The Melbourne Rebels late-season push for a Super Rugby Pacific finals berth has taken a hit with loose forward Josh Kemeny suspended for three weeks for a late and high shot on Brumbies centre Len Ikitau.
The hit, in the 29th minute of their 33-26 loss on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park, initially went unnoticed by the referee.
During the match review, SANZAAR’s citing commissioner said the “incident had met the red card threshold”, and Kemeny should have been sent off.
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Review committee chair Michael Heron acknowledged Kemeny did attempt to pull out, “but the contact was always high”.
“[The act] was late and dangerous with direct and forceful contact made head-to-head,” he said in his ruling.
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“Whilst the player attempted to pull out of a late tackle, he was always high and there was no applicable mitigation.”
The committee initially recommended a six-week ban, but downgraded it to three on Kemeny’s “clear record, guilty plea and otherwise exemplary conduct”.
First blood to the Rebels as Brumbies defence falls
Kemeny will be unavailable for the Rebels’ next three clashes against the Waratahs, Highlanders and Force, and will return for the final week of the regular season – the opposite fixture against the Brumbies.
The Force are currently languishing in ninth on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder – two points outside the top eight and a finals appearance.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes lock Isaia Walker-Leawere has escaped further punishment for his red card for his two yellow-card offences against the Drua.
Heron said because at least one of Walker-Leawere’s yellows was for a technical offence, rather than foul play, the red card was “sufficient penalty”.
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