Sport AFL AFL Finals 2017: Richmond, Adelaide stars sweat on crucial MRP rulings
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AFL Finals 2017: Richmond, Adelaide stars sweat on crucial MRP rulings

Trent Cotchin and Dylan Shiel
Trent Cotchin and Dylan Shiel collide, forcing the Giants star off with concussion. Photo: Channel 7
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Barry Hall admits he shouldn’t have played and Andrew Dunkley says the best week of his life turned into one of the worst.

Nine years apart, the two Sydney players went through two of the biggest cases in tribunal history before they were cleared for the AFL grand final.

The match review panel now has some massive calls to make ahead of Saturday’s premiership decider between Adelaide and Richmond.

There is no doubt that if any Crows or Tigers are hit with suspensions in Monday’s findings, they will appear at the tribunal on Tuesday.

And if the tribunal rules against them, then their clubs will look hard at appealing.

Trent Cotchin is in trouble for his clash with GWS opponent Dylan Shiel in the first quarter of Saturday’s MCG preliminary final.

Cotchin also has two fines against him this season, meaning any charge will mean an automatic suspension.

Adelaide vice-captain Rory Sloane and Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield had a massive collision on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.

The MRP is also certain to look at that incident, while Richmond utility Brandon Ellis will come under scrutiny for his bump on Lachie Whitfield.

The tribunal stakes and pressure are never higher than in grand final week, as Dunkley and Hall discovered to their discomfort.

Dunkley was charged with striking Essendon captain James Hird after their 1996 preliminary final.

He was booked on video evidence, then in its infancy.

This was well before the current tribunal system and the Swans went to the Supreme Court.

They were granted an injunction on the grounds that the charge was laid too late in grand final week.

But Dunkley had a poor game, the Swans lost the grand final to North Melbourne and he later was suspended for three matches.

“It should have been the best week of my life,” Dunkley later said.

“Instead, it was one of the worst.”

In 2005, Hall pleaded guilty to striking St Kilda defender Matt McGuire.

But his advocate Terry Forrest QC, now a Supreme Court judge, superbly exploited a loophole in the AFL tribunal rules.

Forrest successfully argued that the incident was in play, not behind play, and turned a suspension into a reprimand.

That Saturday, Hall captained Sydney to their drought-breaking premiership.

“I had a good QC,” Hall said earlier this year when he was inducted into the AFL Hall Of Fame.

“I hit a guy. I shouldn’t have played the grand final.”

The last player to miss a grand final through suspension was Collingwood key forward Anthony Rocca in 2003.

Collingwood failed in their appeal against his two-match striking ban and Rocca looked on as Brisbane beat the Magpies easily for their third straight premiership.

-AAP