Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield has left AFL fans divided after a controversial incident in the opening minutes of the grand final.
The veteran Cats midfielder absolutely cleaned up Richmond's Nick Vlastuin in a chaotic opening to the Gabba decider, that also saw Gary Ablett leave the ground with a shoulder injury.
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While Ablett was able to return to the middle towards the emend of the first quarter, Vlastuin was not so lucky.
The Tigers defender was knocked out by what appeared to be an accidental high elbow from Dangerfield.
The Cats star punched a contested ball, before bending his arm to brace for contact with Vlastuin, whom he clattered into a split second later.
Vlastuin lay motionless for several minutes before being taken off the ground on a stretcher, ruled out for the remainder of the game in a devastating setback.
— Yahoo Sport Australia (@YahooSportAu) October 24, 2020
Viewers were left outraged by the actions of Dangerfield, who they claimed deliberately used his elbow to wipe out his opponent.
#aflgrandfinal2020 Dangerfield will get 3 weeks. Dirty player.
— jcatiger (@jcatiger) October 24, 2020
Dangerfield as dirty as ever. Knocking out an opposition player in the first five minutes is so classy. I hope my Tigers rip you to shreds. #GrandFinal
— Jacki (@MissJackx) October 24, 2020
Dangerfield getting the good bloke treatment from the commentators. Danger cocked the arm, its double movement, if Lynch did it the treatment would have been completed different.
— Richmond Tiger Talk (@Richmond_TT) October 24, 2020
Or if Cotch did it, or Nick himself, or Dylan. Hypocrisy reigns supreme
— S Gardner-Drummond (@sgardnerdrummon) October 24, 2020
Absolutely disgusting. Commentators all about bloody Ablett. Feel for vlastuin bc his house was arsoned yesterday. Hope he’s ok!
— 🐯DeeZ🇦🇺🎾🎶 (@Dabutafly) October 24, 2020
Desperately trying not to replay that cocked elbow to the face by Dangerfield.
— Jimmy Wheelbarrow (@JimWheelbarrow) October 24, 2020
Dangerfield should be reported and is a DIRTY player
— CF (@fotic8) October 24, 2020
Dangerfield incident divides fans
While there was plenty of outrage over Dangerfield's contact, not everyone saw it that way.
Plenty of other viewers argued that the Geelong star was merely bracing for impact and the contact between his elbow and Vlastuin's head was just an unfortunate accident.
Dangerfield is bracing for contact. Really unfortunate but zero malice #AFLGF
— Todd Davey (@ToddJDavey) October 24, 2020
Dont know exactly what else he could have done.
— Jordan Beecham🌴 (@Beechy_IX) October 24, 2020
If he didn’t retract the arm he would have been injured. Nothing in it.
— #TeamFog - Offseason Mode activated (@darcyfogfan) October 24, 2020
Agree, unfortunate accident
— Hird my hero❤🖤#5 (@Salsa005) October 24, 2020
It’s bracing. Please tell me what you would do
— delafuentez (@CDeLaFuentez) October 24, 2020
In a rough and tough opening term, Geelong's Brandon Parfitt had his thumb checked for injury and Richmond's Nathan Broad was left groggy by a heavy collision and taken off the ground.
In good news for Geelong, Ablett was able to return to the ground after his early injury scare.
The retiring champion - playing his 357th and final match - hurt his left shoulder in a tackle from Tigers captain Trent Cotchin during an explosive opening five minutes.
Ablett was helped off the Gabba ground by trainers, clearly in pain, and was taken to the change room for medical assessment.
A huge cheer went around the ground when he reappeared on the bench at the 19-minute mark and he came back on before quarter-time.
Geelong took a 5.5 (35) to 3.2 (20) lead into halftime.
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