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Lions dealt major blow on finals eve as defender cops equal-longest AFLW ban

Brisbane Lions defender Dee Heslop has been handed a three-match suspension in a crushing blow to the club’s AFLW finals aspirations.

Key points:

Dee Heslop’s suspension equals the longest handed down in AFLW history
She was cited for a sling tackle that saw Melbourne’s Rhi Watt concussed
Heslop may have a chance to return later in the finals series

The tribunal’s decision equals the longest ban in AFLW history, matching Adelaide’s Najwa Allen’s suspension for rough conduct last year.

Heslop was cited for a sling tackle that saw Melbourne’s Rhi Watt knocked out in last Saturday night’s match in Springfield.

Her only chance of playing again this season rests on the Lions losing Saturday’s qualifying final against the Adelaide Crows, then winning their next two matches.

She would then be available for the grand final.

Heslop’s tackle was graded as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact and she was sent directly to the tribunal.

Wednesday night’s hearing was told Watt, upon her head hitting the ground, was immediately unconscious.

She has been ruled out of the Demons’ final against North Melbourne on Sunday.

Watt could miss the following week should Melbourne advance, the tribunal heard.

The 22-year-old Heslop argued she did not sling Watt in a tackle but had the entire weight of the Demon on her as they fell to ground.

“It was just an unfortunate event, her hitting her head,” Heslop told the tribunal.

“I have just gone to wrap her up, to make a tackle.

“I had no control, her momentum is falling back on me … I had all her body weight on top of me.”

Fellow Lion Charlotte Mullins was cleared to play, overturning a one-match ban for striking Melbourne’s Shelley Heath.

Geelong’s Kate Darby will also miss her club’s elimination final against Essendon.

Darby was cited for rough conduct in a collision with Hawthorn’s Jas Fleming last weekend but described contact as inevitable after the Hawk suddenly changed direction.

The tribunal found her guilty of the charge, rated as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.




Author: Russell White