Pauli escapes NRL ban for Soward hit

Parramatta forward Pauli Pauli has avoided suspension for his late hit on Penrith playmaker Jamie Soward after submitting an early guilty plea.

Pauli was handed a grade-one dangerous contact charge by the NRL match review committee on Monday for the hit that forced Soward from the field in the Eels’ 26-20 defeat of the Panthers on Friday night.

League great Andrew Johns described the 20-year-old’s action a “cheap shot” as he led renewed calls for the game to do more to protect playmakers.

Soward later returned to the field but may be out for a month with a shoulder injury sustained in the hit.

The charge’s low grading coupled with Pauli’s previous good record ensures he escapes a ban, making him available for Parramatta’s home clash with North Queensland next Monday.

Gold Coast forward Ryan James also avoided suspension with an early plea following his grade-one dangerous contact charge for his high heavy contact that knocked out South Sydney captain Greg Inglis on Saturday.

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