'Absolutely disgusting': NRL world divided over 'horrible' send off

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Manly's Karl Lawton (pictured) spear tackles Cameron Murray.
Manly's Karl Lawton (pictured) was sent off in the NRL for this dangerous tackle on the Rabbitohs' Cameron Murray. (Image: Chanel Nine)

The NRL world has been left divided over Manly's Karl Lawton's send off against the Rabbitohs in his team's 40-22 loss on Friday night.

The Manly second-rower was sent packing after uplifting Cameron Murray on his line, before momentum took over and the Rabbitohs captain went head first towards the ground.

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Rabbitohs players reacted with anger as their teammate was left in a heap on the ground.

While Murray was uninjured, his teammates immediately reacted with concern.

Lawton was sent to the sheds, which had Fox Sports commentators Michael Ennis and Greg Alexander agreeing with the decision.

“I thought it was a send-off offence,” Alexander said.

“We have had players get players in positions and this is the tackle that we want to stamp out.

“Players that get a player up in an awkward position don’t go on with it like that."

Karl Lawton spear tackle divides NRL

However, opinion was largely split following the incident, with Phil Gould, Billy Slater and Brad Fittler adamant he should not have been sent off.

Gould immediately called for everyone to 'settle down' after the incident, considering Murray wasn't injured.

“It’s just momentum, this can happen on the spur of the moment... really good charge, good hit," Gould said on Channel Nine.

“It’s just momentum, no-one’s hurt, everyone’s OK. Settle down.

“He doesn’t need a spell.”

He found some backing in NRL great Brad Fittler.

“I’ve got to say what he’s got to do is make sure he applauds Cam Murray. We see a lot of players get in this situation and they’ll drop their head to the ground while Cam Murray looked to protect himself," Fittler added.

“I thought that could have been an awful lot worse and I really can’t believe Lawton is walking past me on the sideline.”

Despite the experts being divided on the incident, fans on social media were quite adamant the spear tackle needed to be stamped out of the game.

Lawton became just the second man in the NRL-era to be sent off for a dangerous throw, joining Canberra's Nick Cotric in 2019.

Cotric was also handed a grade-three charge for his tackle on Tim Lafai, able to take a 25 per cent reduction on his demerit points to miss just three games.

The story may not be so kind for Lawton.

Even if he is handed the same charge level on Saturday, the NRL's new simplified system means he will miss at least four weeks with an early guilty plea.

Karl Lawton (pictured left) looks disappointed as he is sent off after a dangerous tackle.
Karl Lawton (pictured left) is sent off after a dangerous tackle during the round eight NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

There is also a possibility he could be referred straight to the judiciary, making for a ban of five games or more.

"He's devastated, the poor kid," Manly coach Des Hasler said.

"He's such a hard worker and plays the game at that pace. There was certainly no malice in the tackle.

"At the same time, there will be some sort of consequences to face with that tackle.

"Would you send him off or sin-bin him? I thought maybe a decision could have been disputed there.

"Either way, he wasn't going to stay on the field."

with AAP

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