Wade Graham's brutal moment against Rabbitohs divides NRL world

The Sharks forward put on one of the biggest hit seen in recent years.

Wade Graham making a tackle and Graham being sent to the sin bin.
Wade Graham (pictured right) was sent to the sin bin after a brutal shot on Davvy Moale in the Sharks' loss to the Rabbitohs. (Images: Fox Sports/Getty Images)

Sharks enforcer Wade Graham's brutal shot on Davvy Moale has divided the NRL world with many claiming the forward should have been sent off, while others disagreed with the sin bin. The Rabbitohs won a thrilling and physical opening encounter against the Sharks 27-18 in a promising showing from both teams to start the season.

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Six months after ending Cronulla's 2022 season with a 38-12 semi-final demolition job, the Rabbitohs returned to haunt a sellout Saturday night crowd in the Shire with a brave and bruising display. The match was played at a frenetic pace with Latrell Mitchell's knee injury a concern for South Sydney after the first match of the season.

The other main talking point was Graham's brutal hit on Moale with 13 minutes left in the second half. Graham rushed out of the line and smashed Moale who went flying back, but managed to hold onto the ball.

"That is the biggest hit I have seen for some time," Greg Alexander said in commentary. "I thought it was ball and chest," Alexander said of the contact.

Play continued, however, after a review referee Todd Smith told the back-rower: "You left the ground to make contact with the head". Graham then watched on from the sideline as he received 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The move decision to send Graham to the bin has caused controversy. Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou defended Graham and said while it was risky, he didn't think there was any malicious intent.

"He shot out and it's risky now when you shoot out like that," Demetriou said. "I don't think there was any intent in it, though."

NRL fans were left divided with many calling for Graham to be sent off after making contact with the head. Others claimed it was a brilliant tackle and contact was made with the chest first.

Rabbitohs and Sharks put on thriller in opening round

Thankfully for Souths fans, in a match littered with injuries, playmaker Lachlan Ilias came to the party with a rousing performance as the Sharks were unable to overcome the absence of injured Dally M Medallist Nicho Hynes.

"It was a huge effort," Demetriou said. "To lose Junior (Tatola) and Jai - Junior straight away and then Jai in the first half, it was a pretty special effort in round one."

The match was played at an electric pace, but it was Souths' second half as a double from Campbell Graham blew the game open before Teig Wilton bagged a late consolation try for the Sharks.

Latrell Mitchell reacts during the NRL match against the Sharks.
Latrell Mitchell (pictured) gave fans a scare with his knee injury in the Rabbitohs' victory over the Sharks.(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"We completed one out of our first five sets in the second half, so we need to address that," lamented losing coach Craig Fitzgibbon. "If we want to get into a contest with a good team, we need to get better there."

The Rabbitohs will be sweating on Mitchell's injury after the star fullback went down in the first half. Mitchell played on and returned from the half-time break with his knee heavily strapped.

with AAP

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