Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been cleared for Friday's
blockbuster final, after successfully arguing at the NRL judiciary that his hit on a South Sydney rival was a "rugby league accident".
On Tuesday night, the Kiwis test prop was found not guilty of a grade-one careless
high-tackle charge, despite Souths prop Liam Knight suffering a nasty gash above his left eye and having to be taken from ANZ Stadium in a medicab.
Knight still has to pass concussion protocols to play the return clash between the two local rivals, but Waerea-Hargreaves will be free to play, setting the scene for a fiery match-up at the SCG.
"I'm really happy with the result, so I'm looking forward to prepping as much as I can and getting into Friday against the Bunnies," a relieved Waerea-Hargreaves said.
NRL counsel Peter McGrath attempted to argue that the Roosters prop was guilty of rushing into the tackle.
But the three-man panel of Mal Cochrane, Tony Puletua and Dallas Johnson took just 15 minutes to find Waerea-Hargreaves not guilty.
Waerea-Hargreaves gave evidence that he was attempting to plug a hole, after Knight beat Boyd Cordner and that he was bracing to make a "catching tackle".
He argued that after Knight's left arm flicked him across the face, he turned his body and Knight fell into his bicep.
"I was hoping he would fall into my chest, this catching tackle," Waerea-Hargreaves said. "I flinched, opened up my body and he fell into my bicep."
He also refuted that he acted carelessly, with counsel James McLeod describing it as a rugby league accident.
"No, not at all do I think it was careless," Waerea-Hargreaves said, adding that he was unable to avoid contact with the head.
Meanwhile, Parramatta's Kane Evans will miss Sunday's elimination final against
Brisbane, after failing to have his careless high-tackle charge downgraded at the
Evans was seeking a downgrade from a grade two to a grade one for his hit on Manly's Brad Parker.
Evans's counsel Nick Ghabar argued that the first point of contact was made on
Parker's left arm and the Eels prop bounced up from there.
He said that Evans intended to make a wrapping tackle, but was wrong-footed after
But NRL counsel McGrath successfully argued that Evans attempted a "high-risk, marginal-option" tackle, while Parker "lost consciousness by the time his head hit the ground".
"I had a fair trial and I'm disappointed, but I'm just going to focus on the rest of the year and preparing my best for the finals," Evans said.
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