Lions to challenge Berry ban at the Tribunal in desperate prelim bid

Brisbane will take Jarrod Berry’s one-week suspension for an incident with Clayton Oliver in their semi-final win over Melbourne to the AFL Tribunal.

Berry was accused of eye-gouging the Demons star during a scuffle in the third quarter at the MCG, with Oliver quickly complaining to the umpire.

Match Review Officer Michael Christian charged Berry with making ‘unreasonable or unnecessary contact to Oliver’s eye region’, grading the incident as intentional conduct, low impact and high contact.

The suspension would have seen Berry ruled out of the Lions’ preliminary final clash with Geelong; with the stakes so high, they were always expected to take the case further.

The suspension has sparked major debate since being handed down on Saturday evening, with Fox Footy‘s Jason Dunstall saying the incident should have been classified as ‘careless’ rather than ‘intentional’.

“I think careless is a great way to describe it… he’s getting his face and his neck crushed by a forearm,” Dunstall said.

“You’re just grappling and trying to struggle to find a little bit of freedom. I didn’t see the fingers go into the eyes at all, so I think they’ve got a great case to argue.

“There’s a difference between pushing a face and actually getting the fingers in and gouging.

“If you can bring it back to careless, I think you can get it to a fine.”

The 24-year old was one of the Lions’ best afield in their semi final triumph, winning 26 disposals, including 22 in the second half when he was moved to tag Oliver.

The alleged eye gouge dominated discussion immediately following the match, with Fox Footy‘s Garry Lyon suggesting Berry was in for a ‘world of pain’ for the incident.

“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.

“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.”

Fellow panellist Nathan Buckley agreed, describing it as a ‘really poor moment’ from Berry.

“That’s so bittersweet. The thing that has won them this game is that match up [Berry’s tag on Oliver],” Buckley said.

“That performance in the second half by a young player, but he’s very unlikely to see next week given that incident.”

However, Berry himself believed he had no case to answer, telling Fox it was ‘nothing purposeful’.

“Just a little scuffle in the center of the MCG, you know how it is,” Berry said following the match.

“It’s just part of the contest and just part of the mental battle.”

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