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Bulldogs question controversial send-off

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18th April, 2021
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Canterbury have been left scratching their heads over referee Ashley Klein’s decision to send off Jack Hetherington in their round-six loss to North Queensland.

Hetherington’s swinging arm tackle on Valentine Holmes in the 55th minute was deemed as dangerous play by Klein and he didn’t hesitate to send the Bulldogs prop to the sheds early.

He became the first player to be sent off in an NRL match in this year, with Chad Townsend the last for his high shot on Kalyn Ponga in round 17, 2020.

Canterbury coach Trent Barrett indicated post-match he didn’t believe they should’ve been down a man.

“I didn’t think it was intentional, obviously caught him high but it wasn’t an intentional shot from Jack,” he said.

“He’s just hung his arm out there and Val (Holmes) is OK so, hopefully we’ll be okay.

Surprisingly, playing one man down brought the Bulldogs back into the clash, running in two tries before North Queensland’s Mitchell Dunn iced the game in the final minutes.

But Hetherington could face an extended spell on the sidelines as the lock has a horror record with the NRL judiciary.

The 24-year-old has made 28 appearances in the NRL with five suspensions leading to him missing a 10 games.

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His poor record may add significant weighting to the decision of the judiciary when he fronts them this week.

Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak said the team lifted when Hetherington departed but thought the decision was a soft call.

“I get ten in the bin, maybe … but for a send-off come on,” Watene-Zelezniak told AAP.

“I’m not going to get into the politics of it but I mean, if he (Holmes) went off with a head knock and was concussed, then, yeah.

“Ten minutes, maybe, but it was a bit harsh, but like I said, we started playing better so we’ll take confidence out of that.”

Watene-Zelezniak led the way with 234 run metres in Sunday’s clash and sparked a lift from his side with his tenacious runs from the back.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalise in the final third with basic errors costing them a shot at their first win of the season.

“The confidence that we can take out of of tonight is that we played well with 12 players and we can do the same with 13,” Watene-Zelezniak said.

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“It’s not ideal going zero and six, I hate losing and it kills me, but it is what it is.

“The game was there for the taking and we just didn’t ice a few key moments.”

© AAP