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AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL

Tribunal ousts another Saint

MELBOURNE: Struggling St Kilda lost its seventh player for the season when forward Glen Middlemiss was suspended for two matches by the VFL's tribunal last night.

It was the third time this season that Middlemiss had incurred a two-game pen alty on a striking chargc, but the Saints fared better when ruck rover GeofT Cun ningham was cleared on a similar charge.

Middlemiss, 28, who played his 50th VFL game last Saturday, was found guilty of striking Richmond captain Barry Rowl ings in the final quarter of the game at the

MCG.

On April 24 Middlemiss was suspended for two games for striking Russell Morris, of Hawthorn, in the reserves game and on May 7 received a similar penalty for strik ing Carlton's Mark Buckley.

He resumed only last Saturday after serving out the latter suspension.

Field umpire Vas Vasiliou, who re ported Middlemiss, said the Richmond captain had the ball and was ducking and weaving when Middlemiss came straight at him as he kicked the ball.

"A second later Middlemiss brought his arm up and struck Rowlings to the head," Vasiliou said.

Rowlings said he baulked when he saw Middlemiss coming towards him and the St Kilda player later made contact with his

shoulder.

"When I got up I held my face because I had hit the ground with my face," he said.

Middlemiss, who pleaded not guilty, said there was no way of stopping as he went in after Rowlings.

Players advocate Bob Stewart described the contact as "a little bit late and not malicious".

Field umpire Peter Howe, who reported Cunningham for striking Richmond's Tim Gepp with the left forearm to the head during the fourth quarter of the same game, told the tribunal the video replay showed only the aftermath, not the actual incident.

He said Cunningham had chased Gepp down the ground and when the Richmond player slowed and almost stopped Cun

ningham came through, threw out his left forearm and struck Gepp.

Howe said he was 80m away from them and by the time he arrived on the scene other players had been involved in anoth er major mix-up.

"I tried to get Cunningham to under stand what the report was about, but so many other St Kilda players were there yelling I decided to let it go — there was a lot happening at the time," Howe said.

Cunningham, who also pleaded not guilty, said he had made contact with Gepp's body with his shoulder but denied acting as the umpire had alleged.

Stewart, who said Cunningham was renowned for his fairness, described the incident as a normal procedure.

He said Cunningham had played more than 130 games with the Saints and repre sented Victoria six times including this year without being reported.

In announcing that the charge had not been sustained, Don Hammond said there were conflicting situations which led up to the charge and the tribunal had doubts on the matter.

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