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Pressure on NRL match review panel
The NRL match review committee will earn its keep on Monday after a brutal start to the 2008 season continued unabated with two players sent off and several others on report.
Cronulla prop Ben Ross could be facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines for his late and high elbow to the chin of Melbourne kicker Cooper Cronk which marred Sunday's thrilling 17-16 win over the premiers at Telstra Dome.
There are sure to be some asking again whether the former Queensland Origin forward should have been playing just a week after being heavily concussed in a sickening head clash, although he was cleared to do so.
Ross was floored again Sunday when the Storm's Brett White retaliated to the hit on Cronk by landing a right jab on his jaw, both players sent off for their trouble.
The ugly side of the shoulder charge emerged for a second straight week, leaving Brisbane Test star Karmichael Hunt and Cowboys centre Ashley Graham in danger of being rubbed out of Friday night's all-Queensland derby by the NRL judiciary.
As if that wasn't bad enough Manly's Josh Perry was put on report for an alleged headbutt on his return to Newcastle.
The match review committee will be under pressure to act on Hunt and Graham's tackles in light of a bad week of publicity for the shoulder charge following Riley Brown's "prowler" shoulder charge which put South Sydney star Craig Wing out for at least three months.
Hunt and Graham were both attempting shoulder charges which went horribly wrong.
Hunt plastered Braith Anasta's nose over his face as Brisbane maintained their perfect record with a 20-14 win over the Sydney Roosters while Wests Tigers skipper Brett Hodgson is likely to miss next week's clash with the Bulldogs after being heavily concussed by Graham in Townsville on Sunday night.
Anasta and Hodgson both slipped into their respective tackles, but match review committee chairman Greg McCallum - while not commenting specifically on either tackle - said ball carriers changing position was part of the risk in attempting a shoulder charge.
"The onus is on the tackler not to come in contact with the head," McCallum said.
"There are variables like players slipping, arms deflecting off player's shoulders and so on, but it doesn't exonerate the player. The player can't be let off just because one of those things happened.
"They are treated like careless tackles or reckless tackles depending on how they are reviewed."
Hunt appeared to have his head turned and eyes closed as his shoulder crashed into Anasta's face, but Graham could have more of a case to answer after seemingly extending the elbow in his collision with Hodgson.
The Tigers custodian attempted to carry on but was clearly not in control of all his senses when finally replaced minutes later.
Hodgson will continued to be monitored this week, Tigers coach Tim Sheens in little doubt as to how the damage was done.
"There is no doubt I thought it was the point
of the elbow that hit him not a shoulder," Sheens said.
Ross woes may be compounded as he could have a hefty loading added to any penalty, having been charged with a grade four reckless high tackle for raising an elbow to the jaw of Bulldogs prop Kane Cleal in July last year.
Should he receive a similar charge, Ross would be facing a seven week ban, adding to the 13 weeks of suspension he has already served during his seven-year career.
The double sending off was the first time since 2000 that two players had been marched simultaneously, Wests Tigers bad boy John Hopoate and St George Illawarra's Terry Lamey the players involved on that occasion.