Phil Gould lashes 'terrible' sin bin drama after Kalyn Ponga incident

The incident proved a massive talking point for NRL fans.

Pictured right is NRL commentator Phil Gould and Manly's Tolu Koula tackling Newcastles Kalyn Ponga on the left.
NRL commentator Phil Gould was among those to slam the decision to sin bin Manly's Tolu Koula for a tackle on Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga. Pic: Fox League/Getty

Phil Gould has taken aim at the officiating in the NRL after questioning why Manly star Tolu Koula was controversially sin-binned for a tackle on Newcastle's Kalyn Ponga on Sunday. The incident proved crucial as Ponga and the Knights stormed home in the second half to seal a much needed 28-18 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Ponga overcame a shaky start and a number of concerning head knocks to inspire his side to the come-from-behind win over the Sea Eagles, in the wake of his Queensland State of Origin snub. The Knights skipper threw an intercept pass that led to Manly's first try and failed to kick an early dropout the required 10 metres, but bounced back to help Newcastle record just their fifth win of the season.

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Shifted to fullback for the first time this season, Ponga overcame two blows to head after tackles from his Manly opponents went awry. However, it was a third incident involving Sea Eagles flyer Koula that proved the most controversial.

With 15 minutes left and the match hanging in the balance, Manly were reduced to 12 men when the referee and Bunker ruled that Koula's tackle on Ponga constituted forceful contact to the Newcastle player's head, warranting a trip to the sin bin. Manly coach Anthony Seibold described it as a "harsh call", with Gould particularly scathing of the interpretation from the officials.

"Tell me how he's hit him in the head," Gould said on Nine's coverage. "He hasn't gone anywhere near hitting him in the head. That is a terrible sin-bin, that really is a terrible sin-bin."

Viewers were also left baffled by the sin bin, with many questioning why Ponga wasn't taken from the field to undergo an HIA, considering his history with concussions and the fact the Koula tackle was deemed forceful enough to warrant 10 minutes in the sheds.

Manly coach refuses to blame sin bin for loss

Manly's coach said while he didn't agree with the sin bin call, he refused to blame the incident for his side's defeat. The Knights capitalised with Koula off the field though, with Phoenix Crossland scoring under the posts after a scrappy play to put the Knights back in the lead. A length-of-the-field try from Newcastle winger Dom Young sealed the game in style.

"I didn't think it was a sin-bin," Seibold said. "It was a harsh call, but that's not why we lost the game.

"I was super proud of the guys today. We were brave, really brave. We had five or six try-saving tackles. They kept turning up for each other out of position. It's disappointing because of the effort they put in."

The Sea Eagles' defeat came without Origin stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic, plus the NSW star's injured brother Jake. Manly were gutsy given the players they were missing, and scrambled well to save several tries before the time without Koula cruelled them.

Seen here, Dom Young in Newcastle's NRL victory over Manly.
Dom Young sealed Newcastle's NRL victory over Manly with a stunning length-of-the field try. Pic: Getty

Ponga insisted after his side's win that the Maroons decision to leave him out for the Origin opener had not played on his mind or influenced his move from five-eighth to fullback. The Knights skipper admitted that the only way to get back into the Queensland side is to string matches together without concussion scares.

"I just have to play games, I can't worry about (selection)," Ponga said. "I am fortunate that today I had a couple and obviously no effect. I felt fine.

"It is part of footy and a part of my game. I can't worry about them. I can't go into games worried about that. I just need to move on and do my role and play good footy."

with AAP

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