AFL great Nathan Buckley says GWS “had to” take Toby Bedford’s one-match ban to the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night as their season goes on the line in next week’s elimination final.
But they risk history repeating after unsuccessfully challenging a separate rough conduct charge against Bedford earlier this month at the Tribunal.
In the latest case, Bedford was slapped with a ban for his bump on Blue Zac Fisher while attempting to shepherd in Sunday’s win.
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But after dishing off the handpass to teammate Harry Himmelberg, Bedford stepped across in front of Fisher and made contact that sent the defender sprawling to the turf.
Replays of the incident show Bedford immediately going to Fisher’s aid at Marvel Stadium. The Blue was able to play out the game.
“He apologised – he knew what happened. He did the right thing, he went to shepherd and allow his teammate to not feel any pressure,” Mark Robinson said on AFL360.
“In the old days it used to be called a shepherd, now they call it a block. He turned his back and left himself exposed and hit him (Fisher) in the head.
“I think it wasn’t intentional … but I think it is careless.”
The Match Review agreed Bedford’s actions were careless, medium impact and high and given it’s his second rough conduct charge, he was hit with the ban.
The suspension comes just 21 days after Bedford was last banned. Without him and teammate Brent Daniels the Giants struggled badly, losing their Round 22 clash with Port Adelaide by a whopping 51 points.
So significant was Bedford’s absence that Buckley believes the Giants had no choice but to try and challenge the charge at the Tribunal.
“They missed the Port Adelaide game three weeks ago – it’s the only time GWS didn’t look like GWS in the last three months. They are that significant to what they are doing and they were both out at the same time,” Buckley said On the Couch.
“Bedford has been a great recruit – as good as any from any team this year.
“When players have gone through (arriving at a new club after being on the outs) they build resilience … and then a real hunger to prove themselves when they get there.”
Couch host Garry Lyon agreed Bedford’s importance to the Giants’ team could not be underestimated.
“Toby Bedford has been super for this GWS side,” he said.
“He and Daniels inside their forward 50 has been as significant as anyone, or played as big a role.
“They’ve gone straight to appeal here. Don’t underestimate just how significant Bedford and Daniels have been in what (GWS) have been able to do.
“A great example of looking at an opposition’s list and find out where the superfluous player is who is good enough to play but just not good enough at that time – because he’s up against a Kozzie Pickett, Charlie Spargo, an emerging (Jake) Melksham at Melbourne so fourth in line (before heading to GWS). So target, go and get it, and he’s capable.”
Robinson said while Bedford’s bump on Fisher was careless, he didn’t feel it was a necessary action.
“Yes it’s a tough game and you can intimidate and you can aggressively hit someone – he didn’t have to do it,” he said.
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“All he had to do was step in front, he didn’t have to go back.
“He didn’t have to – the shepherd’s already on! He’s already stopped him.
“The argument is did he go back, did he have to do it?
“You’re allowed to do it but you’re not allowed to hit someone in the head when you do it.
“If he just sort of shepherded him and cut off the angle a little bit further, it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Fellow AFL360 host Gerard Whateley thought the Giants had two avenues to appeal the Bedford ban in promising signs for their elimination final hopes against St Kilda.
“Fisher is grabbing for his throat which is high, but it’s not his head which I think does play a role tomorrow night,” he said.
“I think the medium grading, that’s the most fertile on which to challenge.
“There’s clearly an avenue for the Giants to have two bites at this – one is that it was completely accidental in what was a very natural act that goes awry and the second is (getting the act graded) medium down to low.
“Fisher plays on unimpeded … it’s high stakes.”
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