NRL Round 21 Hits and Misses: Stuart's unbelievable verbal attack

We take a look at the extraordinary comments made by Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, an amazing Eels try and a dour and disappointing NRL battle in Campbelltown.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Unprecedented, uncalled for, and disgraceful

Let's cut to the chase regarding Ricky Stuart's unbelievable verbal attack on Jaeman Salmon's character during his post-game media conference. Stuart's Raiders had just lost a game they simply could not afford to lose, against a team missing its two most influential players, all in front of a disappointed home crowd. Stuart should have been making back page headlines for an inability to coach his team to a much-needed victory, instead he has thrown up this jaw-dropping attack.

"Where Salmon kicked Tommy, it ain't on. I've had history with that kid. I know that kid very well," Stuart said, jabbing as he wound up a verbal right hook.

"He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn't changed. He's a weak-gutted dog person now."

It was totally unnecessary and completely unprofessional and the NRL needs to sanction Stuart. Not only did he publicly attack Salmon, in doing so he had the potential to influence the decision of the Match Review Committee, who would usually consider a player's actions without the benefit of such a damning character reference.

As it transpires, the kicking charge will only bring Salmon a fine, while Stuart's outburst is being investigated at the highest levels. Salmon's family have called for the NRL to take action.

"We were disappointed by the comments of Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart after what was a fantastic game of football for the Panthers and our son, Jaeman," the family said in a statement.

"We were surprised by Ricky's claim that he knows Jaeman personally as they have had no contact since Jae was 12 years old.

"We are calling on the NRL to take action as we believe Jaeman has been wronged in this situation."

The whole thing could really blow up in Stuart's face. He could be the first coach ever banned for comments made at a media conference. The Raiders would have to hand the reigns over to one of his assistants, they could start winning these remaining and vital games, Stuart's coaching ability could really come into question.

Tigers fans let down again

The battle at Campbelltown might not have had any influence on the important end of the NRL ladder, but the crowd of mostly Tigers fans were very invested in seeing their team back up an impressive last-start victory over the Broncos.

The standard of play was not of the highest order, but there was plenty of passion and niggle on display from both teams. Knights and Queensland centre Dane Gagai was seen giving Tigers players a verbal spray earlier in the game, but with 17 minutes remaining he missed a straight-up one-on-one tackle on Asu Kepaoa, which saw the Tigers draw to within four points of the Knights after they had trailed 14-0 at halftime.

The Tigers took advantage of the southerly breeze and the kicking games of Jock Madden and Adam Doueihi to put the Knights under plenty of pressure as the clock wound down, but they lacked the attacking polish to score the necessary third try. Like a team of 10-year-olds they threw one-out run after one-out run at the Knights line in the closing seconds, with almost predictable results. The loyal Tigers fans left to scratch their heads, after another false dawn had passed.


Waqa brilliance turns game

It could well go down as the most amazing ever of all the incredible gravity-defying corner tries. Midway through the second half at Brookvale, Parramatta winger Waqa Blake scored a try which defied belief and turned the match in the Eels favour.

Much-maligned Eels halfback Jakob Arthur floated a looping ball to Blake on the right wing who caught the ball well above his head with over five metres to go to the line and Morgan Harper charging towards him. Harper hit him as he began a leap towards the corner, his hand somehow jammed the ball into the turf as his entire body was bundled into the advertising.

The referee awarded the try before quickly calling in the bunker to review all the moving parts. It required frame-by-frame footage from two angles to show Blake had indeed placed the ball in the in-goal area, millimetres away from the touch-in-goal chalk. The other angle showed Blake's knees both equally a centimetre above the grass, a metre over the sideline, seemingly hovering long enough for him to plant the ball.

The try brought the Eels to within two points of the Sea Eagles, trailing 20-18, and it was all Parramatta from there. The win without Mitchell Moses will raise Eels confidence levels heading in to the finals and puts an end to any realistic chance the Sea Eagles had of making the eight.