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Ex-Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors fullback defends Jack Welsby for tackle in Super League semi-final

Though a great game, it’s hard to deny that yesterday’s Super League semi-final between St Helens and Salford wasn’t touched by controversy.

From Morgan Knowles’ yellow card to a potential penalty try for Salford which was denied by referee Chris Kendall who just gave a penalty and awarded Tommy Makinson with a yellow as well.

However perhaps the most curious talking point centres around a tackle in the 29th minute. A piece of defensive applauded at the time by fans and pundits alike for being the epitome of defence as Jack Welsby brilliantly shot out of the line to shut down a Salford attacking move with a thunderous hit on opposite number Chris Atkin.

An almighty tackle on Atkin perfectly timed, it was a moment that encapsulated what St Helens brought to the game with a high intensity performance.

That said, on further inspection it appears there may have been contact with the head as Welsby made the tackle though accidental for sure. Some viewers also claimed to notice that the tackle left Atkin with a bust lip as you’ll see below.

Now to many this is merely an accident and should be treated as such but the way the RFL have clamped down on tackles like this, some St Helens fans are fearing that this incident could result in a ban which would see Welsby miss the Grand Final against Leeds.

However, a former Leeds player has come to defence of young Welsby believing that the way people are over scrutinising every tackle is making the game “boring.”

The man in question is Leeds’ 2004 Grand Final winning fullback Richie Mathers who also had spells at Wigan, Warrington, Castleford, Wakefield and London.

He took to Twitter to respond to comments questioning the tackle: “That’s a great tackle, great defensive read firstly then ripped into him aggressively.

“It’s a contact sport, blood will be spilled on occasion, it’s an occupational hazard but if we sanitise and scrutinise it too much people will continue to switch off. It’s becoming boring.”

It remains to be seen whether Welsby is punished for this as Saints potentially face a nervous wait on Morgan Knowles too after a chicken wing tackle also on Atkin.

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