Cessnock's Paul Carter and Maitland's Dan Tilse have both been handed hefty bans in the wake of an ugly brawl in the dying seconds of last Saturday's Coalfields clash.
Tilse accepted a two week ban, but Carter paid a far heavier price receiving a five week ban after pleading guilty at the Newcastle Rugby League judiciary on Wednesday night to a charge of using offensive language towards a referee.
Carter, whose early guilty plea saw his suspension reduced from 10 weeks, also received a one-week ban after taking an early guilty plea to a low-grade high tackle and will not be eligible to play until Cessnock’s final round encounter against Central Newcastle.
The Goannas will consider an appeal.
It was a bitter blow for the Goannas, who will also be without front-rower Kurt Warden for at least four weeks and potentially the remainder of the season depending on the outcome of a challenge on the grading of his charge at a judiciary hearing next Wednesday.
Warden will argue the grading of a medium striking charge against Tilse should be reduced to low as he was acting in self-defence. If successful his ban would be reduced to four weeks, but if not an additional week could be added.
Tilse’s good record spared him from a harsher sentence, with past offences coming back to haunt Warden with loadings from those contributing an extra 400 points to the base loading of 400.
The Goannas received some good news from Wednesday night’s judiciary hearing with the panel dismissing a low-grade throwing charge against Joe Bromage.
Cessnock coach Al Lantry described Carter’s spray at a match official as “completely out of character” and born out of frustration with a controversial call that didn’t go Cessnock’s way.
“He has been absolutely outstanding for us this season and I’m sure if you asked any referee in the competition, they would agree that he has a good relationship with all of them and speaks really well to them both during and at the end of games.
“I’m not aware of exactly what he said but I’m sure he regrets it. It was heat of the moment stuff and really out of character from what I’ve seen from him this season.”