NRL officials slammed over finals mayhem 'joke': 'Lost the plot'

·7-min read
Seen here, referee Ashley Klein talking to players during Sunday's finals match.
Referee Ashley Klein issued an NRL record seven sin-binnings on Sunday. Pic: Getty

Referee Ashley Klein and the NRL bunker have come under fire after a staggering seven is bins were issued during South Sydney's dramatic elimination final win over the Roosters on Sunday.

Souths won 30-14 in front of a crowd of 39, 816 at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon, ending the Roosters' 2022 premiership hopes in one of the most chaotic games in recent memory.

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As well as the seven sin bins, five players were sent for head injury assessments (HIAs), with three of those players ruled out for the remainder of the contest.

Two players - Victor Radley and Taane Milne - were sent to the bin twice during the wild contest, with fans and commentators insisting that it ruined the spectacle.

Radley's first trip to the bin appeared to be for little more than roughing up his opposition player on the ground.

His second trip came after Radley rushed in to defend a teammate after Tevita Tatola had used his palm to push an opponent's head after drawing an error from a tackle.

Souths prop Prop Tom Burgess was sin-binned for a second high shot in as many minutes, having somewhat ironically escaped going to the bin for the first one that knocked out James Tedesco - the Roosters captain subsequently failing his HIA and not returning for the rest of the match.

Channel Nine commentator Andrew Johns was among those to take exception at the officiating, highlighting Tatola's head shove as one incident that should never have been a sin bin.

" J unior Tatola, I think he pushes someone in the head, nothing in it. If he sin-bins him for this, honestly, it is an absolute farce," Andrew Johns said on Nine's NRL coverage.

"It's laughable, absolutely laughable. Tatola comes in, he just sort of pats him on the head.

"Victor comes in and pushes him because god forbid, if you throw a punch, what a joke."

Pictured here, Victor Radley getting sent to the sin bin in the Roosters' elimination finals loss to the Rabbitohs.
Victor Radley went for two separate trips to the sin bin in the Roosters' elimination finals loss to the Rabbitohs. Pic: Getty

Brad Fittler agreed and suggested the officials should have treated it more like an Origin game, knowing full well how was spice there was likely to be between both teams.

" It was quite obvious early how this game was going to be played and the referees needed to have a cool head about it," Fittler added.

"What Victor did was absolutely nothing ... it was over-aggressive, yes, but a sin bin, no."

Fans were also highly critical of the number of times players were sent to the sin bin, arguing that it detracted from what was otherwise an enthralling contest.

The Rabbitohs will play Cronulla at Allianz next Saturday but could be counting the cost of the spiteful match against their fierce rivals.

Burgess is unlikely to play against the Sharks after an eventful afternoon, having knocked out Tedesco with a high shot after 18 minutes in and then getting sin-binned for a similar shot on Matt Lodge 60 seconds later.

The England international then failed his own head injury assessment when his head was slammed into the ground by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the second half which drew criticism from Souths coach Jason Demetriou.

"We are talking about concussions in the game, but if a player wants to hold somebody who is defenceless and slam his head into the ground - where's the responsibility on the player?" Demetriou said.

"It's an ordinary act and I think the game has to come down hard on it."

Sin bin drama dominates finals clash

Souths winger Milne was sin-binned once in each half - both for high shots - with Tatola also spending 10 minutes on the sidelines.

Souths were down to 11 men in the first half with Burgess and Milne off but were able to take a lead of 12-8 into half-time courtesy of tries from Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell.

"The reality is that when you go down two men the concentration goes up," Demetriou said. "We came up with some pretty big try-saving tackles."

On the other side of the battle, Tedesco's absence was a costly blow although fill-in winger Joseph Suaalii was impressive in the No.1 role.

Their two first-half tryscorers Angus Crichton and Daniel Tupou were ruled out with a concussion and a groin injury respectively at halftime and it didn't help that lock Radley joined Milne in being sin-binned in each half.

The first of the seven sin-bins - a record in the NRL era - was for a meek punch aimed at Milne after just five minutes.

Seen here, Referee Ashley Klein sends a player to the sin bin.
Referee Ashley Klein dished out seven sin bins to five different players in Sunday's NRL elimination final. Pic: Getty

While referee Klein was happy to play on, the bunker intervened to send the combative Roosters No.13 off for a spell on the sideline.

Radley got another spell after an altercation with Tatola while Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to cool off after slamming Burgess into the turf in the second half.

"I thought we descended the game (into chaos) - both teams," said Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

"I thought Ashley and the bunker handled the game as they should but I feel like we - both teams - forced their hands.

"The tone was set then (when Radley was sin-binned) and then the incidents that were going to be sin-bins was set.

"That's an incident that could've been played on from and that was the start of it (the chaos)."

with AAP

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