A FOOTBALLER who broke an opposition player's jaw during a suburban match has narrowly escaped jail.

Scott Gary Hines from Queensland Australian rules club Sandgate Hawks was yesterday sentenced to 18 months prison, wholly suspended, after pleading guilty in Southport District Court yesterday to causing grievous bodily harm.

The incident happened during a match between the Hawks and the Palm Beach Currumbin Lions, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports.

The legal action that followed stunned the Aussie rules community which has long regarded fierce body clashes and biff as part of the game's culture.

Hines, now 27, punched PBC's James Hodge in the face as he ran past during the third quarter of a May 8, 2010 match at Salk Oval at Palm Beach.

The behind-play punch came as Hodge, 29, was getting up after a failed marking attempt. He was hit in the right side of the face and knocked unconscious.

The court was told Hodge hit the ground, fracturing his jaw and loosening several teeth. He was rushed to The Tweed Hospital where three titanium plates and screws were inserted to realign his jaw.

Judge Brad Farr said during sentencing the assault was not street violence but was unacceptable even during a football match.

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