The NRL world has erupted after Payne Haas escaped punishment for what appeared to be a hip-drop tackle on Reagan Campbell-Gillard, despite two separate incidents sparking a debate. In a fiery NRL clash, Brisbane defeated Parramatta 26-16 in Darwin to help extend their lead at the top of the table.
Both J'maine Hopgood and Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam were sin-binned for hip-drop tackles, despite the Eels star's act appearing unworthy of time on the sideline. "I can't find fault with that tackle," Warren Smith said of Hopgood's tackle.
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However, controversy erupted when Haas escaped the sin-bin for a tackle on Campbell-Gillard that has all but ended any hope of the forward earning a State of Origin recall. Campbell-Gillard went down in pain after Hass dropped in the tack, but it went unpunished. The incident occurred just as the Eels were beginning to recover from the Broncos' fast 22-6 start.
“I think Payne Haas will be gone here too... Campbell-Gillard in all sorts,” Steve Roach said in commentary. “That’s exactly what Ezra Mam did moments ago, given what we have seen tonight... this should be 13 vs 11,” Smith said, before the decision.
However, Haas escaped the sin-bin, which left Warren and the NRL world in shock. “That is remarkable and honestly hard to believe given what we saw barely 60 seconds ago,” Smith added.
Fans reacted with confusion to the tackle after Hopgood was sent to the bin for an innocuous challenge. Haas' could be deemed similar to Mam's incident that saw him spend 10 minutes in the bin. It marks another week where hip-drop tackles dominate the headlines as the NRL attempts to clarify the ruling.
BREAKING NEWS: Reagan Campbell-Gillard expected to be sidelined for 8-12 weeks with a groin injury. Set to head to hospital tonight in Darwin to get better picture but not good. Was it a hip-drop from Payne Haas? All eyes on match-review panel tomorrow! #NRLEelsBroncos
— Jake Duke (@JakeDuke1) April 21, 2023
Another embarrassment to our game
— Dean Ritchie (@BulldogRitchie) April 21, 2023
Not even close it was just an awkward tackle that went wrong. People have no idea what a hip drop is.
— JT (@Tanswell87) April 21, 2023
Yes harsh sin bins favouring the broncos, while not sending off broncos player Payne haas for a blatant hip drop.
— Defi Daddy 🤠 (@Cryptoztralia) April 21, 2023
The Ezra Mam hip drop is tough on the Broncos' five-eighth as he is half the size of Doorey attempting to tackle him from behind.
The Payne Haas one on RCG was far worse and should be the only one to incur a suspension! #NRLEelsBroncos
— Anthony Morgan (@anthfieg1) April 21, 2023
— Eden Richards (@Eden_Richards) April 21, 2023
The prop forward left Darwin's TIO Stadium in an ambulance and an Eels spokesperson said early indications were he could miss eight to 12 weeks. "He's in a lot of pain, he can hardly walk," Eels coach Brad Arthur said of Campbell-Gillard's injury.
"Wiremu (Greig) has done a good job, he'll have to come into Reg's place. I think it'll be more than a couple of weeks."
Haas was on Saturday hit with a grade-two dangerous contact charge. The forward will miss one game with an early guilty plea, or two if he attempts to fight it at the judiciary and loses.
NRL world divided on hip-drop tackle
The two sin-bins come as the NRL ponders how best to police the hip-drop tackle, the scourge of the league in recent seasons. Arthur was just as confused over what constitutes as a hip-drop tackle and what doesn't.
"I'm not an expert on hip-drops," Arthur said. "I do know that we're going to be missing Reg for quite some time and with my untrained eye, looking at all three tackles, they looked pretty similar to me."
Broncos boss Kevin Walters was content to let the match review committee determine whether Haas would miss game time."I believe it went upstairs to the bunker and they must have cleared it. I'm not sure," he said.
"We'll let the people look after that stuff look after it."
Adam Reynolds and Mam conspired to put the Broncos on the path to victory in the first half; at least one of the two halves had a hand in each of Brisbane's four first-half tries.
It was Brisbane's domination through the middle that allowed their playmakers to thrive, Haas leading the pack with 212 run metres and Patrick Carrigan pitching in 158.
Once in position, Mam, Reynolds and fullback Reece Walsh had the ball on a string. In wet conditions, Brisbane never went on with the bloodshed as it looked like they might, but nor could the Eels complete their second-half comeback in wet conditions.
Told to lift his game by Arthur earlier this month, five-eighth Dylan Brown was the best of a beaten bunch.
He set up two of Parramatta's three tries with his boot, first putting a grubber kick through for his captain Clint Gutherson and then finding Maika Sivo across field amid the downpour.
"We knew they were always going to fight back in the second half," Walters said. "Those games, we had a lot of possession in the first half, so they normally swing back to even up. We expected a tough game and we got one."
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