Fremantle's morale-boosting start to the season has continued with confirmation captain Matthew Pavlich has escaped suspension, although renowned antagonist Hayden Ballantyne is facing a one-match ban.
Pavlich was reported at the weekend for charging West Coast's Will Schofield. The report was later thrown out, with the match review panel deeming contact had occurred after Pavlich had jumped in an attempt to mark the ball.
Any penalty would have ensured a suspension for Pavlich as he has 93.75 carry-over points from an incident last season. It also threatened his Brownlow Medal eligibility.
The Dockers' relief at the exoneration of Pavlich was partly offset by the ban offered to Ballantyne, for an off-the-ball clash with the Eagles' Scott Selwood.
The panel's offer of a one-match suspension for the small forward could not be downgraded because of his poor record.
While the rules for bad records are now much more lenient – the minimum threshold is now three matches in the past two years, rather than any matches in the past three – Ballantyne was still punished for being suspended twice last year, for a total of three matches. That inflated his penalty from 125 points by 10 per cent to 137.5, or 103.13 with the guilty-plea discount – just above the suspension threshold.
The weekend incident was the third time Ballantyne has featured in match review panel reports already this season. During the NAB Cup Geelong's Steve Johnson accepted a one-match ban for striking him, while Carlton's Aaron Joseph escaped punishment for contact with the Docker.