The Melbourne Demons have suffered a devastating injury blow to Jake Melksham ahead of the AFL finals, but Blues star Jacob Weitering has escaped with a fine for an alleged eye gouge. GWS captain Toby Greene said Weitering "might be in trouble" for making contact near his eye during the Giants' 32-point win over Carlton on Sunday that locked in their finals berth.
Carlton, who saw Charlie Curnow secure a second straight Coleman Medal, were locked in to finish fifth regardless of the result and will now host Sydney in their knockout final. But they were sweating on the availability of key defender Weitering, who tangled with Greene in a nasty-looking incident.
Weitering attempted to pull Greene off teammate Mitch McGovern when the pair tangled moments before half-time. Replays showed Weitering made contact with his fingers near Greene's left eye, and the GWS captain was bleeding afterwards.
Greene missed the preliminary final in 2019 after receiving a one-match suspension over a similar incident involving Brisbane's Lachie Neale. "He might be in trouble," Greene said of Weitering on Fox Footy. "I think I got in trouble for that, so we'll see how he goes. I was hoping for a free kick. That's fine."
Brisbane veteran Dayne Zorko copped a one-game ban earlier this season after he was charged with making contact to the eye region of Luke Pedlar. “The vision captures Zorko first move his right hand to the face of Luke Pedlar,” Tribunal chairperson Renee Enbom said at the time.
“It captures his finger, bent and in a scratching-type position. It also captures the bent finger of Zorko above Pedlar’s eye socket, but then the finger moves down and in our view into the vicinity of the eye socket.
“We are satisfied that contact was made to the eye region. Contact was not to the eye itself, which in our view explains why Pedlar did not react to the incident. It also provides an explanation for the medical report. It’s not surprising he didn’t recall the incident given contact was not to the eye itself. We uphold the charge.”
Luckily for Weitering and the Blues he escaped with a $3000 fine on Monday despite being charged with making "unreasonable or unnecessary contact". The penalty can be reduced to $2000 with an early guilty plea. Crucially, Weitering's action was graded as careless conduct, low impact and high contact.
Melbourne rocked by brutal Jake Melksham injury
Earlier on Sunday, the Demons surged into the AFL finals with a 21-point triumph over Sydney, but the win came at a huge cost. Melksham limped to the bench and was subbed out of the clash with the Swans in the third term at the SCG, and scans confirmed a ruptured ACL on Monday.
"We fear the worst, but we hope for the best," Goodwin said on Sunday. "Looking at an ACL, which is really sad for Melky. It takes a really big dent in the day.
"I've coached Jake for a long time, 14 years, and he's just craving the opportunity to play in a successful team in finals footy. We hope that'll be the case, but we'll just have to wait and see."
Melksham has played 107 matches for Melbourne since joining from Essendon for the 2017 season. The forward missed selection in the finals teams that went on to win the grand final in 2021.
The 31-year-old has been a regular in the Demons' line-up since round 16 this year. But he will now be sidelined for the playoffs campaign that will start with a qualifying final against Collingwood.
Devastated for Melksham
— BomberBoss (@Bombers_Boss) August 27, 2023
Not a fan of him, I’m sure he couldn’t care less. But you hate to see it! Speedy recovery 🙏
— Dwayne Potsclub (@potsclub32) August 27, 2023
AFL week one finals fixtures:
Collingwood (1) v Melbourne (4) - qualifying final - Thursday September 7, MCG, 7.20pm
Carlton (5) v Sydney (8) - elimination final - Friday September 8, MCG, 7.50pm
St Kilda (6) v GWS (7) - elimination final - Saturday September 9, MCG, 3.20pm
Brisbane (2) v Port Adelaide (3) - qualifying final - Saturday September 9, Gabba, 7.25pm
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.