Tigers wing Nofoaluma denies biting allegation
Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma has denied biting Cronulla forward Wade Graham, as the visitors secured a come-from-behind 22-20 NRL win over the Sharks at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night.
With five ex-Tigers in the Sharks line-up, emotions boiled over on several occasions in a brutal but action-packed affair, with the first-half biting allegation the biggest flashpoint.
The Tigers ultimately snapped a two-game losing streak to get their top-eight charge back on track, roaring home from 20-10 down, with Robbie Farah and Luke Brooks orchestrating the brilliant revival.
Farah made a successful return from a dislocated elbow which had kept him out since round six, while Paul Gallen produced a massive performance for the Sharks - in a double boost for NSW on the eve of State of Origin.
Cronulla say no official complaint has been made against Nofoaluma and Graham refused to comment post-match - with respective captains Gallen and Farah also claiming there was "nothing in it".
However, Graham was none too pleased on the field when the incident occurred midway through the first half, asking referee Gavin Morris, "why would I react like that?"
Morris replied: "What's the allegation?"
Graham then said "He bit me on the head."
The NRL don't necessarily need an official complaint to pursue the matter with the match review committee, however without video evidence any charge would be difficult and replays on Fox Sports seemed inconclusive.
Canterbury prop James Graham copped a 12 match suspension after biting Melbourne's Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final, even though the Storm didn't make an official complaint.
Nofoaluma - who wore a mouthguard during the game - told AAP post-match that any contact between his open mouth and Graham's head was completely accidental and says he never "clenched".
"I remember running and as I made contact with him my mouth happened to be open and as I came down I didn't clench or anything," he said.
"I'm confident I didn't and whatever he thought I have no idea.
"I couldn't really do nothing and it's one of those things.
"I don't think there's any dramas."
The game exploded early in the second half, with four tries being scored inside nine minutes.
It was the Sharks who came up with the first two through Gallen and Michael Gordon to assume control, but in the blink of an eye Cronulla's defence opened up and the Tigers hit back through Cory Paterson and Chris Lawrence.
Sharks playmaker Todd Carney, who strained his hamstring again early in the match, was unable to execute when the game was on the line, as the Tigers held on for 23 minutes at the death to leave Cronulla still languishing at the bottom of the ladder.
"It's satisfying for the players to show their grit," said Tigers coach Mick Potter.
"Other teams might panic but I thought our players kept their composure."
Sharks coach Peter Sharp described the loss as heartbreaking and blamed it on defensive errors.
"It's pretty tough to take, leading by 10 with not too long to go. But, again, the same old story - they're trying their socks off, trying really hard, but things aren't happening," he said.
Wests Tigers 22 (C Lawrence D Nofoaluma C Paterson P Richards tries P Richards 3 goals) Cronulla Sharks 20 (P Gallen M Gordon S Tagataese tries M Gordon 4 goals) at Remondis Stadium. Referee: Gavin Morris, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 15,86