UPDATE: West Coast will have Quinten Lynch at their disposal for their semi-final against Collingwood on Saturday after the big forward was cleared of a charge at the AFL Tribunal tonight.
Lynch had a one-game suspension hanging over his head before the challenge. It is a relief for West Coast after losing vice-captain Beau Waters for the rest of the season with a foot injury.
Match review panel chairman Mark Fraser had said Lynch risked seriously injuring North Melbourne’s Scott McMahon when he drove his knee into the Kangaroo’s back in a marking contest.
“If you go into a contest knees first like that, even though there is an attempt to hit the ball over there, we think that’s worthy of charging,” Fraser told afl.com.au.
“It does have the potential in the worst-case scenario that you break somebody’s back. It was a very forceful hit and we believe that’s a charge.”
The offence, rated as negligent conduct with low impact and body contact, would normally have attracted a reprimand, but Lynch’s poor record and demerit points increased the penalty to one week.
The ban would not have been increased if the Eagles’ challenge was unsuccessful.
Waters was carried from the field during Sunday’s victory and scans showed that he had separated one of the sesamoid bones in his foot and damaged ligaments under the joint of his big toe.
The inspirational defender will have surgery later this week and spend up to 10 weeks recovering.
Norm Smith medallist Andrew Embley said Waters’ fighting character had shone through since the incident.
“Beau’s a really important player to the team and to see him on crutches is not great,” Embley said.
“But he’s a wonderful character.
“He’s in at the club and he’s got a smile on his face.”
The Eagles have done an amazing job of covering for season-ending injuries to Mark LeCras (knee) and Mark Nicoski (hamstring) before round one.
They then lost Embley (shoulder) for 17 weeks, key forward Josh Kennedy (ankle) for 15 games, Brad Sheppard’s season ended after round 19 and Matt Rosa has played just one of the past six games because of a broken jaw and fractured collarbone.
But Rosa is a strong chance to return for Saturday night as a replacement for Waters.
“His shoulder is feeling pretty good and I would expect he would be really, really close to selection this week,” Embley said.
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