Hudson Young under fire over 'dirty' Kalyn Ponga incident as NRL reveals punishment

The Raiders forward was sent to the sin bin for his high shot on Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga.

Canberra enforcer Hudson Young has avoided suspension for his late high shot on Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga in the first half of the Raiders 28-12 win on Thursday night. The reigning Dally M Medallist made a scintillating line break before putting Tyson Gamble in under the posts for what the hosts thought was their first try of the season.

But the try was disallowed after it was deemed that Ponga ran around an off-side Tyson Frizell, preventing Raiders hooker Danny Levi from having a chance to make a tackle on the Knights fullback, constituting an obstruction. But despite the try being chalked off, Knights fans were even angrier by a late shot on their star after he offloaded the ball.

Pictured Hudson Young left and right his high shot on Kalyn Ponga
The Raiders enforcer has been slammed for his 'dirty' late hit on Kalyn Ponga in the Raiders round one win in Newcastle. Image: Getty/ Fox League Twitter

Ponga bounced off the contact of Raiders fullback Jordan Rapana as he passed the ball but as the fullback relaxed his body and watched Gamble streak away, he was blindsided by Young, who smashed his shoulder into his head. The nasty incident had fans worried about Ponga's well-being, as a result of his well-publicised concussion problems, however, fortunately, he was able to continue.

As a replay of the high shot was shown around the stadium an echo of boos and jeers could be heard. Fox Sports' Greg Alexander upon watching the tackle said: "There's no need for that". Referee Todd Smith agreed labelling the hit "totally unnecessary", sending the second rower to the sin bin, the first of the 2024 NRL season.

After Hudson was sent for ten, Alexander continued: "A moment of madness there from Hudson Young. Totally unnecessary. Much worse in slow motion and he hits him pretty quickly after the tackle from Jordan Rapana, but there was no need for it." On Channel 9, Billy Slater was of the same belief, also calling the shot "unnecessary" and fans were quick to agree, some feeling he was fortunate to only receive a sin bin.

Ricky Stuart says Hudson Young shot was nothing more than a push

But Raiders coach Ricky Stuart post-game bizarrely called the deliberate hit a push. While the Canberra coach was fine with the incident resulting in a penalty, he viewed a sin bin as too harsh.

"Well, what was the sin-binning for, pushing?" Stuart said in his post-match press conference. "The buzzword is discretionary, isn’t it? So it was a discretionary decision. But he shouldn’t have even been... I mean yeah penalise him. But if we are going to start penalising people for that we are going to be playing a lot of games with 12.

"But if that is a sin-binning offence and that is a week off then it has got to be consistent every week and every game, but it won’t be. And that’s not having a crack at anyone. The referees have got a very difficult job. But I don’t believe that is a sin-binning offence."

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 07:  Hudson Young of the Raiders is sent to the sin-bin by referee Todd Smith during the round one NRL match between Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 07, 2024, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Hudson Young was sent to the sin-bin by referee Todd Smith for a late high shot on Kalyn Ponga.

Hudson Young hit judged as grade-one dangerous contact

On Friday, the NRL charged Young with just a grade-one dangerous contact offence for his hit on Ponga. That means the Raiders enforcer will be able to get off with just a $750 fine and won't be suspended for round two.


In another bout of good news for Canberra, forward Emre Guler has also escaped suspension for his nasty hip-drop tackle on Dylan Lucas. Both Guler and Young will therefore be free to play in the Raiders' round two match against the Wests Tigers next Saturday.

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