North’s Ziebell cleared, Blues duo fined

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be first: Tom Hawkins must be scratching his head after Carlton’s Curnow brothers escaped with fines for making contact with an AFL umpire.

Charlie then Ed were fined $1000 by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night, with North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell cleared of kneeing in the last case heard.

The Geelong spearhead’s case was the first of four charges of making intentional contact with an umpire referred to the AFL tribunal over the past week.

He was the only one to receive a ban.

The Curnow boys made almost identical cases to the tribunal and received the same result: not guilty of intentional contact but guilty of careless contact.

It followed Monday night’s hearing where Gold Coast co-captain Steven May was also fined $1000 after successfully arguing his contact was careless.

Hawkins took a one-game ban in a plea bargain-style deal after he was threatened with a two-match suspension for touching an umpire during the Cats’ round seven win over GWS.

Marcus Clarke QC, representing the Blues brothers, twice showed a video example of West Coast’s Dom Sheed making contact with an umpire.

Charlie touched umpire Matt Stevic and Ed umpire Nathan Williamson during Carlton’s drought-breaking win over Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.

In similar statements submitted into evidence, both umpires said they didn’t say anything at the time contact was made, neither felt threatened or had any issues with what had occurred.

Both hearings took less than 30 minutes, the jury of Stewart Loewe, Jason Johnson and Wayne Henwood taking four and 12 minutes respectively to come to their conclusions.

“I’d just like to say that we both highly respect umpires and their position in the game as officiators and their importance to the game at all levels,” Ed Curnow said as he left the hearing.

“We both understand the tribunal’s decision and we respect the process involved.”

The pair are free to play Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday following the verdict.

AFL match review officer Michael Christian offered Ziebell a one-game ban for kneeing Richmond’s Reece Conca in the first quarter of the Tigers’ hard-fought 10-point at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The incident was graded as intentional conduct with low impact to the head.

Rob O’Neill, representing the Kangaroos, argued it was an accident and also that the impact wasn’t forceful enough to warrant a charge.

In his evidence, Ziebell said that his intention was to wrench the ball from Conca’s grip.

The Tigers midfielder maintained his hold on the ball and Ziebell lifted him off the ground then over-balanced due to Conca’s weight.

The jury found the impact wasn’t enough to even be graded as low after deliberating for less than five minutes.

“It’s a good result,” Ziebell said.

“Obviously I didn’t do it on purpose, it wasn’t intentional, so I’m glad that the tribunal saw that.

“I’m free to play this weekend, which is good.”

North host the Giants at Blundstone Arena in Hobart on Saturday.

Australian Associated Press