An uproar has kicked off among NRL fans after Canterbury's Reed Mahoney was put on report for a hip-drop tackle, only to be ruled out of the rest of the Bulldogs' loss to the Gold Coast only moments later on a dubious no-call. Mahoney's absence ultimately didn't end up hurting the Bulldogs in the 20-18 victory, but he awaits a verdict from the NRL judiciary to play against the Roosters after the bye.
After a review from the Bunker on Mahoney's tackle on Moe Fotuaika was ruled a hip-drop and therefore worthy of a penalty, outcry emerged from fans who believed the definition of a hip-drop tackle was still too loosely defined. The NRL moved to clarify what constitutes a hip-drop last week, after several other noteworthy incidents in the past few weeks.
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Fans were already frustrated and confused by the ruling, but moments later things went from bad to worse for Mahoney. He had to be substituted off the ground for a HIA after Tino Fa’asuamaleaui ran through his with a raised forearm. That incident was also reviewed by the Bunker, but there was no penalty issued against Fa’asuamaleaui.
Both decisions coming within quick succession sparked an interesting debate among NRL commentators and left fans absolutely fuming. Former NRL player turned commentator Michael Ennis said he was in disbelief that Fa’asuamaleaui wasn't penalised.
“You can’t do that, he raises the forearm straight into the face of Reed Mahoney,” Ennis said. “I am bewildered that wasn’t a penalty.”
Speaking after the game, Mahoney himself said he understood why the NRL was trying to get the hip-drop out of the game, but maintained he hadn't executed such a tackle on Fotiaika. "I didn't think it was," Mahoney said.
"But that's what they've seen at the time. I definitely didn't agree with him (the referee) but it's something they're trying to stamp out so I understand that. There probably does need to be a bit more clarity but I didn't think it was as bad as what it looked."
If Reed Mahoney’s tackle is a hip-drop or some other type of illegal hybrid tackle, the game is no longer as we know it..#NRLBulldogsTitans
— Martin Lang (@Martin_Lang11) May 21, 2023
Reed Mahoney has been dudded twice in a minute there.#NRLBulldogsTitans
— Elliott Lovejoy (@ElliottLovejoy) May 21, 2023
Okay. So let me get this straight. Reed Mahoney gets put on report for a Tackle - that's what it was, a TACKLE! Then has to go off for a HIA because Tino is allowed to lead into contact forearm/elbow first, and No Penalty. The #NRL officials have no clue anymore.
— Nathan Keven (TSH) (@thesidelineheat) May 21, 2023
How on earth is Reed Mahoney on report for that tackle. Ref did not even say what it's on report for. NRL just last week admitted mistake with Carrigan and releases a video to explain what a hip drop is to fans and officials proceed to make these decisions like they don't know.
— NRL Allstars Podcast (@NRL_SC_Allstars) May 21, 2023
Later on Fox League, Greg Alexander and Corey Parker had a major disagreement on whether or not the Titans big man was deserving of scrutiny for the hit. “Well it was a forearm to the head. He knocked him out. Are you allowed to do that?” Alexander said.
“Every front rower in the game initiates contact," Parker replied. "It’s not up to Tino to then determine where Reed Mahoney puts his head.”
When Braith Anasta suggested Fa’asuamaleaui had made eye contact with Mahoney before the hit, Parker was left incredulous. Meanwhile, Alexander stood by his point that Fa’asuamaleaui needed to be more careful in future.
“Every front rower might lift their arm, but they don’t knock the defender out which is exactly what happened there," he replied.
Bulldogs prevail over Titans in Josh Addo-Carr's return
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs eked out the narrow victory thanks to sensational play from Josh Addo-Carr - a timely performance before the NSW State of Origin team was announced. Returning from a syndesmosis injury sooner than expected, Addo-Carr finished with one try and showed his signature speed hasn't been affected.
Queensland's Origin hopefuls David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui established the Titans' 14-0 halftime lead but the Bulldogs rallied as halfback Matt Burton found his rhythm after the break. The Bulldogs seized the advantage for the first time when winger-turned-middle forward Jayden Okunbor found a hole in the defence after a set restart at close range in the final three minutes.
Tries to Jake Averillo and Jacob Kiraz came directly after Burton's signature bomb kicks, while Addo-Carr's was on the back of the halfback's line break. Okunbor snatched a win at the death that hoists the Bulldogs off the bottom of the ladder. The loss continues the Titans' recent trend of second-half fades.
"We again found a way to not win a game. We did everything right," said coach Justin Holbrook. "You don't lead 14-0 and not know what you're doing.
"We're just finding ways to come unstuck. We were in complete control of the game and we didn't win it. I feel awful."
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