Jack de Belin's first game as St George Illawarra captain proved one to forget, with the Dragons forward sin-binned for a cannonball tackle during a disappointing loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night. Filling in for regular skipper Ben Hunt, who is in camp with the Queensland Origin squad, de Belin was binned during the first half of his side's 26-12 humbling at Redcliffe's Kayo Stadium.
Jamayne Isaako celebrated his 100th NRL game with two tries and five goals to extend his lead as the competition's top point scorer. Five-eighth Anthony Milford set up a try and scored one himself in the playmaker's best game for the Dolphins, who cemented themselves inside the top eight with their seventh win of the season.
'CHANGED RUGBY LEAGUE': NRL world remembers 'Queen' Tina Turner
STATE OF ORIGIN 2023: What NSW got right and wrong for Game I
'COULD NOT BELIEVE IT': Paul Gallen rips QLD over divisive Origin move
Things started well enough for the Dragons, but the game quickly got away from the visitors after de Belin was pinged for what was described as a "dangerous" act, having already been warned over a similar incident from referee Adam Gee. When de Belin targeted the legs of Dolphins lock Ray Stone, who was already being wrapped up by other tacklers, the whisteblower initially appeared content to issue a warning only.
“I just spoke to you down there, there has been a lot that have been very close and I just spoke to you about it, it is dangerous,” Gee said. The Bunker then reviewed the incident and came to the conclusion the contact around the knees of Stones warranted a trip to the bin.
“The referee got it exactly right, contact in and around the knee we don’t want to see that, he needs to be above the knee,” Shane Flanagan said on Fox League. “It is going to be a sin bin here for Jack de Belin, that was very late in the piece,” commentator Warren Smith added.
“That has come from the Bunker no doubt, they’ve watched it again and ruled it was forceful contact around the knee,” Flanagan said. Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns also condemned the de Belin tackle on Nine's coverage.
" They have to be above the knees that third man in... that's so dangerous," Johns said. "They've got to get that out of the game." Plenty of fans agreed that it was an ugly look from the Dragons captain.
De Belin has been sent to the sin bin for this tackle❌
📺 Watch #NRLDolphinsDragons on ch.502 or stream on Kayo: https://t.co/B1ijnGY1g8
✍️ BLOG https://t.co/7NtEdC0a79
🔢 MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/cLu8QYTH1l pic.twitter.com/y0DVasB4wQ
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) May 25, 2023
I agree that De Belin deserved to be binned and reported, but why should it be up to the Bunker and not the ref?
Who’s in charge? #NRLDolphinsDragons
— Callum #Whatever (@Bombers83) May 25, 2023
Jack de Belin deserves that so much. Should not have been captain in the first place and justice has been served.#NRLDolphinsDragons
— Winston Neville (@WinstonNeville4) May 25, 2023
Game over. Really grubby tackle from De Belin. This will be a cricket score now #redv
— Nick (@NickRedV) May 25, 2023
That’s the 2nd dog shot by De Belin. What a great captain. #NRLDolphinsDragons
— Nick (@cookieman1990) May 25, 2023
What happens when your told multiple times to not do it but you keep doing it. About time he was binned
— ezz (@HRR99796859) May 25, 2023
Jack de Belin tackle sparks NRL debate
While there was plenty of backlash over the tackle, Johns and league great Paul Vautin disagreed with fans that it was worthy of a sin bin. " That's not a sin bin," Vautin said on Nine. "The referee, they have a feel for when a sin bin should be. Penalty sufficient, play on ," Johns added.
Interim Dragons coach Ryan Carr said he needed to look over several incidents in the match again, but suggested the de Belin decision was among a number of inconsistencies from officials. "I don't want to make too many outlandish comments, they (Dolphins) played a good game of footy, I don't want to make too many excuses for it," he said.
"But at the end of the day I've got to look after the players and going through it, there seemed to be a lot of penalties early and all of a sudden the whistle went away late so I don't understand why."
Cronulla premiership-winning legend Michael Ennis backed the officials though and agreed that the de Belin tackle was a bad look. “Spearing in below the knee, really good work from referee Adam Gee, just not tolerating it, he sid”
“It is a tackle we want out of the game and he spent 10 minutes in the sin bin.” I think there’s intent there, you’ve got time to think about it. We don’t want players hitting players below the knee with force."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.