Sharks skipper Dale Fincuane and Bulldogs forward Corey Waddell headline Tuesday night at the Judiciary as they learn their fate over separate incidents in Round 19.
Finucane pled not guilty to a Grade 3 dangerous contact charge for a tackle on Panthers center Stephen Crichton but has received a three-game ban.
Waddell has been referred directly to the NRL Judiciary after being charged over an alleged eye-gouge on Titans skipper Tino Fa’asuamaleaui on an ungraded dangerous contact charge.
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Finucane collided with Crichton leaving the Panthers star with a nasty cut to his left ear that required a visit to hospital for plastic surgery.
The Sharks star is facing a three game ban if found guilty by the Judiciary panel.
Waddell could face a lengthy stint on the sidelines if found guilty of eye-gouging, which is considered one of the worst acts on a rugby league field.
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Finucane was up first represented by Nick Ghabar with Patrick Knowles acting as the NRL prosecutor.
The Judiciary panel was shown seven camera angles of Finucane’s tackle on Crichton without commentary or audio.
Ghabar questioned Finucane about the tackle with the Sharks skipper explaining he was trying to apply pressure on an isolated player with his team trailing 14-10 with nine minutes remaining.
Ghabar noted that Crichton dipped as he received the ball.
Finucane said: “I couldn’t have avoided this contact at this point in time. I felt the contact with the left side of my face make contact with the left side of Stephen Crichton’s face and that’s the only contact I felt.
“I didn’t feel any contact with my shoulder and his face.”
Finucane said the head clash was an accident.
“The objective was to limit the amount of meters they could make on the field by getting the player that was isolated,” Finucane said.
“It’s not standard tackling to try and do that and as I said it wasn’t my intention to make head to head contact. But the pivot motion and lowering of the leg by Stephen Crichton led to the collision.
“I wouldn’t change what I did.
“I empathize with what’s happened to Stephen and I’ve spoken to him since. I wouldn’t change the line speed with when I came out of the game. It was completely accidental, head clashes happen in rugby league.”
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Ghabar questioned why Finucane has been charged when head clashes are a part of the game.
“Head clashes are an accepted risk of the game,” he said.
“What is special about this contact that makes it unacceptable as opposed to other head clashes.
“He bends his left leg forward. He can’t get any lower to make an effective tackle. There is nothing in respect that he could have done to avoid the tackle. That’s what he told you.
“You will note that there is no referee incidence report in front of you. The referee saw this as nothing more than the head clash, which is an accepted risk of playing rugby league.
“Every player who goes out on to the field accepts that an accidentally head clash us a rush of playing the game. In my submission the contact here is not illegal.”
Knowles argued the tackle was careless because of the small margin for error.
“The question for you members of the panel is whether or not player Finucane executed the tackle in a careless manner,” he said.
“The tackle was conducted in a careless manner because of the force, because of the fact that the contact was to the head, and because the risk of injury is high.”
Ghabar argued that Crichton’s injury should not affect the decision.
“What you should not do in my respectful submission is look at it retrospectively because of the outcome,” Ghabar said.
“You should not find a player guilty because of the outcome, a laceration to player Crichton’s ear. You should look at the tackle for what it is.”
Justice Geoff Bellew told the former members of the panel, Dallas Johnson and Bob Lindner, the simple question to be answered was “are you satisfied that the player failed to play to the level of care that he is required”.
They unanimously found Finucane guilty resulting in a grade three (three-week) suspension.
However the Sharks sought to have it downgraded to a grade one charge.
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