Aviva Premiership
Hala'Ufia wins five-match ban appeal
ESPN Staff
December 7, 2012
London Irish No.8 Chris Hala'ufia storms forward, Northampton Saints v London Irish, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, September 17, 2011
London Irish No.8 Chris Hala'Ufia is free to play again after overturning a five-match ban © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Matt Banahan | Chris Hala'ufia | Lee Mears
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

London Irish forward Chris Hala'Ufia is free to play in the Exiles' Amlin Challenge Cup clash with Gloucester on Saturday after he won his appeal against a five-week ban for a tip tackle.

The Tongan was red carded by referee JP Doyle for a tip tackle during last weekend's Aviva Premiership defeat against London Welsh and handed his five-match ban on Tuesday. He immediately appealed the decision though and was cleared by disciplinary officer Gareth Rees QC on Friday.

"My feelings immediately after the game was that it was perfectly-executed well-timed tackle and I'm glad to say the video evidence suggests that," London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"Frustratingly that contest was impacted by the red card in the match," added Smith. "I'm not saying that's why we lost the match but it certainly changed the fabric of the game. You're scrumming eight against seven and they clearly won penalties and kicked goals. It changed what we could do because our whole attacking game and defensive structure is set around 15 blokes being on the pitch for 80 minutes. We weren't just hindered for a short time it was pretty much the entire match. It is disappointing."

Bath players Matt Banahan and Lee Mears meanwhile had the appeals against their respective suspensions dismissed on Thursday.

Banahan received a three-week ban on Tuesday after he was sent off for a dangerous tackle during last weekend's Aviva Premiership clash against Leicester. Mears was cited for punching in the same game and landed a two-week suspension.

Both appeals were heard by Gareth Rees QC, the Rugby Football Union announced, with centre Banahan remaining sidelined until December 24 and hooker Mears being able to return seven days earlier.

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