Jarome Luai has been reported for a late hit on Jahrome Hughes during the intense clash between Penrith and Melbourne. Luai’s attempted tackle on Hughes was ruled as late, resulting in tempers rising on the field.
Storm player Harry Grant took offense and had to be separated from Luai by their teammates. This report puts Luai’s participation in Game Three in Sydney at risk, adding to the pressure he already faced to retain his spot in the NSW side. Nicho Hynes and Cody Walker are reportedly being considered as replacements for him. The decision to report Luai was met with confusion from the Fox League panel, with Dan Ginnane expressing his belief that there was nothing wrong with the tackle. However, the game had already seen a controversial moment earlier when the Bunker made an incorrect call.
In the match, the Storm took a 14-0 lead over the Panthers within the first 25 minutes. However, there were doubts about the legitimacy of the try scored by Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Asofa-Solomona himself didn’t appear entirely confident that he had scored.
The situation was further complicated by the fact that there seemed to be a second movement and an attempt to take the ball away by the Panthers‘ Sunia Turuva. Commentator Michael Ennis and Dan Ginnane doubted whether the try would be awarded, as Asofa-Solomona didn’t seem to have control of the ball. But when referee Adam Gee referred the decision to the Bunker, it was ruled as a try as Gerard Sutton claimed that Asofa-Solomona had regripped the ball before it touched the ground. Ginnane described it as luck going in Melbourne’s favor and expressed his belief that the Bunker has been more lenient in 2023.
At halftime, Greg Alexander shared his opinion that Asofa-Solomona himself was a sign that the try should not have been awarded. He believed that Asofa-Solomona had dropped the ball and questioned Gerard Sutton‘s decision about the control of the ball. Alexander expressed his frustration with the decision, stating that after watching countless replays, it still didn’t make sense to him.