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Cripps, Kelly banned, Heppell to Suns? Hurn to earn one more year at Eagles

Carlton captain Patrick Cripps will miss the Blues’ crucial final two regular-season games after failing to overturn his rough conduct charge at the tribunal.

The Blues were desperate to have their star midfielder available for season-defining matches against Melbourne and Collingwood.

But the tribunal upheld Cripps’ two-match ban for bumping Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee, with his bump leaving the Lion concussed.

The match review officer graded the incident as careless, high impact and high contact.

“In a different era that would not have resulted in a report, but in the current era under the current rules and guidelines, this issue is not straightforward,” AFL chairman Jeff Gleeson said.

“(Cripps) entered the contest at speed, he saw a player at least in his peripheral vision and leapt into the contest.

“Cripps could, and should, have contested the ball differently and in a way that did not present such a high and serious risk to his fellow player.”

Cripps earlier said he wanted to take possession, rather than cause damage to Ah Chee.

“No way I can contest that ball without a collision being there,” the Blues midfielder told the tribunal.

“In the heat of battle when the ball’s there to be won, I’m going to try and take possession of the ball.”

Fellow Carlton star Sam Walsh, an emerging leader, expected fullback Jacob Weitering to fill-in as captain for Cripps when speaking earlier on Tuesday.

Currently seventh on the ladder with a 12-8 record, the Blues will need to win one of the two matches to secure the club’s first finals spot since 2013.

Carlton could still sneak into the top-eight if they lose to both the Demons and the Magpies, but would have to rely on St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs stumbling.

Meanwhile, West Coast midfielder Tim Kelly will miss Saturday night’s western derby against Fremantle after failing to overturn his one-game ban at the tribunal.

Kelly was charged by the match review officer for a dangerous tackle on Adelaide youngster Sam Berry in the Eagles’ loss at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

Berry was unhurt in the incident but the tackle was still graded as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.

The Eagles (2-18) will already be without retired forward Josh Kennedy, who booted eight goals in his farewell match last Sunday.

West Coast remain a chance to secure just the second wooden spoon in their proud history, sitting in 17th on the ladder above North Melbourne on percentage only.

Suns on Heppell’s horizon?

Bombers captain Dyson Heppell could be heading off in the sunset to the Gold Coast after failing to agree to terms on a new deal at Essendon.

The 30-year-old club stalwart has been offered a one-year deal but he is seeking a longer contract of two years as a player with another couple in a coaching role.

According to a report in The Age, the Suns do not have a lot of money left in their salary cap but if forward Izak Rankine is lured to Adelaide by a substantial Crows offer, they could land Heppell without having to worry about a trade.

Heppell is coming to the end of his 12th season at the Bombers and it would be strange to see him in another guernsey.

Shannon Hurn of the Eagles

Shannon Hurn (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Hurn set to earn one more year at Eagles

West Coast defender Tom Barrass believes extending the AFL career of veteran Shannon Hurn will play a vital role in developing the club’s generation next.

The Eagles waved goodbye to champion forward Josh Kennedy on Sunday and big calls will now need to be made on the club’s other ageing stars.

Captain Luke Shuey, ruckman Nic Naitanui, forward Willie Rioli and Hurn are all out of contract.

Hurn turns 35 next month and looked to be in the most danger of being cut as the club embarks on a rebuild.

But the former skipper’s stunning form this season, in which he has averaged 22 disposals and 7.5 marks per game, means he is now expected to earn a one-year extension.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson says he will sit down with Hurn at the end of the season to talk about the future, but Barrass is keen to see his teammate play on.

“He’s super important, he’s the bar, and he’s a true master of his craft,” Barrass said on Tuesday. 

“I couldn’t speak highly enough of Shannon Hurn and I think it’s really important to have someone like him around the footy club over this next period of time.”

It remains to be seen how West Coast rebound from Kennedy’s emotional send-off last week and they’ll start as huge underdogs in Saturday night’s western derby against Fremantle.

The sixth-placed Dockers need to win in order to keep their top-four hopes alive, but they’ll be without forward Matt Taberner who will miss at least two weeks with a calf injury.

Small forward Sam Switkowski is a chance to return from a back injury.

Fremantle received a boost on Tuesday when defender Heath Chapman signed for a further three years, tying him to the club until the end of 2027.

Chapman has become a key cog in Fremantle’s backline this season, with his spoil on the line in round one against Adelaide helping the Dockers hold on for a one-point victory.

“Fremantle are in a really good spot,” Chapman said in a statement. “There’s some very exciting times to look forward to but we’re focused on the now and will finish off the rest of the season strong.”

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