Australia Shark Finucane guilty of dangerous contact
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Cronulla forward Dale Finucane has been suspended for two weeks after the NRL judiciary unanimously found his contact with Penrith's Stephen Crichton to be both dangerous and careless.
Finucane escaped on-field sanction after replays revealed it was his head rather than arm or shoulder that contacted Crichton, who left the field concussed and in need of plastic surgery to repair his ear after the round-19 clash.
After unsuccessfully fighting his charge, Finucane said suspending him for an accidental head clash had set a precedent.
Finucane to fight NRL charge at judiciary
Cronulla forward Dale Finucane will challenge his dangerous contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night.Finucane's head contacted Crichton's in a tackle on Saturday night, leaving the Panthers centre concussed and in need of plastic surgery to repair to an ear.
"I was quite surprised with the outcome, given it was an accidental offence," he told reporters, "and given our game hasn't seen accidental head contact sanctioned before.
"It's going to set a precedent for our game moving forward."
On Tuesday night, Finucane risked having his initial ban increased from two matches to three by pleading his case before the NRL judiciary, made up of former players Dallas Johnson and Bob Lindner, and chaired by Justice Geoffrey Bellew.
He told the panel as Cronulla were down by four points with less than 10 minutes remaining, he rushed out of the line towards Crichton in an attempt to stifle the Panthers' momentum.
Finucane said given the opportunity to attempt the tackle again, he would have done nothing differently but he had since apologised to Crichton for hurting him.
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Video: Finucane 'heartbroken' for injured McLean (9News.com.au)
NRL counsel Patrick Knowles and Nicolaous Ghabar, counsel for Finucane, debated whether Finucane's rushing out of the line at such pace was dangerous, and whether he was careless in his duty to play the game responsibly.
Ghabar said a head clash had only occurred because Crichton "dipped" and changed his position at the last moment, by which time it was too late for Finucane to adjust his tackle technique.
Knowles argued Finucane was only unable to adjust his tackle technique because he had run out of the line at such pace that he was unable to control his actions and his balance.
He argued Crichton was in a vulnerable position and if he had "dipped", it was only to brace for impact.
The judiciary deliberated for roughly 25 minutes before determining Crichton's injury proved Finucane had behaved dangerously, and while he was free to rush out of the line to tackle Crichton his doing so at such pace was nevertheless careless.
Ghabar successfully sought to have Finucane's three-match suspension downgraded, arguing Crichton was not in a vulnerable position and that while his injury was graphic, his medical report indicated it was not serious.
The judiciary was satisfied that while the force of the contact was high and that there was a significant risk of injury, Crichton's "dipping" motion had played a part in the injury that ensued.
Ghabar had sought to have the charge reclassified as grade one, but the NRL judiciary agreed to impose a grade-two charge, which constitutes a two-match suspension.
Finucane will miss upcoming games against South Sydney and St George Illawarra.
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