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The simple rule change that would fix the vagueness around penalty tries apparent in St Helens vs Salford Red Devils

Yesterday a superb effort from St Helens, especially in the intensity of their defence, saw them secure a place in a fourth consecutive Grand Final.

They’ll meet old Grand Final foes Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford in six days time as they battle it for the Super League title. A win for either side would deliver a record ninth Grand Final win.

The Saints were deserved winners, but Salford were certainly unlucky especially losing star player Andy Ackers two minutes in on the back of losing Brodie Croft last week.

Saints didn’t have it easy dealing with being down to 12 men twice but the second of those periods was a real talking point. Tommy Makinson was shown a yellow card for holding Tim Lafai back when chasing a Marc Sneyd kick.

A penalty of course came but many people believed it should have been a penalty try. Now in the letter of the law the right decision was made with their being significant doubt over whether Lafai would have made it to the ball if Makinson hadn’t intervened.

Furthermore, Salford weren’t the only ones who could feel hard done by an instance like this with Joe Batchelor seemingly held back when chasing a kick in the first half. So, this isn’t as one sided a debate as some would think.

Both sides could have complained about potential penalty tries but there is indeed a real vagueness to these situations with it being down to the officials to decide whether there was doubt over the try being scored which Chris Kendall deemed there was in both situations.

Thus, I feel like a slight yet simple rule change could resolve this. You see in both situations the defender clearly felt there was a danger that the attacker would score the try so someone on the field believed a try would be scored if the defender didn’t hold the attacker back.

So, my suggestion is simple. The fact that a defender feels the need to hold the attacker back shows that they think that a try will be scored as it is their job to stop this and have subsequently taken out the attacker to prevent a try. Therefore, any action near the tryline designed to stop a try illegally should lead to a penalty try.

This may seem harsh but it would do away with the current vagueness that surrounds the rule and it would also deter players from committing professional fouls.

This would also take the pressure off the official to form an opinion on the incident playing with ifs and buts and would leave the focus on the player to decider whether they think a try is to be scored and how they should respond to stop it.

This is not to say either Lafai or Batchelor would have scored had this rule been in place yesterday however we’d have less controversy around the two moments and we would be able to focus more on one of the best semi-finals in Super League history where one of Super League’s greatest ever sides showed their character especially in defence to down one of the most exciting teams in the competition.

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