Marin-off: Star Crow free to play after marathon hearing

ADELAIDE star Ebony Marinoff has successfully quashed her three-match ban for making forceful front-on contact and will be available for the Crows' season-opener against West Coast on Saturday.

Marinoff's charge was thrown out by the Appeals Board on Thursday night after it was successfully argued the Tribunal had acted unreasonably in finding the dual AFLW All-Australian guilty of careless conduct.

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Greater Western Sydney rookie Brid Stack suffered a stable fracture of the C7 vertebra in a collision with Marinoff during a pre-season practice match, avoiding surgery but requiring a neck brace.  

The incident drew a three-match suspension – the largest in AFLW history – after the Tribunal found Marinoff guilty of careless conduct, high contact and severe impact.

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Representing Marinoff, Sam Abbott QC described the Tribunal's three-match ban as an "aberration of a finding" that was an "affront" to the way the game is played.

The Appeals Board took 40 minutes to deliberate on the appeal and said it would provide written reasons for its finding in due course.

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Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce provided a character request for Marinoff without request, Abbott said, describing her as a player who had played "absolutely and scrupulously fairly" in a club-record 30 AFLW games.

The decision was a major boost for the Crows, with Marinoff a star of the competition who played every game in 2020 and averaged 23.2 disposals and 7.8 tackles.

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Launching a marathon three-and-a-half hour hearing, Marinoff's counsel withdrew inconclusive video evidence that had led to the Crow's appeal being adjourned until Thursday afternoon.

Abbott instead used still images to make the new case that Marinoff was contesting the ball and had no realistic alternative, having attempted to stop and brace herself for contact as soon as she saw Stack.

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In a submission that lasted almost two hours, he argued Stack had moved forward with the ball and towards a "stationary" Marinoff, describing the Giants rookie as the "moving party" in the collision.

The case was also made that Marinoff was pushed by Giant Alyce Parker, contributing to the force and potentially causing the contact from Marinoff's midriff to Stack's head.

"Where else could Marinoff go? The answer is nowhere else. She was pinned there. … (and) it was going towards her that caused the contact, not vice versa," Abbott said.

"There is nothing she could have done to avoid that contact. Therefore, the finding of the Board, on the review of the evidence, should be that she had no reasonable alternative."

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A plank of Marinoff's case was that she had given evidence to the Tribunal that she had sought to stop moving forward as soon as she saw Stack.

AFL counsel Nick Pane QC argued it was reasonable for the Tribunal to reject that evidence and find Marinoff guilty based on video evidence alone.

Pane rejected the suggestion a three-week penalty was disproportionate because the nine-match AFLW season was shorter than the men's competition.

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