Bristol Bears' George Smith avoids punishment after Saracens red card
By Joe Tanner
Last Updated: 12/09/18 11:55am
Bristol Bears flanker George Smith has avoided punishment after being sent off for a dangerous tackle against Saracens in Sunday's Gallagher Premiership clash.
A tackle from the former Australia captain saw his shoulder strike Saracens back row Jackson Wray in the head during a 44-23 defeat for Bristol at Allianz Park.
Smith was sent off but avoided any further action after appearing before an independent disciplinary panel to contest the decision on Tuesday.
Panel chair, Gareth Graham, said: "The panel heard evidence from Wray who said that he could not remember whether there was direct contact with his chin; he said that this was a big collision which was well-timed.
"The panel concluded on the balance of probabilities that the initial contact did not involve any direct contact to the head of Jackson Wray.
"Wray was off-balance in the tackle and the force of the tackle and the effect of the ball being between the two players caused Wray's head to 'whip' backwards", he added.
Smith, 38, who was brought in during the summer after signing a six-month contract at Ashton Gate, was set for a minimum of two weeks on the sidelines after the dismissal.
The Wallabies veteran, who earned 111 caps for the national side, has started in Bristol's opening two games of the campaign, including the 17-10 season opener against Bath Rugby.
Bristol head coach Pat Lam is targeting a Champions Cup spot this season and Smith's experience will be key to those ambitions.
Smith is now available for selection for the Bears' clash against Gloucester Rugby on Friday night at Kingsholm.