Cronulla will be sweating on the outcome of Monday’s match-review committee to find out if captain Paul Gallen will face a possible season-ending suspension.
Gallen was placed on report for a ”crusher tackle” on North Queensland forward Scott Bolton midway through the second half of the Sharks’ 13-point loss to the Cowboys on Sunday and could receive a ban that would carry over into the finals series.
The Sharks’ skipper could face up to two weeks on the sideline and miss the sudden-death final if given a grade-two dangerous-contact charge, which carries 250 demerit points. Gallen is on 38 carry-over points from his last suspension for striking Nate Myles in the State of Origin series.
Should the match-review committee slap him with a grade-two charge and he is found guilty, he may not play again this season because he will be ruled out for the final game of the season and week one of the finals.
He may be free to play in the finals if he gets a grade-one charge for dangerous contact, which carries a base of 100 points and will likely result in a one-match ban.
After the match, Gallen played down the severity of the incident and said he was surprised his tackle on Bolton’s back was brought up by the referee, let alone placed on report.
”I was surprised it was a penalty at first. I didn’t know what it was [awarded] for at first; I was just trying to get on his back, so I’ll see tomorrow. There’s not much that saying [anything] about it will do. We’ll just deal with it tomorrow,” Gallen said.
The incident compounded a disappointing afternoon for the Sharks, who let an early second-half lead slip from their grasp as the Cowboys scored the last three tries of the match to run out deserved winners.
Playmaker Todd Carney was a late withdrawal from the side after succumbing to a hamstring and lower-back injury in the last training session before the match. The Sharks did not exert a fluid brand of attack in his absence but Gallen denied Carney’s absence had proved decisive.
”Toddy’s not known for his defence and we are, and they ran through us today. It was poor defensive display from everyone,” Gallen said. ”They [Cowboys] were playing for their lives.”
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan expects Carney to return to the field for their final game of the regular season away to Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
Cowboys outbound fullback Matt Bowen put in a dazzling performance, just days after announcing his exit from the only club he has played for. Bowen announced his retirement from NRL on Friday morning after 13 seasons with the Cowboys, but his one try and three assist performance against the Sharks suggested his departure may be premature.
”Certainly when he plays like that, everyone thinks that. Probably the greatest accolade you can get when you retire is that people ask you that exact question, ‘why aren’t you still playing?’ … It’s a personal choice for Matty,” Cowboys coach Neil Henry said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.