NRL world up in arms over farcical Harry Grant sin bin as Sharks get rare win in Melbourne

Harry Grant was sin binned in controversial scenes at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Harry Grant was controversially sin-binned in the first half of Melbourne's 25-18 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night, with the incident a crucial turning point in the match. In what has since been dubbed 'the worst call ever', Grant was given his marching orders for making contact with Sharks five-eighth Daniel Atkinson's leg.

With the Storm up by six and with just under five minutes to go in the first half of the top-of-the-table clash, Atkinson went to put in a clearing kick from inside his own half. Grant ran towards the five-eighth to put pressure on him, only for the Sharks half to graze the Storm hooker's leg in his follow-through.

Harry Grant was sin binned in controversial scenes at AAMI Park on Saturday night. Image: Getty
Harry Grant was sin-binned in controversial scenes at AAMI Park on Saturday night. Image: Getty

As has become the rule in the NRL in 2024, any contact with a kicker's leg is penalised and this was no difference, even though by the time Atkinson's leg made contact with Grant, the Melbourne hooker wasn't even looking at him. But the ref pulled up the play, penalising Grant as boos rang out around AAMI Park.

But it was pandemonium when the referee went one step further and sent Grant to the sin bin. As the hooker left the field, commentator Dan Ginnane said Atkinson - a former Storm player - gave Grant "a little wink" as he left the ground.

The controversial moment was a turning point in the game. In the minute that followed, the Sharks scored their second try, with prop Oregon Kaufusi charging over right where Grant would have defended, with Atkinson adding the extras for a 12-12 scoreline at halftime.

And post-game, Grant said he was dumbfounded by the call. "I had no eyes for Atko or putting that type of pressure on, I was pulling myself away from dangerous contact and just clipped his leg," he said.

"I understand I put him in a dangerous position and I put our team under the pump and paid the price. Unfortunately, it cost us."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was also furious at the decision and said the NRL had laid down a new marker. "With any rules, all we've got is consistency so that's the mark now," the coach said. "You touch his leg, doesn't matter how hard, and you go to the bin."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Harry Grant of the Storm passes the ball during the round eight NRL match between Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park on April 25, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Harry Grant's sin binning was a turning point in the match.

The NRL world echoed much of the same, believing not only should it not have been a sin bin but shouldn't have been a penalty at all. Wally Lewis’ son, radio host Mitch Lewis wrote: “That Harry Grant sin-binning is one of the most embarrassing for the game I’ve ever seen.”

While SEN's Dominic Criniti said: "We might’ve just witnessed two of the all-time worst calls in NRL history, genuinely Harry Grant being sent to the bin could be the worst call ever."

Sports reporter Trent Masenhelder also weighed in saying: "That Harry Grant penalty and sin bin is an absolute disgrace. One of the worst decisions I have seen at a live sporting event. Just horrendous."

The Sharks' win, however, silenced the critics who claimed they didn't deserve their lofty position due to a favourable draw. The strong win over Melbourne also came without their star half Nicho Hynes, who was a late scratching with a calf injury.

The clash with Melbourne was their first against a top-four outfit in 2024 and after the match Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon said it showed his side is only getting better. "It's round 10 and we're just working on getting better," he said.

"There's some elite teams who have been up for a long time. We're working on getting better and there's so much more to come between now and the end of the season.


"Honestly, the amount of talk around it, I find it amazing - we're not walking around thinking we've won premierships and we've got the right to carry on and get ahead of ourselves. Those teams have been there and know what it's about and we're trying to figure that out on the fly." Cronulla's victory ended a run of five straight losses to Melbourne and also stopped the Storm from levelling a record of 15 successive victories at AAMI Park.

with AAP