Bridgewater’s quest for an eighth-straight LVFNL flag suffered a blow on Tuesday night after number one ruckman Dave Harrison was suspended for four matches.
Harrison was found guilty of a rough conduct charge from the Mean Machine’s second semi-final win over Calivil United on August 19.
The Mean Machine and Calivil will meet again this week in the grand final at Serpentine.
Harrison was due to face the Loddon Valley league tribunal last Wednesday night after he was reported by a goal umpire for engaging in rough conduct against Calivil United’s Sam Green, but the Demons’ midfielder was unable to give evidence.
The delay in proceedings didn’t help Harrison.
The five-time premiership player pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Reporting goal umpire Dylan Lefevre told the tribunal he saw Harrison pick Green up in a tackle and then drove him into the ground and fell on top of him.
Lefevre described the tackle as “late”, “unwarranted” and “unnecessary”.
The officiating central umpire paid a free kick to Green, but did deem the tackle serious enough to report Harrison.
Green suffered a dislocated shoulder as a result of the incident and spent two days in hospital. He’ll also miss the grand final.
The lightly-built midfielder said he went to pick up the ball when he felt Harrison tackle him.
“He picked me up for a couple of steps and then landed on me,’’ Green said.
Harrison said he thought he’d earned a free kick for holding the ball when he heard the umpire blow his whistle.
“I thought it was a technically sound tackle between the hips and shoulder,’’ Harrison told the tribunal.
“My head was down as I went in for the tackle because I thought Sam had the ball.
“My momentum in the tackle carried me forward and I landed on Sam.”
Harrison denied lifting Green off the ground in the tackle.
After a hearing that lasted more than 90 minutes, tribunal chairman Bob Colbourne said the tribunal “had no doubt” that Harrison’s conduct was “unreasonable”.
Harrison’s advocate Peter Watson made an impassioned plea for the tribunal to hand Harrison a reprimand or suspended sentence because of the heavy price of missing a grand final.
However, the tribunal disagreed.
“Incidents where players are severely injured we take very seriously,’’ Colbourne said.
“We suspend you for the next four matches.”