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The NRL world was divided over Rabbitohs forward Tom Burgess dramatic send-off in extra time in South Sydney's golden point loss to the Sharks on Saturday night.
Fans watched on in utter disbelief after the Englishman lost his cool and clobbered sharks back Ronaldo Mulitao across the head, which started an all-in scuffle with just three minutes left in the second-half of extra time.
'DUMB MOMENT': Nathan Cleary's staggering act after 'horrific' tackle
Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes ended up converting a field goal after the Burgess penalty gave the Sharks prime field position to set-up a straight forward drop goal.
Burgess' swinging arm taking out Mulitao looked ugly with players running in from all angles to square-off with the Englishman.
Gerard Sutton didn't hesitate to send Burgess off, becoming the second player this weekend to be sent straight-off after Nathan Cleary was given his marching orders in Penrith's loss to the Eels on Friday night.
“High tackle Burgess, it’s a big problem, it’s on halfway,” Dan Ginnane said on Fox League.
“No matter what it’s a penalty to Cronulla, but what is the aftermath.
“Ooft, a bit of force in that from Burgess. The players from Cronulla have just seen a replay and that’s got them bubbling again."
However, on replay, Fox Sports commentator Steve 'Blocker' Roach took a slightly old-school approach and deemed Burgess may have been unlucky to have been marched.
“He was just trying to do something for his team, a bit over the top but I don’t think he hit him in the head actually, it slid up,” Roach said.
While some agreed with Roach, many in the NRL world couldn't believe the recklessness of the high-tackle and had no problem with the send-off.
Talk about costing your side the game. What dumb play from Tom Burgess. Should be suspened for the rest of the season for stupidy. #NRLSharksSouths
— Aaron Bushby (@abushby89) July 30, 2022
— state of oranges (@bushfootycoach) July 30, 2022
The Burgess send off decision didn't cost Souths the game because it was worthy of a penalty but that's the worst send off I've ever seen. Slipped up and got him a tad high but I'd be surprised if he got a week for that.
— Jo (@SmokinJo21) July 30, 2022
— NEIL EVANS (@NeilEvansmail) July 30, 2022
— James Gould (@thenamesgould) July 30, 2022
Tom burgess, both players balanced, no side step. Stiff arm to the head. No worse than Daniel Topou’s earlier this year. Carry on
— Steve (@thesteveempire) July 30, 2022
Wow Tom burgess just went from potential hero to absolute zero there and lost south’s the game 🤯 what a game!!!
— Andy Smith (@andysmit69) July 30, 2022
South Sydney rue missed chances against Sharks
While Burgess' penalty cost the Rabbitohs the match, South Sydney did have a number of looks on goal with Latrell Mitchell missing three drop kicks to win the match.
South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou didn't want to discuss Burgess' shot on Mulitalo but said that Mitchell was stinging after his opportunities to extend the Rabbitohs' four-game winning run.
"Tommy was coming across and trying to make a tackle, I can't really comment because I didn't see the replay either," Demetriou said.
"Latrell's dirty, that's a moment he nails a lot of the time but it's not on him. There's 80 minutes of footy that went before we got to that point."
Demetriou may also come to regret the decision to move Mitchell to the centres after Jed Cartwright went down with a hamstring injury and he opted to shuffle Kodi Nikorima into fullback.
The loss is also costly for Souths' hopes of a top-four spot given they face the Warriors, Parramatta, Penrith, North Queensland and the Sydney Roosters over the remaining five rounds.
The victory makes Cronulla's record at Shark Park 7-1 and they are only in third spot because of second-placed North Queensland's superior points differential.
With a comfortable run before the finals Fitzgibbon's men will be confident they can finish second and secure a home semi-final after seeing off Melbourne, the Cowboys and Souths over July.
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