Fyfe caught by crackdown on bumps

A crackdown on bumps designed to protect players' heads appears destined to rule Fremantle star Nat Fyfe out of Brownlow Medal contention.

Fyfe was offered a two-match ban for his third-quarter bump on Gold Coast opponent Michael Rischitelli in Fremantle's win over the Suns on Saturday night, and coach Ross Lyon said the club did not expect to win any appeal.

The suspension will be a bitter blow for the 22-year-old midfielder, who possibly earned maximum Brownlow votes after starring in the opening two rounds against Collingwood and the Suns.

The Dockers were dealt an added blow by the match review panel when defender Zac Dawson was offered a one-match suspension for tripping Brandon Matera in the second quarter.

Fremantle take on Hawthorn, the Dockers' grand final conquerors, at the MCG on Friday night.

Fyfe was charged with rough conduct, becoming the first player to fall victim to rules introduced by the league this year to crack down on head clashes involving bumps. The 22-year-old Docker made legal contact in collecting the Suns midfielder in the right shoulder. However, the charge stemmed from the subsequent clash of heads that left Rischitelli bloodied.

Fyfe was penalised over his choice to bump rather than smother or tackle as Rischitelli kicked the ball.

Fremantle will announce whether they will appeal against the ruling this morning, but Lyon said he was not optimistic of winning any challenge.

"It's a product of his shoulder injuries," he said on 6PR.

"When he should tackle a few times, he tends to just protect and sort of move them with his body. I can't comment too much really on intention with Nathan, but the reality is there's a rule and there's an action that he's done."

Fremantle lost a gamble to contest Fyfe's ban for a kicking charge last year, and the club champion's penalty was then increased from one to two games.

But they would have less to lose this time round because the on-baller's poor record means he cannot escape a two-week ban even with an early guilty plea.

Dawson's carryover points mean his tripping charge will rule him out for one week.

Bookmakers had either suspended or called off Brownlow betting on Fyfe yesterday after the midfielder had previously been as short as $7 to become the first Docker to win the prize.

Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall said on Fox Footy last night the two-week ban was "harsh" but the rules were clear.

Lyon said Hayden Ballantyne (head knock) and Michael Walters (ankle) had pulled up well after being injured against Gold Coast, but Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson (both general soreness) faced fitness assessments tomorrow.

"It's a product of his shoulder injuries … he tends to just protect and … move them with his body." " *Ross Lyon * on Nat Fyfe

The West Australian

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