Wests Tigers' Michael Chee Kam receives attention after suffering a head knock on Friday night. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP
Wests Tigers' Michael Chee Kam receives attention after suffering a head knock on Friday night. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

Ponga shoulder charge divides NRL fans

THE NRL's shoulder charge debate has erupted in more controversy with superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga now in danger of copping a suspension that could derail Newcastle's finals hopes.

Ponga faces a nervous wait to see if he is charged by the NRL's match review committee after being sin-binned in the final minutes of the Knights' crucial 28-26 loss to Wests Tigers on Friday night.

NRL fans were divided over referee Henry Perenara's tough stance, with Ponga appearing to make accidental contact with Michael Chee Kam's head during a desperate chase for a bouncing ball in goal.

It was the Knights' fourth straight loss and they blew an early 12-0 lead to trail 18-12 at half-time before going down in the shock result in front of a big Newcastle home crowd.

But the Tigers' courageous fightback in Robbie Farah's 300th milestone was overshadowed post-match by the contentious Ponga sin-binning.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown labelled it "a very stiff decision" and also said  "I don't think there is a cleaner player playing the game".

The counter argument is that accidental or not, it still left Chee Kam in a sickening state and it is the responsibility of a defender not to make contact with the head.

Chee Kam was eventually taken from the field on a medi-cab.

Brown said Ponga had not attempted a "shoulder charge".

"Kalyn is playing at fullback and he has got to make a play," Brown said.

"I think he is a bit unfortunate.

Officials make a call for the stretcher. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP
Officials make a call for the stretcher. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

"I don't think he tried to make a shoulder charge. I think he was trying to make a play for the ball."

Tigers coach Michael Maguire also said he thought Ponga's contact was accidental.

But if Ponga is hit with a charge it could have major ramifications for the Knights, who will take on Manly at Lottoland next Saturday.

Newcastle are desperately clinging to eighth place on 18 competition points and could be out of the top eight by the end of the round if either Brisbane or New Zealand win their matches.

The Knights are also on equal competition points with Cronulla and the Tigers with six rounds of the regular season remaining.

News Corp Australia


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