How Matty Lees incident caused confusion as ‘weak decisions’ criticised

James Gordon
Matty Lees

Photo by Steve Flynn/News Images

St Helens forward Matty Lees is facing a ban of up to three games for an incident that saw Salford’s Shane Wright leave the field through injury at the weekend.

Lees spilled the ball and caught Wright high as the Salford forward gathered the loose ball, earning his side a penalty.

A consequence of the challenge was that Wright suffered a suspected broken ankle, which saw him hobble off the field as a result.

There was confusion in the dugout, as Salford first signalled a ‘head injury assessment’ interchange, only for an RFL official to attempt to correct it as Wright made his way down the tunnel.

According to the RFL Match Review Panel, Lees struck Wright with an elbow/forearm off the ball, a challenge deemed reckless and worthy of a tribunal.

During the game, which St Helens won 26-12 having trailed 12-0 in the first half, referee Chris Kendall simply awarded a penalty for the incident and no card was shown to Lees.

It was one of a number of incidents that Salford coach Paul Rowley expressed frustration over after the game.

Rowley said: “The fourth official didn’t know because it was foul play. We got a penalty at the time and you get to make a sub, and there was a discussion there.

“The match commissioner were getting a little bit confused, they sorted it out in the end. I think they had a rule book in the boot of the car so they went and got it.

“Then losing Andy Ackers to a head injury, that’s two subs you don’t account for.”

MORE: St Helens forward facing tribunal as eight players handed bans

Weak decisions

Rowley was also unhappy with an incident that saw Chris Atkin given a green card. Atkin was clattered in the back on a kick chase and stayed down, requiring treatment from the Salford physio.

Play initially went on, before the referee stopped play, and he then showed the card to Atkin – who was then forced to stand on the sidelines for two minutes, during which time Saints added a further try.

The green card rule states that players who stop the game to receive treatment must either go off for a HIA, be interchanged off the field or take two minutes on the sidelines.

Rowley: “The incident were Chris Atkin goes off on a green card. He gets pummelled in the back and we lose a player, I’m not sure about that one. I thought that was a really weak refereeing decision.

“It’s a consequence of missing the foul play. He received treatment because he’s been floored in the background. It’s on telly. I saw it. That didn’t define the game at all, but there were some weak decisions.”

St Helens back-rower Sironen was cited for three other incidents, including one that earned him a one-match penalty notice for dangerous contact.

A total of 10 incidents during the game at the Totally Wicked Stadium were highlighted by the Match Review Panel.

That included an incident in the first half where Marc Sneyd made contact with Jonny Lomax as the Saints half-back chased a kick, with the MRP determining no further action.

Lees’ possible ban comes with team-mate Morgan Knowles set to return from a five-match ban he picked up for a tackle on Mike Cooper during the Good Friday derby against Wigan.

Cooper has been ruled out long-term through injury as a result, which raised the topic of whether injuries should be taken in to account when bans are dished out.

Salford’s Wright is due to see a specialist early this week to determine the exact nature of his injury.

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