During the nail-biting conclusion of the 22-18 victory for Raiders over Tigers, Wighton ended up on the wrong side of the law for a high tackle on rival Starford To’a. As a result, the match review committee has now sanctioned him for a remark he addressed to referee Peter Gough.
Adding fuel to the fire, Wighton retorted by saying: “You’re trying hard to give this to them. You’re trying hard. That was a good tackle.”
In response to this, Gough cautioned Wighton, “If you want to stay on the field, stop.”
The representative player was fortunate to not be dispatched to the sin-bin and the Canberra team successfully managed to retain all 13 players for the critical concluding play.
The dialogue between Wighton, the esteemed five-eighth of Canberra, and the referee was captured on audio devices and subsequently examined by the match review committee on Monday morning.
Wighton, aged 30, has avoided suspension but will part with $3000 as penalty for a level one charge of contrary conduct.
However, the repercussions for Wighton are just a subplot in a weekend riddled with turbulence for the league’s officials. The Roosters‘ Nathan Brown and Titans‘ bruiser Moeaki Fotuaika were both dismissed for high tackles in their respective matches.
This tense moment between Wighton and the referee occurred at the climax of a fiercely fought match between the Raiders and the perennial underdogs, the Tigers. The Raiders were compelled to bring their defensive play to the fore, after the contentious penalty, to ensure their chances of maintaining their top four standing.
The incident involving Wighton comes on the back of a similar conundrum a month prior, featuring Broncos‘ fullback Reece Walsh. Walsh was slapped with a three-game suspension owing to his guilty verdict at the NRL judiciary for using foul language against referee Chris Butler during a contest.
Walsh retorted with, “what the f— do you mean, c—?” in response to a refereeing decision, which was picked up by the on-field microphones.
A potential suspension for Wighton could have proved detrimental for the Raiders’ hopes of making a last-ditch effort for a place in the top four and would have certainly cast a shadow on his concluding weeks in Australia’s capital city.
Starting from next season, Wighton is set to join the Rabbitohs under a four-year contract.