NRL head of football Graham Annesley has lamented a '"disappointing" lack of discipline from South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters during the arch-rivals' elimination final and has backed the referees who tried to police the game.
Referee Ashley Klein blew seven sin-bins in the Rabbitohs' 30-14 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
Three were for high tackles, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was binned for a head slam, his fellow Rooster Victor Radley for punching and engaging in a melee, and Rabbitoh Junior Tatola for the head contact which sparked an all-in brawl.
Waerea-Hargreaves and Souths' Thomas Burgess are facing suspensions for their sin bin offences, while Burgess and teammate Taane Milne have been fined.
"I don't think it's necessarily what we want to see in our game," Annesley told reporters.
"The game has worked very hard over a long period of time, going back decades, to eliminate foul play from our game and player misconduct.
"Yesterday, the players overstepped the mark on a number of occasions.
"We've got a responsibility as a game to the entire community. Some of those (sin-binning) occasions were not an acceptable way to play the game."
Annesley said the NRL felt Klein and the referees had been justified in handing out a record number of sin-bins.
"There was a lack of discipline by the players," he said.
"That's not in the hands of the match officials, that's in the hands of the players and how they approach the game.
"Yesterday, we saw a whole range of incidents that took place where the players frankly took those decisions out of the hands of the referees and the bunker.
"It was disappointing that we saw as many incidents in the game as we did."
Radley's punch on Milne was detected by the bunker in the fourth minute and set the tone in regards to both the brutality of the game and the repeated intervention from the off-field referees.
The clash was marked by stoppages so the bunker could review footage but Annesley said he was comfortable with the level of bunker involvement in the game.
"We have to try and find a happy medium where we're doing everything we can to minimise officiating errors while still maintaining the flow and the entertainment value of the game," he said.
"But we can't lose sight of the fact that yesterday was very unusual. I've not seen a game like it in recent history."
While Annesley did not believe this year's finals would again feature such a chaotic game, he called on players to exercise self-control.
"It was a very intense, physical game, there was a lot of emotion and all of that is fine," he said.
"But players know where that line in the sand is.
"Yesterday, on multiple occasions, they crossed that line."