James Roberts is facing a nervous wait after appearing to kick Ryan Simpkins in Brisbane’s fiery 44-28 NRL finals win over Gold Coast at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
While Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett did his best to hose down the incident, Gold Coast coach Neil Henry was left fuming after Roberts escaped punishment.
As the two tangled in the play-the-ball, Roberts appeared to kick Simpkins in the ribs with Alex Glenn scoring off a Ben Hunt grubber the next play.
Roberts was not put on report but the incident will face the scrutiny of the match review committee on Saturday.
The Titans remonstrated with the on-field officials, questioning why the play was not called back, however referee Gerard Sutton ruled it did not constitute a penalty.
“A player kicks a defender in the back, he has two goes at him, and they don’t do anything about it,” Henry said in an emotional post-match press conference.
However Bennett was adamant his charge had no case to answer.
“I honestly doubt that,” Bennett said when asked if Roberts could miss next week’s showdown with either North Queensland or Melbourne.
“That won’t come under scrutiny. I saw what he did but I’m just telling you, he’s never going to be charged.”
NRL referees boss Tony Archer also revealed that the bunker was unable to intervene in the incident because Roberts had struck out with his foot before he played the ball.
Under NRL rules, the video referees can review anything that happens during the play in which a try is scored, with the cut-off point being the play-the-ball.
In a quirk of the rules, had Roberts kicked Simpkins after he played the ball, the bunker could have gone back to review it and possibly taken the try off the Broncos.
“The check on the try starts at the point of the play the ball, so once the ball is clear,” Archer said.
“Otherwise you could go all the way back through a whole set and have a knock-on previously.
“In relation to the checking of the try, that’s the point they can go back to.”