A positive medical report on Nick Malceski has almost certainly saved Lance Franklin from being suspended for much of the finals series.
If that is coupled with a consistent approach from the match review panel to punishing late high bumps the Hawthorn spearhead could even face Sydney on Friday.
Swans defender Malceski had facial scans at the weekend as a result of the bump to his head by Franklin last Friday night, which triggered the Hawks spearhead being reported for rough conduct. Malceski left the ground straight after for treatment but he promptly returned, and while he was substituted in the second half it was due to a sore foot rather than any lingering effects from Franklin’s bump.
Sydney coach John Longmire confirmed those resulting scans did not reveal any fracture to Malceski’s jaw or cheekbone.
‘‘He’s fine to play,’’ the Swans coach said. ‘‘There’s no break or anything.’’
The absence of any significant damage to Malceski is likely to limit Franklin’s impact grading to low. With there being no doubt the contact was high the biggest issue for the panel is likely to be whether it deems Franklin’s conduct reckless or negligent. The former would trigger a two-match ban that could be cut to one with a guilty plea, but the latter would be one down to a reprimand.
Players who have jumped to deliver high bumps have consistently attracted reckless gradings.
There have been at least three instances in 2013 where players have been punished for a late bump on an opponent and attracted the minimum grading of negligent: Brisbane Lions’s Billy Longer in round five to Melbourne’s Sam Blease, Geelong’s James Podsiadly in round 17 to Adelaide’s Richard Douglas and Essendon’s Paddy Ryder to West Coast’s Jamie Cripps in round 20. All were similar to the bump Franklin made to Malceski just after the Swans player kicked the ball out of defence.
The panel appraisals are announced on Monday afternoons.
Another finals-bound player likely to be sweating on the panel decision is Port Adelaide’s Dom Cassisi, for a sling tackle on Carlton’s Marc Murphy at the weekend. In the incident Cassisi tackled Murphy, and then swung him around his arms resulting in his head hitting the ground. If Cassisi is cited and his rough-conduct offence attracts a grading of negligent conduct, low impact and high contact he would be able to reduce the resulting one-match ban to a reprimand. That would clear him to face Collingwood on Saturday night at the MCG.
Essendon’s Jake Melksham is also in danger of missing the start of 2014 because of a strike to Richmond’s Daniel Jackson. Melksham’s blow was aimed just below Jackson’s throat but resulted in a bloodied nose because it coincided with the Tigers midfielder leaning into him.