Mitchell’s tackle on Josh Dugan during last year’s finals series was hit hard by Ghabar, who tried to argue that the Roosters star used excessive force by intentionally kicking his legs out and slamming Dugan to the turf.
“[Mitchell’s crusher] is very dangerous conduct, bordering on reckless conduct, yet that is a grade one,” Ghabar said.
“There is more force here than Fifita’s tackle yet that is a grade one. If that’s a grade one and he was found guilty at the panel, then Fifita’s must also be a grade one.”
Ghabar argued that in contrast to the Pangai Junior, Inglis and Mitchell tackles, Fifita did not use excessive force in his crusher on Raiders forward Ryan Sutton.
Fifita said he “misjudged” the haste with which Sutton was to regain his feet after being tackled by Sharks hooker Brayden Brailey.
“I was just looking after Brails. I misjudged my control in the tackle and was trying to slow it down,” Fifita said.
“As you can see in the video, I let the head go straight away when I noticed it was there. I misjudged it.”
But Fifita’s argument that he was trying to simply slow down the play the ball was quickly dismissed by NRL judiciary chair Geoff Bellew.
He instructed the three man judiciary panel to take no notice of that part of Fifita’s defence.
NRL counsel Anthony Lo Surdo argued that the grading was justified on a few different fronts.
Firstly and most importantly, Lo Surdo pointed out that there was no need for Fifita to enter the tackle after Brailey had wrapped Sutton up by the legs.
“There was no need for him to join the tackle again,” Lo Surdo said. “When joining the tackle he loses his feet and his whole body weight comes down on Sutton’s head.
“The tackle had all but come to an end and there was no need for the player to use the force as he did.”
There was better news for Warriors forward Adam Blair.
He was found not guilty of a grade one dangerous contact charge for a late hit on Titans playmaker Tyrone Roberts and is free to line up for the Kiwis on Saturday.
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.