Leigh Cameron has been suspended for striking.
Leigh Cameron has been suspended for striking.

KIEWA-Sandy Creek will be without veteran key forward Leigh Cameron until the finals after he was suspended for striking by the Tallangatta and District league independent tribunal last night.

Cameron was charged after a probe by Victorian Country Football League independent investigator Enzo Bevacqua with striking Beechworth coach Brenton Surrey during the round 12 clash between the teams on July 5 at Kiewa, which the Hawks went on to win by 73 points.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge, which left Surrey with a fractured eye socket, saying in evidence there was nobody near him and he did not know anybody had been injured.

But the tribunal ruled against the Hawk and outed him for three matches, with a further three matches suspended until the end of next year.

Cameron was represented by AFL advocate Sean Carroll, who travelled from Melbourne for the case.

It was Cameron’s second suspension of the season after he took a one-match set penalty for striking earlier in the year.

Beechworth asked the league to investigate the incident, with the charge of striking laid after a three-week investigation.

Surrey, who was represented by advocate Michael Deuis, has missed the past three matches, but is a chance to return for Beechworth’s clash with Rutherglen at Beechworth this Saturday.

The Bushrangers coach told the tribunal he didn’t know who had hit him, just that he had been struck and had a fractured eye socket.

Cameron will miss Kiewa-Sandy Creek’s last three matches, against Barnawartha, Dederang-Mount Beauty and Tallangatta, but will be eligible to return for the Hawks’ likely second semi-final.

He is averaging just over two goals a game, having booted 28 majors from 12 matches for Kiewa-Sandy Creek this season, including eight against Yackandandah in round 3.

He forms a damaging three-pronged attack alongside spearhead Guy Telford (54) and Jye Shields (29), with the trio combining for 111 goals to lead their team to premiership favouritism.

The Hawks have a stranglehold on the minor premiership with three rounds remaining before the finals, being two games and significant percentage clear of second-placed Mitta United with a 14-1 record.