South Sydney’s preparations for the finals have been rattled by a one-match suspension dished out to halfback Adam Reynolds – and it would be easy to understand the club’s frustration at virtually being forced to accept the early guilty plea.
The ban, which rules the No.7 linchpin out of Thursday’s blockbuster against the Sydney Roosters, would also be easier to stomach if far more dangerous offences had not resulted in a slap on the wrist with a feather.
Have a look at Adam Reynolds’ fateful tackle below from around the 1:50 mark:
Penalty-worthy, sure, and slightly dangerous when taking the NRL’s much-needed crackdown on lifting tackles into account.
Now compare it to Josh Reynolds’ terrifying tackle on Brent Tate in the State of Origin series opener, which the judiciary deemed not worthy of the Bulldogs five-eighth missing any football at all.
He successfully had this ugly throw downgraded to a Grade 1 charge:
If precedent was as meaningful at the NRL judiciary as it is in a court of law, most players would get off their dangerous throw charges scot-free by reminding the panel of Josh Reynolds’ disturbing tackle, which is as hazardous as anything we’ve seen this season.
While harsh and seemingly pedantic judiciary crackdowns can be maddening for clubs, players and fans – that Sam Rapira even had a case to answer for a crusher tackle (he will play this weekend with an early guilty plea) is a joke – all we can ask for is consistency.
But in 2014, getting a consistent run of outcomes from the match review committee and the judiciary is about as likely as getting the same from the premiership’s video referees.
Will a player miss a Grand Final for making a tackle like Adam Reynolds’ in a preliminary final? Or will a player be allowed to line up in the decider after a dangerous throw like Josh Reynolds’? Neither would surprise. The NRL has, once again, opened itself up to a potential firestorm because its decisions range from over-the-top harsh to ridiculously soft from week to week.
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