dr Tim Gabbett successfully argued the contact Hunt made with Anasta's head was "unavoidable".

Dr Gabbett used video evidence to claim Anasta fell 59cm into the tackle leaving Hunt with a reaction time of only 120 milliseconds to alter his tackle, something he said was "not humanly possible" to do.

"I'm just happy the panel saw it our way, obviously it wasn't intentional and it was a great result for us," Hunt said.

"It's a huge relief. I was pretty confident that we had a good case to put forward."

Hunt is in doubt to face the Cowboys with a corked leg.

Manly prop Josh Perry was also let off the hook over his grade one striking charge.

Perry had pleaded not guilty to the charge for headbutting Newcastle's Danny Wicks' in Manly's 13-12 loss to the Knights last Saturday.

But he joined Hunt in successfully overturning a one-match suspension tonight, meaning he will be free to play the Warriors at Brookvale Oval on Monday night.

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