NRL fans fume at ‘ludicrous’ refereeing as Penrith Panthers beat Melbourne Storm

Jasper BruceNCA NewsWire
The rulings on these tackles left pundits fuming. Image: Fox Sports
Camera IconThe rulings on these tackles left pundits fuming. Image: Fox Sports Credit: FOX SPORTS

The NRL’s highly publicised crackdown on dangerous tackles has been one of the major storylines of season 2021 and two separate calls in the Panthers’ preliminary final clash with Melbourne had fans blowing up about a lack of consistency.

Penrith defeated Melbourne in a thrilling encounter that had plenty of drama and will face South Sydney in next week’s Grand Final.

In a bruising and fast-paced first half, Panthers talisman Nathan Cleary found himself on report for what was deemed to be a dangerous tackle on Melbourne’s Kenny Bromwich.

Watch every 2021 NRL Telstra Finals Series match before Grand Final. Live & Ad-Break Free on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial >

Cleary and Panthers centre Paul Momorovski teamed up to contain the Storm second-rower, but lost their balance, forcing Bromwich to the turf at an awkward angle.

On closer inspection, though, Bromwich appeared not to have been dropped on his head at all. Per the NRL’s Laws and Interpretations, tackles require “the head or neck of the attacking player make forceful contact with the ground” to be considered dangerous and worthy of a penalty.

Cleary risks missing the Grand Final, should the match review committee choose to charge him.

In his post-match press conference, coach Ivan Cleary was confident his son would be cleared to play.

The rulings on these tackles left pundits fuming. Image: Fox Sports
Camera IconThe rulings on these tackles left pundits fuming. Image: Fox Sports Credit: FOX SPORTS

Shortly afterwards, Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster appeared to get away with a clear high tackle.

Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai was left seeing stars when his head was collected by Munster’s shoulder.

Cleary was in disbelief that his halves partner could be forced from the field for a head injury assessment (HIA) without a penalty being paid.

“He hit him in the head. He’s gone off and we’ve lost a player. He just hit him in the back of the head,” Cleary told referee Gerard Sutton.

There didn’t seem to be malice in the tackle, but punters were quick to point out that similar hits have been penalised this season.

“It should have been a penalty,” Fox League’s Braith Anasta agreed.

“Luai just backs in and Munster who, and the tackle wasn’t intentional, hits him with a high shot.

“That’s a penalty every day of the week.

“He has to go off the field there Luai. It’s a contentious one. I think they got it wrong, certainly a penalty at the very least there to Penrith.”

It didn’t matter in the end for the Panthers, who escaped with a 10-6 victory.

Originally published as NRL fans fume at ‘ludicrous’ refereeing as Penrith Panthers beat Melbourne Storm

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails