Richmond dealt latest blow as Liam Baker fails to overturn suspension at AFL tribunal

Roger Vaughan and Oliver Caffrey
AAP
2 Min Read
Liam baker will serve a one macth ban for this hit.
Liam baker will serve a one macth ban for this hit. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Richmond have suffered another blow ahead of Gather Round, losing Liam Baker to a one-game suspension after their AFL tribunal appeal failed.

The Tigers gave the tribunal plenty to think about, with chairwoman Renee Enbom KC, Jason Johnson and David Neitz deliberating for 45 minutes on Tuesday night after the hour-long hearing.

But ultimately the panel upheld Baker’s ban for his high bump on Sydney opponent Lewis Melican on Sunday at the MCG.

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Richmond are already without star forward Tom Lynch (hamstring) and fellow tall Noah Balta (knee) for Sunday’s game against St Kilda at Adelaide’s Norwood Oval.

Lynch and Balta were injured in the Tigers five-point upset win over the Swans.

The verdict makes Baker the latest player to be suspended under the AFL’s crackdown on high bumps, with concerns about the long-term effects of concussion.

In handing down the verdict, Enbom said the panel agreed with Baker that he was trying to spoil the ball - but it was unrealistic and unreasonable.

“It was very late - Mr Melican had his hands on the ball well before Mr Baker used his right arm to spoil,” Enbom said.

It was forceful high contact that had real potential to cause injury, she added.

“Mr Baker was moving at speed, he propelled himself into the air ... it is clear from the vision that Mr Melican was affected by the contact,” Enbom said.

Baker, running with the flight of the ball, leaped into the air and turned his body in a heavy bump on Melican in the second term of Sunday’s clash.

Swans players immediately remonstrated with Baker over the incident, which was classified as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.

Liam Baker will miss this weekend’s clash for the already undermanned Tigers.
Liam Baker will miss this weekend’s clash for the already undermanned Tigers. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Richmond tried to have the rough conduct charge thrown out and also argued it should be graded as low impact, not medium.

Melican wasn’t injured by the hit, with the defender able to take his free kick, and the Swans medical report said he did not need any treatment.

“I was always trying to spoil the ball ... I never braced (to bump),” Baker said in his evidence.

Richmond advocate Sam Tovey said in the hearing that while there was contact to Melican’s head in the collision, it was incidental.

“If this was an attempt to bump, it was an extraordinarily poor and ineffective one,” Tovey said in his summary.

But AFL advocate Andrew Woods argued Baker’s action was unreasonable in the circumstances and met the criteria for a bump.

“Baker’s eyes are initially on the ball, but from a number of different angles his eyes drop to Melican,” Woods said.

St Kilda have accepted a one-game ban for youngster Marcus Windhager after his high bump on Essendon’s Sam Durham.

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