Manly’s Karl Lawton was sensationally sent off in the eight minute of his side’s clash with the Rabbitohs on Friday.
Lawton made contact with Cameron Murray’s hips and lifted him over the horizontal, and slammed him down.
Greg Alexander, Benji Marshall and Michael Ennis all backed the referee’s call in Fox commentary as the tackle was widely blasted as dangerous on social media.
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“Up-ended… hold on, Karl Lawton, did it just get away from him?” Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane said.
“I think he’s in trouble here,” Michael Ennis added.
“Technically it looked terrific but the momentum of the tackle and the lifting motion just goes up and over.
“That’s dangerous, he’ll be lucky to stay on the field… that’s very, very dangerous
Referee Grant Atkins deemed it dangerous throw and without a single word said, he pointed to the sheds, sending Lawton off for the tackle.
“The look on Cherry-Evans’ face, he was stunned,” Ginnane said.
Ennis wasn’t surprised to see Lawton gone for the rest of the game.
“It was a bad one,” he said.
“He came up and underneath, it’s the last lifting motion where he almost flips him at the last minute… Murray is lucky not to be hurt.”
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Greg Alexander called it a “1980s tackle,” while both he and Benji Marshall agreed with the referee’s decision.
“I thought it was a send-off offence,” Alexander said.
“We have had players get players in positions and this is the tackle that we want to stamp out.
“Players that get a player up in an awkward position don’t go on with it like that.
“And Karl Lawton drove him into the ground head first. Cameron Murray twisted his head and landed on his shoulder, but it could have been a little different.
“I’ve got no argument with it being a send-off.”
“And you are right it is the tackle we are trying to rub out of the game.
“Lawton is a good guy and he would have had no intentions of trying to hurt Cameron Murray but he got it wrong. The technique he got it completely wrong.
“I agree with the referee’s send-off decision.”
However Phil Gould and Brad Fittler were among those who did not support the decision, criticising it while in commentary for Channel 9,
“It’s just momentum, this can happen on the spur of the moment… really good charge, good hit.
“It’s just momentum, no-one’s hurt, everyone’s OK. Settle down.
“He doesn’t need a spell.”
When Lawton was sent off, Gould said “oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”
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New South Wales Origin coach Fittler also thought the send-off was heavy-handed.
“In support of Gus here, I don’t think at any stage that deserved a send-off,” he said.
“And I’ve got to say what he’s got to do is make sure he applauds Cam Murray. We see a lot of players get in this situation and they’ll drop their head to the ground while Cam Murray looked to protect himself.
“I thought that could have been an awful lot worse and I really can’t believe Lawton is walking past me on the sideline.”
Gould added: “It’s a little bit of a flip but to be sent off for that when there’s absolutely no injury to the other player, I find that extraordinary.
“You want your prime time TV show to now be 12 on 13, if that’s your product I give up.”