Jordan Rapana dodges ban, Josh Papalii cops a week

Jasper Bruce |

Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana dodged a ban for putting illegal pressure on a kicker.
Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana dodged a ban for putting illegal pressure on a kicker.

Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana has escaped suspension after becoming the latest NRL player scrutinised for putting illegal pressure on a kicker.

But teammate Josh Papalii wasn’t so lucky, receiving a one-match ban for the hip-drop tackle that left Viliame Kikau in agony during the Raiders’ defeat of Canterbury.

With five minutes remaining in the first game of Magic Round, Rapana went on report for colliding with Bulldogs hooker Reed Mahoney, who had put up a chip kick and broken through the Raiders defence.

Replays showed an airborne Rapana had struck Mahoney with his leg after the hooker kicked, knocking him to the ground. 

Rapana was permitted to remain on the field which denied the Bulldogs the chance to chase the game with a numerical advantage.

But coach Cameron Ciraldo refused to blame the lack of a sin-bin for his side’s eventual 24-20 loss.

“We had 36 tackles inside their 20 and didn’t come up with anything there, either,” he said.

“We have to fix our mentality towards attack, more than getting more opportunities down there. That was the major problem.”

On Saturday morning, the match review committee cited Rapana for grade-one dangerous contact (tripping).

The veteran can accept a $1,000 fine as an early guilty plea, or risk paying $1,500 by pleading his case at the judiciary.

The NRL has been quick to penalise players for putting pressure on kickers this year.

The ugliest shots have resulted in player’s legs being taken out after kicking the ball with Penrith playmaker Brad Schnedier and South Sydney’s Lachlan Ilias both injured by similar moves.

But on Friday night, Rapana’s leg wrapped around Mahoney’s waist rather than his leg. The fullback downplayed the severity of the shot at full-time.

“It’s kind of a hard one because I was kind of going for the charge-down,” he said.

“As soon as you slow it, start breaking it right down, it’s easy to pick out things (that could be penalised).”

Experienced Raiders prop Papalii is set to miss next Saturday’s home clash against the Sydney Roosters after a shot on Kikau that landed him in the sin bin.

Just before haf-time, Papalii and Kaeo Weekes brought Kikau down in a two-man tackle that crushed the second-rower’s left ankle.

Papalii has been charged with grade-two dangerous contact and risks missing a second game, against the Dolphins, by taking his case to the judiciary.

Kikau left the field but returned to finish the game.

“It was a bit scary there for a second but glad he’s all right,” said Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo.