The Raiders were on the back foot, the score standing at 10-6 with a crucial 21 remaining minutes. Jamal Fogarty had sent a high kick for Jack Wighton in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Wighton, however, missed the catch, which could’ve potentially lead to a score.
Contrarily, it was Katoa who snatched the ball from the air and was making his way off his line. That’s when Kris made the regrettable decision to lift him and drive him fiercely into the ground.
Katoa suffered an impact to the head, provoking teammate Jesse Ramien to retaliate against Kris. Thankfully, Kris immediately showed concern for his opponent. The crowd’s chants of “off, off, off” echoed through the stadium, leaving referee Grant Atkins with little choice but to dismiss the Raiders‘ player.
With finals looming, this episode could very well signal the end of Kris’ season, pending a likely suspension decision from the match review committee due early Monday.
Ricky Stuart had no qualms disputing a spear tackle call against his player, Nick Cotric, in a 2019 incident, lashing out at journalists. However, this occasion saw him simply term the incident as “unfortunate”, his comments hinting at a need for more “luck” in their game. Raiders‘ leader Elliott Whitehead, however, acknowledged the severity of the tackle.
Despite the turbulence, Katoa powered on, and Cronulla seized the opportunity provided by the extra player. Braydon Trindall scored almost immediately, capitalising on the advantage.
Despite the aggressive nature of Kris’s tackle, a remark by Matty Johns suggested that such incidents could occur quite spontaneously on field. “There’s no doubt that in no way shape or form was it deliberate,” Johns added.
This view was backed up by Nathan Hindmarsh who stated that Kris attempted to pull out halfway, realising the tackle went south, but it was unfortunately too late.
Meanwhile, the defeated Raiders are tasked with a daunting challenge — they are scheduled to take on the Newcastle Knights on their home turf next Sunday, with the objective of snapping the Knight’s unbeaten streak of nine games in the upcoming second elimination final.