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Clint Newton suspended for 12
Newcastle Knights forward Clint Newton has been suspended for 12 matches by the NRL judiciary in response to an ungraded striking charge which occurred during Friday night's match at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
Newton was sent off in the 7th minute by referee Tim Mander following a high shot on St George Illawarra's Ashton Sims.
Initially, Sims was assisted from the field with a suspected broken jaw, his teeth puncturing through the skin below his lip. But following six stitches, he was able to return in the second half, contributing to the Dragons narrow 24-22 victory.
Newton was quick to apologise to Sims off the field. The Dragons forward has since played down the incident, indicating that he holds no malice towards the Newcastle back rower.
But during tonight's 90 minute hearing, the judiciary panel of Mark Coyne, Darrell Williams and Mal Cochrane still handed down a 12 match suspension.
Newton claimed that he closed his eyes to brace himself for the hit on Sims and that he didn't know what had happened until he saw the video replay on the big screen.
Newton's legal representative, Grant Butterfield argued that it was a shoulder charge gone wrong.
Butterfield had earlier asked for a three week sentence and emphasised Newton's good character, unblemished record as well as his contrition and remorse for what was an ugly incident.
Newton's father, golfer Jack Newton, was called as a witness.
"Clint was pretty distraught... I've always tried to teach my kids to be honest," Jack Newton said.
NRL prosecutor Peter Kite, who recommended a nine week ban, showed footage of a kneeing offence by Sharks pivot Greg Bird (10 weeks) and Melbourne forward Danny Williams' "king-hit" on Tigers forward Mark O'Neill (18 weeks).
Kite also submitted evidence of Sims' injuries from Dragons doctor Martin Raftery which included three loose teeth which were later wired.