Joseph Manu act in Roosters-Rabbitohs grudge match leaves NRL fans fuming

The explosive moment left NRL fans seething on Friday night.

Seen left, Joseph Manu's high shot on Isaiah Tass in the NRL.
Joseph Manu's high shot on Isaiah Tass sparked wild scenes between the Roosters and Rabbitohs on Friday night in the NRL. Pic: Fox Sports/Getty

Roosters star Joseph Manu has come under fire from NRL fans after his high shot on Rabbitohs' flyer Isaiah Tass sparked wild scenes late on in Friday night's grudge match at Allianz Stadium. The Roosters trailed for much of the game but finished the stronger of the two, prevailing 20-18 in a match between the two fierce foundation rivals that boiled over towards the end.

Both sides have a history of bad blood and Manu was himself on the receiving end of a high shot from Rabbitohs superstar Latrell Mitchell two years ago, that rubbed him out of the 2021 finals series. On Friday night in Sydney, it was a reckless tackle from Manu that turned into the game's biggest flash point.

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Moments before the incident, Manu had pulled off a sensational try-saving tackle on Tass after chasing down the Bunnies' centre and hitting the ball out of his grasp, metres before the try line. The Roosters centre tried to repeat the trick as Tass stormed towards the line with just over three minutes to go, but got his tackle all wrong.

Manu collected Tass around the head, causing players from both sides to rush in, before a melee broke out. In the ensuing scuffle, Manu wheeled away with a cut under his eye and swelling, before referee Gerard Sutton sent him to the sin bin for 10 minutes as a result of the high tackle.

Sutton also gave South Sydney forward Michael Che Kam ten in the bin for exacerbating the melee as the third man in, despite there already being several players involved before he entered the fray. The incident left fans seething, with many labelling Manu's hit a "cheap shot" and questioning why Chee Kam was also binned when so many other players were involved.

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Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray, who grabbed Manu by the collar and engaged in some push and shove with him after the incident, admitted after the game: “I let my emotions get the better of me." I was just sticking up for my teammate.

"I’ve said it before that I won’t go and start something but I’ll always go and stand up for myself and my teammates," Murray added. Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted that Manu got his second tackle wrong after trying to replicate his earlier try-saving effort on Tass.

“He was trying to make the tackle he made on Tass before and knock it out and he got it wrong,” he said. “And then running in and everything that went on after that is what it is.”

In their first NRL meeting since last September's finals encounter that included a record seven sin-bin offences, the Roosters had to dig deep, overturning a 10-0 deficit to claim a gusty victory. The introduction of veteran prop Waerea-Hargreaves and hooker Brandon Smith, who nearly didn't play on Friday due to an oblique strain, changed the game when Souths were on top.

Pictured far right, Brandon Smith celebrates with Roosters teammates after scoring a try against South Sydney.
Brandon Smith (far right) celebrates with Roosters teammates after scoring a try against South Sydney. Pic: Getty

The 34-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves proved the most industrious forward as he ran for 149 running metres, while Smith's try helped the Roosters claw their way back into the game.

"We had to hold our cool but they changed momentum," Robinson added. "But I feel like we dominated from thereon in, there were opportunities around the ruck for 'Jazz' and Brandon.

"It's 'Jazz's' first game back since a long lay-off - he only got five minutes at the World Cup - and Brandon only just got across the line (to be cleared to play). "It wasn't going to be won in the 20 minutes, but we knew the impact was coming."

with AAP

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