Howe hurting after 8 match ban

THE chances of a rugby league premiership being won by a Kempsey-based team for the first time since 1962 have been dealt a severe blow.

Macleay Valley forward Sam Howe was given an eight-match ban by the Group 2 judiciary after being cited for making contact to the head of Sawtell captain-coach Rohan Loudon.

The incident left Loudon with two fractures in his jaw and the judiciary treated the case as a serious incident.

Howe was said to be shattered after hearing the judiciary's verdict that has ended his season.

Mustangs' president Mike Spalding said he couldn't believe the length of the suspension that was handed down on Tuesday night.

“It's pretty bloody tough, especially for a bloke that has never been sent off and he's been playing since the under-9s,” Spalding said.

“It's not in Sam to do this, he's really a gentle giant of a man.”

Howe argued at the hearing that the swinging arm was misconstrued as a deliberate strike to the head when he was in fact trying to go for the ball. The judiciary didn't agree with Macleay Valley's version of the events and handed down a 10 match ban minus two matches for Howe having a clean judiciary record.

Spalding said that the club is thinking of appealing but doubts that there are any grounds on which it can.

“It's hard without fresh evidence,” he said. “I've seen others commit worse acts on a football field and receive lesser sentences.”

The club president said that captain-coach Willie Lockwood, like all of the playing group, is shattered by the outcome.

“We're all in a bit of shock,” Spalding said.

“Willie is disappointed but said that we sort of have to take it.

“He's been quite philosophical actually and is working on ways around it for the upcoming matches.”

Macleay Valley finishes the regular season on Sunday when they travel to Woolgoolga.

The Mustangs will then face Sawtell in the major preliminary semi-final a week later. Where that match will be played depends on whether the Kempsey club wins or loses this weekend.

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