Brisbane Lions face nervous wait after Jarrod Berry 'eye gouge'

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Highlighted left is Jarrod Berry appearing to touch the eyes of Clayton Oliver, with Oliver remonstrating on the right.
Brisbane Lions midfielder Jarrod Berry was a matchwinner in the AFL semi-final, but is in hot water after making contact to the eyes of Demons rival Clayton Oliver. Pictures: Getty Images

The Brisbane Lions will be sweating on the availability of match-winner Jarrod Berry for next weekend's AFL preliminary final after he appeared to gouge the eye of Melbourne's Clayton Oliver.

Berry was switched onto Oliver to start the second half of Brisbane's thrilling comeback win over the reigning premiers on Friday night, having a telling impact on the outcome.

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However a moment mid-way through the third quarter could potentially put an end to Berry's season, after his fingers appeared to graze Oliver's eyes as the pair wrestled on the ground.

Oliver complained to the umpire about the incident after he came over to separate the pair, with the officials also keeping an eye on the pair's back-and-forth from that point on.

It could be a costly error of judgement for Berry, who was instrumental in the 14.8.92 to 11.13.79 victory at the MCG.

Berry finished with 26 disposals and eight marks, as well as curtailing the work of the influential Oliver around Melbourne stoppages.

Channel 7 commentator Brian Taylor said replays of the incident between Berry and Oliver didn't look good for the Lions star.

“Definitely gone for the eye there, Berry,” Taylor said.

“There is absolutely no doubt that those fingers got tangled with Oliver’s eye.

“How forceful it was, is hard to tell. It’s not great vision though.

When asked about the incident after the match Berry sought to play it down, saying it was 'nothing purposeful' and describing it as 'just a little scuffle in the centre of the MCG'.

There has been a degree of animosity between the Lions and Demons, after a late-season clash between the two teams resulted in a sledge from Lions captain Dayne Zorko towards defender Harrison Petty that was widely seen as having crossed a line.

Fox Footy contributor Jon Ralph suggested Berry could potentially avoid a direct charge for eye-gouging.

“I think he’s in strife, he doesn’t even have to be found guilty of eye-gouging which is the old fashioned charge,” Ralph said.

“All he needs to be found guilty of is one of two charges: unnecessary or unreasonable contact to the face or to the eyes.

“The issues is if he’s assessed as intentional, low impact and to the face or eyes then that’s a one week suspension. So if he can have it assessed as careless then that’s the best option for him to be available to play.

“But I would think that’s more likely to be intentional impact and I think it’s off to the tribunal.”

No love was lost between the two teams in the tough contest, but it was ultimately the Lions who broke their MCG curse to set up a preliminary final showdown against the Sydney Swans.

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The general consensus from AFL oberservers was that Berry was almost certain to miss the preliminary final, and potentially the grand final of things don't go his way.

Berry was on the receiving end of a similar incident last year, when Fremantle midfielder Andrew Brayshaw received a one-match suspension for intentionally making "unnecessary or unreasonable contact" to the Lion's eye region.

Brisbane will be hoping they can avoid another September suspension after Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth were both banned from playing in the qualifying final.

Berry limited Oliver to seven disposals after halftime and had 22 of his own as the Lions ran over the top of their opponents.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan later revealed Berry had requested the defensive role days earlier, only to be told Robertson would get the first crack.

But Lions assistant coach Cameron Bruce demanded Berry be moved onto Oliver at the main break after the Demons midfielder had a big say in first-half proceedings.

"It was a very, very important move and I won't take credit for that one because Cam Bruce suggested it at halftime, forcefully, and I took his advice," Fagan said.

"It ended up being a great move because Berry was fantastic for us."

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said the win would be a 'bittersweet' one for Berry, who would be 'very unlikely to see next week'.

Fox Footy commentator and former Demons star Garry Lyon also took a dim view of the situation.

“I don’t want to use the word eye gouge, but we know when you get into this situation sometimes you’re doing things to try and get yourself out of them,” Lyon said.

“Any hand around the eye or motion around the eye is always going to be something the MRO look on very sternly.

“It’s the first movement – it’s a slight raking motion of the eyes. I don’t think you can be a little bit guilty of this.”

With AAP

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