Tonight the disciplinary panel caused quite the stir as they gave their verdict on Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin’s ban for a high shot on his former Leeds teammate and Castleford Tigers star Alex Mellor.
The incident occurred in the do or die clash between the Rhinos and Tigers at Headingley on Saturday in which the victors were guaranteed a run at Old Trafford and Super League glory whilst the losers’ season would be over.
After an outstanding effort from the Tigers for 73 minutes, especially in defence, the Tigers led 8-0 but 14 points in seven minutes from the Rhinos turned the game on its head with Aidan Sezer’s try in the last play of the game sending Leeds into the play-offs with a meeting against Catalans to look forward to on Friday night.
Six of the 14 points Leeds scored to turn the game around came from the boot of Rhyse Martin who sparked the comeback with a penalty goal in the 73rd minute to make it 8-2. His conversions for Kruise Leeming’s try and Sezer’s effort were also significant as they levelled Mason Lino’s Super League record of 36 consecutive goal kicks without missing meaning if he can convert his next effort he’d set a new elite level record with more than anything produced in the NRL.
Moreover, he’s now five shy of the world record shared by Jamie Ellis and Liam Finn which was achieved in the Championship. It would have made an interesting narrative going into the play-offs, but now he’ll have to wait till the Grand Final should Leeds make it or next season to have a crack at the record following his ban.
The initial suspension was one game for a high tackle on opposite number and former Leeds teammate Mellor in the first half. The incident caused the game to stop as it caused Mellor’s nose to bleed with the second-row revealing to Serious About Rugby League that the tackle in fact did break his nose.
However, no penalty was given not even when the video referee got a look so Leeds likely felt they had grounds for appeal but their appeal was deemed “frivolous” by the panel and they stuck to their principles upgrading his ban to a two-game ban meaning not only will he miss the game against Catalans but also a potential semi-final should Leeds topple the Dragons.
It has caused much debate and now Mellor has had his say on the tackle, after all he was the one who copped the brunt of it.
The former Leeds man felt that a penalty should have been awarded especially as it broke his nose, but felt that a ban is harsh.
“Yeah looking at it it doesn’t look bad,” Mellor said after looking back at the tackle, “It’s probably a penalty for a high shot as it does break my nose but not a ban.
“There’s not much Rhyse can do there as I’m falling.”
He then went on to express his sympathies for Martin, showing the respect he still has for his former teammate with the pair starting in the backrow together the last time Leeds won a trophy which came in the Challenge Cup Final back in 2020 against Salford.
“I feel for him getting a ban for that at this stage of the season,” Mellor added. “After all these games are the ones every player wants to be a part of.”
Martin’s absence will likely mean 18-year-old Young Player of the Year nominee Morgan Gannon will start alongside James Bentley in the backrow. It will also mean Liam Tindall will be called into the side on the wing with Zak Hardaker – who came up with a massive play against the Tigers filling in on the wing for the injured Ash Handley – now definitely needed at centre with Martin suspsended.