Why Sam Walters escaped ban but St Helens trio did not

Leeds Rhinos’ win over St Helens was full of controversy.

But the biggest moment perhaps came in the 75th minute.

At 24-all, Saints forced a drop out and Sam Walters hit Matty Lees with a thunderous challenge.

Jack Welsby then started a pushing match feeling that the tackle was illegal and replays suggested it could have been a shoulder charge.

That was the view of Jon Wilkin on Sky Sports after initially believing the tackle to be fair.

He said:

“You can’t do that. That is a shoulder charge. I apologise to Jack Welsby, that is a shoulder charge.

“That is a step too far, he will be lucky to still be on the field. At first I thought he had wrapped the arm but it was Cameron Smith who had done that.

“When Matty Lees is coming at you like that, you have to wrap your arm around.”

Everyone was preparing for Tommy Makinson to have a shot at goal till Chris Kendall ruled that it wasn’t a shoulder charge, giving Leeds a penalty for Welsby’s involvement in a crucial moment that helped turn the game.

Barrie McDermott then said: “I think he has got that wrong, for me it is a shoulder charge.”

Before Wilkin described it as a shocking decision: “That is a shocker. That’s not a shoulder charge? I called it from up here that it looked like a fair challenge so I get it, but having seen it a few times are you tell me it is not a shoulder charge?

“Saints will be fuming with that decision.”

They will be fuming even more now to see Sam Walters charged with a Grade B Shoulder Charge by the Match Review Panel.

However, he won’t receive a ban due to the new system which focusses on fines so instead he will have to pay £250.

This is also partly because it was only deemed a shoulder charge and not dangerous contact.

In contrast Konrad Hurrell will endure a two match ban for “Strikes – Strikes with hand, arm or shoulder – reckless.”

Meanwhile, the reason Sione Mata’utia and Curtis Sironen receieve bans is because of the flexion they caused to the passers body something Walters dodn’t cause in what was in essence a tackle if an illegal one rather than a late hit or dangerous contact or indeed a strike.

Mata’utia and Sironen’s bans were due to: “Dangerous Contact – Dangerous Contact – A defending player makes contact with an
opponent after the ball has been released by an opponent in a vulnerable position which
causes flexion to the head, neck or spinal column on an attacking player, which poses an
unacceptable risk of injury to that player.”

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