Matt Utai facing long NRL ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matt Utai facing long NRL ban

By Adrian Proszenko 03/07/2006 07:36:36 PM Comments (0)

Bulldogs winger Matt Utai is facing up to seven matches on the sidelines after being charged with a grade-two careless high tackle during his side's 32-10 NRL victory over the Wests Tigers.

Utai became the first player sent off in 270 matches when referee Paul Simpkins gave him his marching orders for a 55th-minute hit on rookie Tigers hooker Stuart Flanagan.

The New Zealand flanker faces a five-match ban if he enters an early guilty plea and will be sidelined for seven matches if he unsuccessfully contests the charge.

Despite being the first player giving his marching orders in more than a year, referees' boss Robert Finch rejected suggestions referees were gun-shy when it came to send-offs.

"The referees adjudicate on each decision on its merits," Finch said.

"They can send the player off any time they wish as long as they have all the information.

"We send them off when the incident requires that sort of action.

"Can you give me an example of anyone that should have been sent off (and wasn't)?"

Asked if some of the lifting tackles that resulted in high grade dangerous throw charges should have been sent off, Finch said: "With dangerous throws, it's impossible for a referee at any level to be able to adjudicate when there is more than one player in the tackle how much each (affect) player has on that tackle."

In other judiciary news, Brisbane's Joel Moon seemed to make a lucky escape after his boot struck Cronulla captain Brett Kimmorley in the head.

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater copped a seven-game ban for a similar incident earlier this year, but Moon will escape suspension with an early guilty plea to his grade one contrary conduct charge.

Moon apologised to Kimmorley on the field after the incident and the Sharks are happy to let the matter rest.

"We're happy with the job the NRL judiciary has done this year, so we'll leave it at that," Cronulla CEO Greg Pierce said.

Bulldogs forward Jarrad Hickey will be suspended for one match unless he beats a grade one careless high tackle charge for his 36th minute hit, also on the luckless Flanagan.

Broncos utility Casey McGuire was charged with a grade-two striking charge and will be sidelined for a week with an early guilty plea or a fortnight if he unsuccessfully contests the charge.

North Queensland veteran Paul Bowman will need to beat a grade-one striking charge to avoid a one-match suspension, while Penrith's Matthew Cross will be free to play against Canberra on Saturday night despite earning a grade one careless high tackle charge during his side's loss to New Zealand Warriors.

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