Club in fight to overturn red card

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 March, 2004, 12:00am

Hong Kong Football Club will fight tooth and nail to get fullback Warrick Dent exonerated of the charges of foul play that saw him receive a red card in the dying stages of a thrilling encounter against Synovate Aberdeen on Saturday night.

Club will bid to overturn the red card which Dent got on the grounds of 'mistaken identity'. They say the fullback was wrongly identified and paid the ultimate price of being sent off. It is believed that Club will have their lawyers present when his case is brought up before the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's judicial committee meeting tomorrow night.

The fight to clear Dent's name takes on added importance because Club are down to meet arch-rivals Asahi Valley in the semi-finals of the Grand Championship this Saturday. They want Dent, a fast and attacking fullback, in the fold to meet the challenge of the defending champions as the competition has reached the knockout phase.

'He is very important to us. We want him with us for the next two games,' Club captain Tom Cameron said last night.

Dent was sent off late in the match against Aberdeen with Club hanging on to a slender 30-26 lead. Referee Paul Haley pulled out the red card after a huge fracas in the middle of the pitch resulting from a late tackle.

'Warrick was not involved at all. He didn't hit anyone. It was totally a case of mistaken identity and we hope we can get the red card over-turned. We really want to try and sort this out as we need him badly for the next couple of games,' said Cameron.

The union's disciplinary panel will meet tomorrow night to decide on the case. By usual practice, a player receiving a red card gets an automatic two-game ban. This could be more depending on the severity of the incident.

'You get an automatic two-game ban but this could be more in case of punching. I know Club are appealing against the red card and that they are unhappy,' said Allan Payne, the union's executive director. Payne could not comment on whether a red card could be over-turned.

There has been no previous case of a red card being over-turned once it has been issued.

But there have been cases where a sentence has been reduced - as happened earlier this season when Club's Paul Dingley had a two game ban successfully reduced to one.

But even such a scenario wouldn't help Club this time as they need Dent badly against Valley. 'We are missing a large number of players through injury and we can't afford to lose any more players,'' said Cameron.

In the other semi-final on Saturday, League champions DeA Tigers will take on Descartes Kowloon. Kowloon were comprehensively beaten by Valley who scored half a dozen tries in a 38-19 victory. But Kowloon have another bite at the cherry.