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Marshall avoids ban, cleared for Storm match

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 08:45 28/08/2012
Benji Marshall
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MAKING A MOVE: Benji Marshall is happy to return to five-eighth after an experimental season at halfback.

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Wests Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall is free to play in Saturday night's must-win clash with Melbourne after pleading guilty to a dangerous contact charge.

Marshall received the minimum grade-one charge after it was found that his second-half hit on Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in Sunday's 44-20 loss was careless.

The tackle was similar to the one Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello had attempted on Canberra's Josh Dugan last week, but any contact with Waerea-Hargreaves's head was minimal.

The match review committee last week deemed Minichiello's tackle to be reckless and charged him with striking, but he beat a three-week ban by convincing the judiciary that his actions were careless.

As a result, the match review committee was advised that players involved in similar incidents should be charged with dangerous contact as there is no requirement to prove intent, unlike with striking offences.

A grade-one dangerous contact charge carries a base penalty of 100 demerit points, which equates to a one-match ban, but by pleading guilty Marshall receives a 25 per cent discount and is free to play against the Storm on Saturday night.

To qualify for the finals, the Tigers need to win the Leichhardt Oval clash and hope either Brisbane or Canberra lose against Penrith and the Warriors respectively.

Panthers prop Sam McKendry can also escape suspension by pleading guilty to a grade-two careless high tackle on Gold Coast forward Ben Ridge during last Saturday night's win at Centrebet Stadium.

Penrith centre Michael Jennings was not charged over a tackle on Titans skipper Scott Prince after replays showed he made contact with the side of his neck and shoulder - not his nose.

Prince was bleeding profusely after the tackle but it is believed he had already suffered a bloody nose and there may have been slight contact from Penrith five-eighth Lachlan Coote that restarted the bleeding.

Meanwhile, NRL referees' co-coach Stuart Raper has been forced to admit match officials missed a shepherd by Brisbane's Corey Parker against Manly.

Raper also said a try by Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce against Wests Tigers ''could'' have been disallowed for an obstruction.

The incidents occurred after Raper and Bill Harrigan last week attempted to end confusion about the obstruction rule by producing separate videos for the NRL website and coaches.

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Parker ran behind a decoy runner, before passing to Jack Reed, who then then kicked into the in-goal area to gain a repeat set in the second half of the Broncos' loss to the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Friday.

''This was an obstruction and it was missed by the officials,'' Raper told the NRL website.

''We have reminded all officials about their responsibilities in calling these types of obstructions when they see it.''

- FFX Aus

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