TERANG Mortlake forward Chris Bant will miss two matches after a Hampden league independent tribunal last night found him guilty of unbecoming conduct.
Bant will miss crucial clashes against South Warrnambool and Koroit as the fifth-placed Bloods attempt to hold on to their elimination final berth.
The suspension stems from an incident during the North Warrnambool Eagles-Terang Mortlake round 11 match which left Tom Batten with concussion.
The panel heard Batten received the ball from a teammate after a ball-up near the Bushfield Recreation Reserve scoreboard in the first term of the match.
The Eagles utility then handballed to a running Ben Mugavin before copping contact to the right side of his face, although he was unaware from who.
Batten was helped off the ground by trainers and attended hospital at half-time. He had Monday off work and was unable to train the following week.
Mugavin and spectators Jared Hastings and Mick McKinnon also gave evidence at the hearing.
The two onlookers were adamant Bant had used a raised elbow. Hastings said Bant “didn’t try to stop”, while McKinnon called the act deliberate.
But their evidence was contradicted by two Terang Mortlake witnesses: player Michael Sargeant and runner Simon Schrama, along with Bant.
The trio said Bant had attempted to close Batten down and raised his arms in an effort to deflect the handball to Mugavin.
They were insistent Batten had moments later run into Bant’s right arm while attempting to get past him.
There were differing versions of events throughout the hearing, which was at times tense between Bloods advocate Chris O’Connor and the Eagles witnesses.
The appearance of the Sargeant and Schrama was also controversial, as neither had been interviewed by investigations officer Roy Baker before the hearing.
Baker appeared disappointed that he did not know they would give evidence. He accused the Bloods’ witnesses of discussing the case in the lead-up to last night.
“I’m not satisfied those witnesses’ accounts are truthful,” he said during his summary.
“I’m satisfied the evidence given by Batten, Mugavin, Hastings and McKinnon is to the best of their recollections.”
But O’Connor fiercely denied the claim, saying the Bloods’ representatives were the only witnesses who had provided similar versions of events.
“I don’t know why that would mean they weren’t truthful,” he said.
O’Connor noted none of the umpires witnessed Bant striking Batten. But his arguments were to no avail as the panel found in favour of Batten.