Billy Slater escapes penalty for face-kick

MELISSA WOODS
Last updated 13:46 22/03/2013

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NRL superstar Billy Slater has escaped penalty for his mid-air boot in the face of an opponent during Thursday night's clash with Canterbury.

The Test and Melbourne fullback Slater sparked controversy and was put on report when his extended leg caught approaching Bulldogs prop David Klemmer in the chest and face as he flew through the air after catching a high ball.

However the match review panel on Friday laid no charges from the grand final sequel, which premiers Melbourne won 22-18 at AAMI Park to remain unbeaten after three rounds.

Slater had been put on report following advice from the video referee, who had described it as a suspected "act of foul play".

With 75 carry-over points from an incident in the previous week's match against North Queensland, Slater would have faced a suspension if charged and found guilty.

After the match, Storm coach Craig Bellamy was quick to defend his star.

"I can't control what the review committee's going to do. But to me ... it's pretty common sense what they should be doing," Bellamy said.

"You touch him in the air, you're going to be penalised. So I'm thinking if David wasn't that close to him, he wouldn't have copped his foot."

Storm skipper Cameron Smith was also strong in his defence of Slater and for a second straight week lashed what he believed were refereeing inconsistencies.

Slater was only free to play against the Bulldogs after taking an early plea for a dangerous contact charge from last week's win over North Queensland after he knocked out Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein.

Smith said there no reason for Slater to change his style of leading with his leg when he jumped.

"Now someone runs into him when he's in the air and suddenly he has to change it. I don't think that's right," Smith said.

"Before we ran out, David (Klemmer) knew that he's not allowed to attack blokes in the air.

"He put himself in that position. He hit Bill in the air."

Smith was also frustrated by an obstruction penalty during the Bulldogs game that resulted in a try by Cooper Cronk being disallowed.

Storm prop Bryan Norrie was ruled to have obstructed the Bulldogs defence earlier in the play.

When asked if he had a clear understanding of how games would be officiated, Smith said: "Clearly not ... I've got no idea".

"I'm not criticising referees here but I think we've got to use a bit of common sense when it comes to these rulings.

"Everyone at the ground could see that bloke that was involved in the so-called obstruction was no where near Cooper Cronk.

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"He's never going to get to him. They had plenty of defenders out there to stop him.

"What happens if you do a play from a sideline and someone gets checked 10 metres from one sideline and we score in the other corner? Is that going to be called back?

"I don't know where some of these calls come from. It's frustrating on the field. That's the best way I can describe it."

- AAP

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