Controversy erupts over NRL star’s matchwinning moment

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had a monster of a game for Canberra in its win over the Roosters on Friday night but some believe he was lucky to get away with a try-saving tackle that left Roosters fans feeling robbed.

The fullback battled through painful leg cramps late in the semi-final but was one of the Green Machine’s best in their 22-18 victory, running for 276m — the most of any player on the ground.

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Nicoll-Klokstad’s biggest play arrived in the 66th minute when he came across in cover to bundle Josh Morris into touch a metre out from the tryline, when the Roosters centre looked certain to score after taking advantage of an overlap on the left edge.

The Raiders were leading 16-12 at the time but had Morris crossed, could have found themselves down by two.

Commentators were in awe of the try-saver but the Roosters were filthy, believing the tackle was high. A dusty Morris clutched his head in pain after contact as he lay on the turf and captain Jake Friend blew up at the referee, going straight over to the whistleblower to complain.

“How is that not a high tackle?” Friend asked Ashley Klein. “He’s got him around the neck.”

When a replay of the incident was played on the big screen at the SCG, the Roosters-dominant crowd blew up, booing loudly.

They didn’t have an ally in former Wallabies star Quade Cooper, though. The rugby union player lauded the way play was allowed to continue for what he deemed a fair play.

“I love our game but that tackle on one of the Morris twins in union would have resulted in a red card and 6-8 weeks on the sideline,” Cooper tweeted. “Rugby league no penalty or stoppage and the game goes on,” he added with a clapping hands emoji.

Daily Telegraph photographer Phil Hillyard captured the moment perfectly and posed the question to his Twitter followers about whether the Raiders should have been punished.

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Match saving tackle by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to stop Josh Morris from scoring knocking the Roosters out of the Premiership race and denying them an historic 3-peat. But was the tackle high? Raiders22-Roosters18 in an epic Elimination Final @telegraph_sport #NRLRoostersRaiders pic.twitter.com/5XSB4hgdrT

Racing presenter Tim Carroll backed Friend, tweeting: “Head high tackle around the neck on Morris in the act of trying to score a try should have been called. Horrendous to miss that. JWH got pulled upon for exactly the same tackle in the middle. They got that one wrong.”

Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane said upon viewing the replay: “One of the great finals tackles, but is it legal?”

Talking to Channel 9 post-match about his tackle, Nicoll-Klokstad said: “I was just hoping for the best and luckily I got a piece of him.”

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