After one of the most high-intensity contests of the season so far, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was left questioning how Sharks enforcer Dale Finucane avoided a penalty or charge for a disastrous collision with Stephen Crichton.
The 70th-minute incident left Crichton in urgent need of medical assistance following a violent head clash that left him with a mangled ear and no recollection of the hit itself. Images of Crichton’s brutal injury soon did the rounds on social media.
While Crichton was forced to leave the field, Finucane escaped any immediate consequence, with no penalty or charge in the aftermath.
After the game it was confirmed Crichton was being taken to hospital to see a plastic surgeon
Worrying post-match IV with Stephen Crichton, after his head clash:
"Only just probably getting my senses back now, can't really remember what happened as well, so yeah, starting to get my memory back now."
"Do you remember the game at all?"
"Nah, nah."#NRLPanthersSharks pic.twitter.com/WlnXJ6P7Yc
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) July 23, 2022
Though Crichton recovered from the sickening blow, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was left wondering how Finucane escaped any punishment.
“It’s weird that that’s okay and the mildest of taps aren’t. (Crichton’s) ear is awful,” Cleary said in the post-match press conference.
“He’s seen better days but he’s in good spirits.
“I’m sure the last thing Dale Finucane wanted to do was injure him.
“Historically, head clashes have been a head clash. But how easy is it to give a high tackle penalty away now? It looked bad. (Crichton) is not in a great way.
“There’s an argument there for careless (tackle). I thought we’d at least get a penalty.”
Cleary also revealed that Crichton was taken to hospital after the game to see a plastic surgeon, while still displaying heavy symptoms of concussion.
Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon admitted that while the incident didn’t look good, there was certainly no malice involved.
“(He hit him) straight in the face with his head and his arms flung up after,” Fitzgibbon said post-game, in response to suggestions a swinging arm may have been involved.
“It was a pretty big head clash from what I saw. His arms came up spectacularly after, but I thought it was pretty flush contact with the head for me.”