Brisbane Broncos fans have come under fire after a chorus of boos rang out at Suncorp Stadium as Canberra Raiders star Jordan Rapana was being stretchered from the field. Rapana had played a starring role in Canberra's 20-14 upset over the Broncos, but was left with blood streaming from his head after copping an accidental knee to the head from Brisbane's Martin Taupau in the 77th minute.
Taupau's hit was roundly described as unintentional, but upon review it cost the Broncos a penalty, as the contact was deemed to be careless by the NRL bunker. It proved to be a costly decision, with Rapana having made a crucial error moments earlier that had handed Brisbane the ball in scoring position.
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Meanwhile, Rapana was being attended to by Canberra trainers, blood pouring from the wound on his head. Boos were heard throughout the stadium as he was taken from the ground, leading some Raiders fans to believe the home fans were booing the injured star, who had scored two tries in the game.
Many Broncos fans rejected that suggestion on social media, given the bunker decision to hand the Broncos a penalty came roughly at the same time he was being stretchered off the ground. A bitter debate clouded what was otherwise one of the games of the season so far.
The penalty was the subject of much debate as well, however Fox League's Cooper Cronk said that while it was clearly unintentional from Taupau, the was little choice for the officials. He pointed out that players simply needed to be more careful, acknowledging it was easier said than done at times.
“I actually agree with it, yes it was a complete accident, yes there was time to pull out of it, but the way the game is played nowadays, there needs to be care from the player inflicting the injury,” Cronk said. “Whether it is a high shot or anything else, completely accidental, worrying concerns for Jordan Rapana but I agree with the penalty because a player was put in a dangerous position."
Broncos fans booing Rapana as he’s driven off the field with blood gushing from his head and staining the field behind him is absolutely disgusting! #NRLBroncosRaiders
Broncos fans who booed showed their character and found it sincerely lacking. They should be ashamed!
— Callie (@sparkles436) April 8, 2023
Disappointing to hear Broncos' fans booing Jordan Rapana as he was being carried from the field. Putting the debate about the penalty to one side it was clear he was badly injured and was entitled to some respect.
— Ian Maurice (@ian_maurice) April 8, 2023
Broncos fans booing rapana off the field is absolutely disgusting.
— Jason🥛 (@Jason_Adam639) April 8, 2023
I was at the game mate, we were booing the ref not Rapana 🙄 you sound like the arrogant one buddy
— Leandra (@Leandraismyname) April 8, 2023
No one was booing Rapana. Ref’s decision to penalise and report Topau was awful, MRC will throw it out
— The James Dean of 3065 (@LukaDayLee3) April 8, 2023
Raiders bounce back to upset ladder leaders Brisbane
The Raiders, wounded by their 53-12 thrashing at the hands of Penrith the previous round, were keen to make amends from the jump. Despite missing Jack Wighton through suspension and prop Joe Tapine, whose first child was due, the Raiders outmuscled the Broncos in a powerhouse first half.
Corey Horsburgh was relentless and the impetus for much of their good work. His jersey was torn to shreds at half-time when he left the field, symbolic of the way he tore into the Broncos.
It was a brutal game marked by a number of heavy collisions, with Broncos prop Tom Flegler copping an accidental elbow in the head and suffered a category one HIA. Kurt Capewell and Josh Papalii both underwent HIAs and returned, while Payne Haas skittled Raiders forward Pasami Saulo, who left the field clutching his shoulder but came back.
Stuart had warned players of a tough week after their humiliating loss to Penrith, and combined with the inspirational return of Jarrod Croker, rose to the occasion. Croker said the team had been determined to show their 'character', particularly in the absence of several key players.
“We all copped a lot of criticism after last week and the start of the season, so my focus wasn’t on not missing tackles," he said after landing 14 tackles without a miss and winning his battle against counterpart Kotoni Staggs. “I just wanted to show up for my mates for 80 minutes and luckily every one of us did that and we got the result.
“It was pretty intense not going to lie, it was pretty physical, but we had to, last week wasn’t up to standards… but tonight was all about character.”
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