Parramatta prop Mitchell Allgood has told Eels coach Ricky Stuart that he punched Manly centre Steve Matai during a violent end to Monday night’s contest because he felt he was about to be struck first.
Allgood will face heavy scrutiny by the NRL match review committee on Tuesday after being sin-binned over an incident which resulted in Matai having to be restrained by teammates.
Just weeks after the NRL’s crackdown on fighting, Allgood’s actions – in punching Matai, who had approached him after a swinging arm on Jamie Buhrer – were criticised by Stuart. But Stuart also suggested that Matai inflamed the situation by marching towards Allgood after the tackle on Buhrer.
Matai was left with blood coming out of a mouth wound and, as Allgood was marched by the officials, had to be restrained by teammates, who were trying to avoid a repeat of the infamous Glenn Stewart-Adam Blair sideline stoush at the same ground.
A referee was heard saying “be smart Steve” after the final whistle, while it is understood Matai had to held back by teammates again in the Manly dressing room later.
“It’s disappointing, with what’s happened,” Stuart said after the match. “It’s not in the game now. You’re not allowed to do it. Steve didn’t need to be there, and Mitch didn’t need to do what he did. I’ve already spoken to him, and he thought he was going to get hit. So he reacted. But it was disappointing to see it happen. I don’t want to condone that sort of behaviour.”
Asked if Matai inflamed the situation, Stuart said: “He didn’t need to be there, and my bloke didn’t need to throw the punch.”
But when asked if he felt Matai should be binned too, Stuart said: “I’ve got more to worry about than who was going to the bin.”
Allgood was gagged by club officials afterwards, while Matai would not comment on the incident.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey would not be drawn, calling the 73rd minute incident “a bit of a fight, a bit of a dust-up”.
“I’m sure they (the match review committee) will sort it out,” he said.
But he said he did not consider bringing the clearly angry Matai off. “Players have got to take some ownership out there,” he said. “Stevie was better off staying out there and getting on with the game, playing with his teammates.”
The late violence took much off the focus off a strong performance by Manly, who won their first match in more than a month – but a poor one by the Eels, who suffered their sixth straight loss.
“At this level, you’ve got to play for 80 minutes, or you’re going to have those blow-outs, and that’s exactly what I just spoke to the boys about then,” Stuart said. “They are trying. They are really trying hard. I’m happy with that effort. We’ve just got to make a pact that we keep turning up to training each week, with the will to prepare. And they are doing that – I can’t be negative about that . . . But we’ve got some really fundamental errors in defence which cost you.”
The match could be costly for Manly too. Tom Symonds suffered a broken thumb, George Rose an ankle injury, while Glenn Stewart received an accidental poke in the eye from teammate Daly CherryEvans.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.