Despite an obvious attack, on the part of Geoff Bellew, Justin Hodges has beaten a grade one dangerous throw charge and will be taking the field this weekend in the NRL Premiership grand finale.
Despite Aiden Guerra admitting to the judiciary that he jumped into the dangerous position to earn his side a penalty, Bellew did all he could to blame Hodges.
“He (Guerra) came here and spoke to the truth,” said Hodges.
“I didn’t ask him to come here and lie. He came here and told the truth.
“I said (to Guerra) after the charge that this is the way I felt about the tackle and if you feel the same you can come (and testify in my defence).”
Guerra did feel the same way. And he did testify in Hodges defence, claiming he milked the penalty by launching himself past the legal position for a tackle.
Asked how he hoped to win the penalty, Guerra answered, “by going above the horizontal – probably not the smartest decision.
“I thought there was a chance to gain a penalty, nothing was going our way. My aim was clear.”
Guerra admitted he “wasn’t thinking about the repercussions, more about the momentum of the game. I was in control of my actions.”
When he was challenged about the dangerousness of the action Guerra replied: “I am still able-bodied.”
Hodges stuck to his story, denying any role in Guerra’s head going into the ground.
But NRL judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew was like a dog with a bone and interjected several times.
“I grabbed the leg to stop his momentum,” said Hodges.
“He jumped out of my hands. I felt him jump. I knew he was going down, so I let go. I turned to the ref and said ‘he jumped.’”
Bellew went fishing: “Did you apply any force to Guerra’s landing?”
Guerra, “Was Guerra placed in a dangerous position?”
Hodges: “Not by me.”
Bellew became frustrated at this answer. Despite it being true, it wasn’t the answer he sought. Hodges admitted Guerra did go past the horizontal, but stuck to his story that he had no part in doing it.
Eventually the judiciary panel of Bronson Harrison, Chris McKenna, and Royce Ayliffe took 10 minutes to acquit Hodges.
Upon release of the news the Broncos went from $2 outsiders to $1.85 favourites.
Though anybody who knows the two sides will tell you the game is on a knife-edge.