Patrick Dangerfield has been waiting his whole career to finally reach an AFL Grand Final and he wasted no time making an immediate impact.
The Geelong star flattened Richmond’s Nick Vlastuin in a chaotic opening to the first quarter that also saw Cats veteran Gary Ablett leave the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury.
Dangerfield and Vlastuin were going for a contested ball and the Cat got there first, punching the Sherrin away as his opponent bore down on him.
But bracing for contact with the Tigers defender, Dangerfield cocked his elbow and collected Vlastuin in the head.
Vlastuin was knocked out cold and the game was stopped for nearly eight minutes while medical staff attended to him. He remained motionless on the ground before eventually being put on a stretcher, then taken off the ground on a medicab.
The 26-year-old was quickly ruled out of the Grand Final and later made his way to the bench to watch the remainder of the action from the boundary line.
Some said Dangerfield’s blow was accidental and a reflex reaction as he headed for a big collision with Vlastuin, but others weren’t showing the midfield gun the same sympathy.
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Sports writer Sam Vecenie tweeted: “That was UGLY from Dangerfield. He’s going to be out a couple rounds to start next season.”
Daniel Joyce said on Twitter Dangerfield is “dirty” while another sports writer, Tim Barrow, took aim at the Channel 7 commentators for defending Geelong’s superstar.
“Um, quite clearly Dangerfield should be suspended. Not that he’ll care if he wins a flag. The commentary is just awful,” Barrow wrote.
Former football reporter Ray Gatt chimed in, adding: “Just saw the elbow. Surely that guy gets cited and suspended for six weeks?”
After another heavy hit later in the first half, journalist Wendy Carlisle noted: “That’s two elbows form Dangerfield.”
Steve Taylor gave him the moniker “Patrick ‘elbows’ Dangerfield” while Peter Brown said “the elbow could be a match winner” as Richmond’s defence struggled to gel in Vlastuin absence.
Dangerfield failed to have a major impact though as Richmond won a third flag in four years. Dustin Martin was unstoppable as he led the Tigers to a 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) victory.
Originally published as Backlash over ‘dirty’ Grand Final moment