Dale Finucane is facing up to thee games on the sideline after the NRL match review committee charged the Sharks skipper with dangerous contact.
Finucane escaped on-field sanction for the controversial tackle on Panthers star Stephen Crichton in Penrith’s 20-10 win over Cronulla.
The incident in the 71st minute saw Finucane fly out of the line and launch himself at Crichton, with his shoulder appearing to catch the Panthers star high at first glance.
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Crichton was knocked to the ground and went off for a HIA, but the bunker ruled that the contact wasn’t high from Finucane and didn’t penalize him or place him on report.
Finucane can serve two matches with an early guilty plea but will cop a three-game ban if he fights the charge and loses.
“Oh what happened there,” Andrew Voss said on the Fox League commentary after the tackle.
Finucane has come flying in. They are patting him on the back, but I’m not sure about the technique.
“It was round house stuff. There was no, I will hit him around the hips. It was nothing out of the Johnny Raper tackling manual.
“That is some moment.”
Michael Ennis initially thought that Finucane had collected Crichton high with the point of his shoulder, despite wrapping his arms in the tackle.
“Shoulder to the head,” Ennis said.
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“He is just so tenacious Dale Finucane. He has got no respect for his body from him. He just launched at Crichton.
“I don’t think he knew where he wanted to hit him. He just wanted to hit him. He was trying to force an error.
“He is not a dirty player. There is no malice in that from Finucane, but it is contact with his head.
However, referee Ashley Klein in consultation with the bunker was happy to rule play on, despite Crichton having to leave the field.
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“I know what you are saying, but we don’t believe it is leading with the head,” Klein said to Nathan Cleary, who protested the decision.
“It is just a tackle.”
After looking at the replays Ennis believes it may have been an accidental head clash.
“Is it head on head contact,” Ennis questioned.
“It looked like on the replay that it was Finucane’s cheekbone colliding with Stephen Crichton.
“Ashley Klein has seen no problems at all.”
“The bunker has obviously reviewed it as well to come up with that verdict,” Voss added.
“That is some moment for review.”
Crichton’s ear showed the damage of the tackle in a graphic post match photo.
Fox League’s Lara Pitt reported it was stitched back into place by the Panthers doctor but that Crichton would be heading to hospital to see a plastic surgeon.
“If you have seen his ear, it is like a car crash,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.
“His ear is awful so he is going off to get plastic surgery now.
“[The doctor] just put it together, just to hold it, and he has gone to hospital. He has seen better days but he is in good spirits.”
Coach Cleary said that while he was “sure the last thing Dale Finucane wanted to do was injure” Crichton, it was “weird” that no action was taken on the field.
“I guess historically a head clash has been a head clash,” Cleary said.
“But I just kind of think that for how easy it is to give a high tackle penalty away now for contact with the head, it just looked bad.
“I am not exactly sure of interpretations but that it is clearly in contact with the head. It knocks him out. It is just weird that that is okay but the mildest of taps, sometimes, is not okay.”
Panthers center Viliame Kikau was also charged for a shoulder charge on Tracey Connor and will cop a $1500 with an early guilty plea.