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.
James Tedesco won’t be back today after failing his HIA. Will enter NRL’s concussion protocols. If Roosters do advance, like Mitch Moses he will require specialist clearance to play within 10 days. Hope he’s OK moving forward pic.twitter.com/a5wKIzinau
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) September 11, 2022
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."
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.
Radley's first Sin Bin was a joke, it set the scene, his 2nd Sin Binning was also a joke, along with the Souths player being sent.
— Poofnuts_in_Oz (@PoofnutsO) September 11, 2022
Games became a joke! On one hand you have May being suspended for 2 weeks next season cause it’s not fair on the fans. Then on the other hand you have 7 sin bins and a over officiated game. #NRL
— Hilton Barbour (@hiltonbarbour) September 11, 2022
You know the NRL has become a joke when there are almost as many sin bins as there are tries.
What horrible officiating, just let the rivals beat the shit out of each other.
— 🌟Starr🌟 (@CaptainStarr0) September 11, 2022
7 sin bins is a joke ……
— 🏉 bulldogs 🏀 warriors ⚽️ Liverpool (@JebrilSadek) September 11, 2022
Lol 7 Sin Bins so far and 6 of them probably shouldn’t of been, wht a joke. #nrlroosterssouths
— Mega (@MegaBadseed) September 11, 2022
I agree he lost the plot. There were a couple sin bins in there but the final Radley and Tatola one was ridiculous. Especially ad there were a bunch more high shots before and after that
— Matt BKR (@mattjbkr) September 11, 2022
— Elle Mills (@devilish_babi) September 11, 2022
— George Iliadis (@Iliadis_g) September 11, 2022
Is this rugby league.? Todays game is a dead set joke. So Shit to watch because so stop start. Teddy goes off for the game and burgess onlyon report not sent for 10 in that instance.Laying downsoccer style of play. 7 sin bins.Let’s the men throw a couple so everyone can settle.
— mark (@Thehexpest) September 11, 2022
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.
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)."
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