AFL facing test after brutal Brad Crouch hit exposes Tribunal debacle

Brad Crouch is pictured laying a bump on Darcy Gardiner on the left, and arguing with Brisbane Lions players on the right.
All eyes will be on the AFL Tribunal after Brad Crouch's high hit on Darcy Gardiner on Friday night. Pictures: Channel 7/Getty Images

The AFL is set to come under intense scrutiny after St Kilda's Brad Crouch collected Brisbane's Darcy Gardiner with a late bump that echoed Patrick Cripps' controversial hit last round.

St Kilda's finals chances had a line put through them when wayward goalkicking against the Lions on Friday night doomed them to a disappointing 15-point loss.

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It was a horror night for the Saints, who had every opportunity to continue their top eight push when they lead by five points at three-quarter-time.

Instead, Crouch could well find himself in the middle of a long-running AFL debate about the role of the bump, which has only intensified since Cripps had his two-match ban for his hit on Brisbane's Callum Ah Chee scrapped by the Appeals Board.

The appeal ruled that Cripps hadn't been given 'procedural fairness' by the AFL Tribunal.

Crouch is in hot water after he left his feet to hit Gardiner late, collecting the Lions defender high and sending training sprinting out to attend to him.

The hit lead to some debate among the Channel 7 commentary team, with Daisy Pearce expecting Crouch to be sidelined for multiple games as a result.

“That’s not good I don’t think,” Brian Taylor said.

“That’s head contact with a bump and it could’ve been a tackle.”

Pearce said Crouch's fate would rest on what condition Gardiner was in after the game.

“That’s weeks. At least a week and anything upward of that hinges on what those doctors are working out right now," she said.

Fans were quick to discuss the incident on social media as well.

The Blues rolled the dice with Cripps by going to the appeals board and won a marathon hearing on Thursday night.

The decision freed up Cripps to play this week while Ah Chee was unavailable for the Lions under concussion protocols.

"I'm probably a bit confused about how that's going to be interpreted going forward, it's fair to say," Fagan said on Friday night.

"Good on Carlton for pursuing it and getting their player free but I thought we were all about protecting the head.

"Cal Ah Chee had no chance to protect his own head last week.

"He was off early in the game last week and he's not playing this week as a result of it (concussion).

"We get penalised for that and unfortunately Cal gets injured."

St Kilda's finals chances in tatters after wayward AFL performance

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has no doubt Max King will bounce back after the spearhead's wayward goal-kicking proved costly in a loss to Brisbane that all but ended the Saints' AFL finals chances.

King gradually worked his way into Friday night's contest against Lions star Harris Andrews but let himself down in front of goal, finishing with 0.5 in the 15-point defeat.

It left the Saints needing a series of results to fall their way in order to sneak into the top-eight.

King's goal-kicking has been a glaring issue at times throughout his 59-game career but Ratten backed the 22-year-old to find his groove.

"He's doing a power of work and what I do know is I want Max King in my corner," Ratten said.

St Kilda players look dejected as they walk from the field after their AFL loss to Brisbane.
St Kilda's finals hopes are all but over after wayward goalkicking cost them dearly against the Brisbane Lions. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

"He'll be at our footy club for 10 years and when we look back we'll be saying what a great player he is and what he's done.

"Tonight he had a night where it didn't work for him. He did everything right bar the finish.

"He's 22 years of age, we love what he brings to the footy club and he's developing, but we know he's doing the work.

"Sometimes you don't get the reward all the time but he'll keep doing that and you watch, he'll turn it around."

King kicked three behinds in the third quarter, including two bad misses from set shots about 20 metres out.

He also had a chance to level the scores during the final term but missed from 40 metres before the Lions went coast-to-coast from the kick-in, resulting in a crucial Joe Daniher goal.

Former champion Essendon Matthew Lloyd, who coached King in school football, said in 3AW's commentary that he felt "sick" for the young star.

St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt said his heir in the No.12 jumper "just looked completely devoid of confidence".


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