Victor Radley has copped a three match ban after a headbutt on Dragons forward Blake Lawrie, which left the NRL world fuming. In a battle of two teams despereately in search of a win, the Dragons defeated the Roosters 24-22 in a thrilling Friday night NRL game.
Tempers frayed in the first half at Jubilee Stadium after Dragons centre Zac Lomax slammed Corey Allan into the ground as he attempted to strip the ball. Radley rushed in to man-handle Lomax, sparking a melee between the sides.
'WHAT A FARCE': NRL fans erupt over Bunker incident with referee
'UNNECESSARY': Braith Anasta spills on ugly Bennett saga with Munster
During the push-and-shove, Radley appeared to headbutt Lawrie much to the bewilderment of Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss. "Hang on Radley, hang on a second," Voss said.
“There is a little bit more to look at in that video. They are talking about a headbutt in that. Hang on a second. The penalty will go to the Roosters for a head slamming action, but the Dragons were claiming headbutt against Victor Radley.
“What happens the choking then pushed and then bang. They pointed again and it has been shown on the big screen here." The crowd chanted off as the referee called over Radley.
Dragons captain Ben Hunt was adamant Radley should have been sent off as he argued with the referee. "That is a send off," he said. "I know I am captain and I'm allowed to talk to you," he added.
However, much the amazement of viewers, Radley was only put on report and a penalty given against the Roosters. “Have we stopped sin-binning people this week, are we just putting it in the back pocket preparing for I don’t know what?” NRL great Greg Alexander said in commentary.
“Any other day, Victor gets sin binned.” Maroons great Cooper Cronk had the same view as Alexander. “I agree because if you put the headbutt on report then it is a sin bin,” Cronk said.
“I don’t know if it was because Origin is just around the corner but there were a couple of incidents that probably warranted more.”
This left the rugby league world enraged. Fans took to social media to blast the Bunker and the referee for not taking action against the 'disgraceful' act.
I am flabbergasted. Staggered. Shocked. Speechless. Aghast. Astounded. Astonished. Counfounded.
How on earth did Victor Radley not get at least binned for a blatant headbutt? That is ridiculous from the Bunker #NRL #NRLDragonsRoosters
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) May 19, 2023
Victor Radley. Blatant headbutt. Absolute send-off offence. Not even a sin-bin. That is a disgraceful decision. Great message for the NRL to send that you can slam your head into an opponent and stay on the field 🤯#NRLDragonsRoosters
— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) May 19, 2023
— Hynesight (@Hynesight7) May 19, 2023
I never ever criticise refs: I was one and it's the hardest job in the world.
So believe me when I say this: what are the Bunker thinking? That Radley head butt was the most obvious red of the year.
Seriously, what's the point if they're not getting that?#NRLDragonsRoosters
— Mike Meehall Wood (@MikeMeehallWood) May 19, 2023
On Saturday morning, Radley was hit with a three match ban. If he chooses to fight the charge and loses, he will face four weeks on the sideline.
Blake Lawrie defends Victor Radley
Once tensions cooled, both men were placed on report, Lomax for slamming Allan and Radley for his head-butt on Lawrie. Radley has been charged by the match review committee four times in his previous 12 matches and was sin-binned in three consecutive games last month.
He faces a nervous wait for the match review committee though and given prior loading, will face a heftier penalty than otherwise if charged. The Roosters can ill-afford to lose Radley given fellow middle forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Brandon Smith are already out injured, the latter fracturing his thumb against the Dragons.
But Lawrie shrugged the head-butting incident off post-match. "I love 'Rads', he's the ultimate competitor, absolutely great player. There's no hard feelings at all from my end," he said.
"Whatever the match review committee comes up with, it is what it is. I'm staying out of it."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.