Australia

AFL star’s cheap shot should be punished

St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt has called on the AFL player fraternity to come together and agree to stamp out the type of cheap shots to opponent’s heads Tom Lynch delivered to Alex Witherden.

After tackling the Lions defender as he attempted to kick the ball out of defence in Tuesday night’s game, Lynch delivered an exclamation point to the back of Witherden’s dome.

It was a forceful blow with an open hand to a player laying flat on his stomach that couldn’t see it coming and should see the Richmond spearhead draw the attention of the AFL’s match review officer.

Garry Lyon attempted to play it down in commentary, saying “I thought that was a little rabbity but there’s nothing in that, that’s just a reminder you’ve got to get rid of the ball quicker than that, son”.

But Riewoldt, while not calling for a suspension, said the action needed to be rubbed out of footy.

“I think it’s got to be down to the players as a fraternity to come together and get rid of that stuff that’s crept in,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy.

“I don’t think it does anyone any favours. It doesn’t look good for Tom Lynch, it doesn’t look good for the game.”

Fox Footy reporter Tom Morris said Lynch “probably gets a week for this” labelling the blow intentional and high contact but low impact.

Fellow footy journo Mark Gottlieb declared “it’s a rubbish look”. “Pretty piss-weak from a gun player,” he tweeted.

But Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was thrilled with his key forward’s form as he kicked three goals in the 41-point win.

Hardwick said Lynch was at this best when he played with an edge. “It is when he plays his best footy when he is physical,” he said.

“It is funny for a guy who is so nice off the field he is quite aggressive and that was probably the first thing I realised when I first saw him play.

“The way he hits the ball, the way he hits the contest … he has his mojo back which is great.”

The Lions were made to rue wasteful kicking in front of goal in the 12.10 (82) to 4.17 (41) defeat which saw the Tigers draw within half a game of the Lions in third spot.

None was worse than Sam Skinner’s attempted dribble kick from 15m out straight in front that he slid wide.

“It is sort of embarrassing that I have to answer this question because you guys will assess it and go well there is something going wrong,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said of his team’s goal kicking.

“We practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice I can tell you that right now.

“At training we kick quite accurately and we try to do it when they are fatigued and all those sort of things you do.

“We follow all the basics of good goal kicking practice, but it didn’t show... it seems to happen against Richmond.”

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