BRISTOL Bears’ Alapati Leiua has been banned for four weeks for striking Harlequins’ Marcus Smith in a match on February 16.

Leiua appeared before an independent disciplinary panel on Wednesday night.

The Bristol player contested the charge of striking with arm contrary to Law 9.12, but was given a four-week suspension by the panel comprising Gareth Graham (chair), John Doubleday and Nick Dark.  He is free to play again April 2, 2019.

Panel chair Gareth Graham said: “As the player carried the ball into the tackle, he led with his forearm and struck Marcus Smith, the tackler, to the side of the head. The panel accepted the player’s evidence that he had mistimed an attempt to fend off the tackler and had not intended to strike the Harlequins player.

“However, the panel found that by leading with his forearm into the tackle, where the forearm then made contact to the tackler’s head, the player had committed a reckless act of foul play that passed the red card threshold. The panel upheld the citing.

“For an offence of striking with an arm which results in contact with the head, there is a mandatory mid-range entry point of a six-week ban. The panel found that the player had a good disciplinary record and was remorseful and was entitled to a reduction of two-weeks by way of mitigation.”

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