Lennox Head lodge trampling appeal
ROBBED of their captain in the build-up to Saturday's cut-throat semi-final, Lennox Head will appeal against a sentence that would otherwise see star breakaway Harry Witt sidelined for six months.
Witt was found guilty of trampling by the Far North Coast Rugby Union judiciary on Tuesday night and given a penalty that will rule him out of the game until March 1 next year.
If the sentence stands, Witt will miss the minor semi-final against Wollongbar-Alstonville.
It's a major blow in Lennox Head's bid to win back-to-back premierships but club president Barry Kiddle is not about to take the decision lying down.
“The charge itself is inaccurate,” Kiddle said.
“It's not only the severity of it. What we will be saying is that nothing happened that wouldn't have happened ordinarily on a rugby field.
“As far as Harry is concerned, he was involved in a normal ruck where someone got a head injury.”
The 'smoking gun' in Witt's appeal will be the production of fresh evidence, the match video, which the Trojans were unable to obtain in time for Tuesday night's hearing.
“It's our hope that the appeal will see it for what it is and he'll be exonerated,” Kiddle said.
Witt was sent off in Lennox Head's bruising final-round encounter against Lismore City.
And while a six-month sentence might sound a little harsh, FNCRU board member and judiciary spokesman Eoin Johnston described it as a fairly 'lenient' sentence.
“In light of the offence he was found guilty of, it was a lenient sentence and his outstanding record as a rugby player, commitment to the club as captain and on the club's committee, was taken into account,” Johnston said.
“He's allowed to play until March 1, but how much football will he actually miss between now and March 1? Once the offence was proven, he could have faced a maximum penalty of 52 weeks.”
Witt's appeal is expected to be held tonight. If he is not available for the semi-final, his place in the side will be taken by his brother, Joe Witt.
In other news from the judiciary, Lennox Head's Matt Aherne was given a two-week suspended sentence and will be clear to play on Saturday, while Lismore's Craig Jones received a three-week suspended sentence.