Conor Haswell will miss Saturday’s elimination final but could return the following weekend if Newcastle City progress any further in the play-offs after copping a three-match suspended sentence at the Black Diamond AFL judiciary.
The prior good record of the representative player was taken into account at a hearing in Morisset on Thursday night as the disciplinary panel downgraded his initial charge.
Haswell will serve one game on the sidelines, City’s encounter with Killarney Vale at Maitland on Saturday, while the other two fixtures of his punishment only apply if the utility reoffends before the end of 2020.
He was initially facing a four-match ban, but on Tuesday opted to contest the charge and not take the early guilty plea.
The original classification of the tackle was lessened from intentional to careless, but high contact and high impact remained.
Haswell received a yellow card and spent 15 minutes in the sin-bin on Saturday following an incident from the opening bounce of City’s last-round loss to minor premiers Terrigal Avoca at No.1 Sportsground.
Terrigal Avoca’s Jack Grimmond was left unconscious and was stretchered off the ground following the collision, but after going to hospital was later cleared of any major damage.
After finishing first on the ladder for the fifth time in six seasons, Terrigal Avoca have this weekend off and enter the new-look, top-seven finals series next Saturday against the lowest-ranked winner of the upcoming elimination semis.
Third-placed City are down Haswell for the battle with Killarney Vale but welcome back NSW under-17 representatives Reed van Huisstede and Aidan Watling, who played at Princess Park in Melbourne on Sunday, as well as former Edgeworth soccer goalkeeper Jim Fogarty, who returns from injury.
Fifth-placed Warners Bay return to finals for the first time since 2015 and travel to Muswellbrook on Saturday to meet Singleton, who were one of five teams promoted to the top league this year.
Second-placed Cardiff are away to Wyong Lakes on Sunday.
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