Ryan Matterson has avoided a crusher tackle charge that would have ruled him out of Parramatta's final against Melbourne largely because he fell onto Asu Kepaoa rather than establishing a grip that could pin the Tigers winger's head to his chest.
Matterson will be free to play against the Storm – the first rematch since claims of milking and verbal sparring back and forth emerged when they last clashed in August – if he takes an early guilty plea to a grade-one charge of dangerous contact with the head or neck.
The back-rower's contact with Kepaoa had most observers expecting a crusher tackle charge given the NRL's recent crackdown that led to grade-one charges being bolstered to attract a minimum one-game ban.
The match review committee deemed Matterson failed to show his required "duty of care" in the tackle and was still worthy of a dangerous contact charge.
But NRL.com understands the lack of a grip or hold from Matterson on Kepaoa, and the fact his head wasn't pinned to his chest in the tackle meant he avoided a crusher tackle charge.
It was also pointed out that crusher tackles are typically more controlled and that a player's head is kept in a dangerous position for longer, with Matterson's contact viewed more as a clumsy effort.
Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Eels
Matterson's reprieve comes after Parramatta prop Kane Evans labelled the Storm "salty" for claims Eels players had stayed down to earn penalties in their last clash.
Evans believes the Storm would require more than that to be motivated ahead of their finals grudge match on Saturday night.
The Eels secured third spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder following a 28-24 win over Wests Tigers but the attention quickly turned to the Storm after the two clubs clashed over milking crusher tackle claims in August.
Wests Tigers farewell Marshall and Lawrence
An irate Craig Bellamy walked out on a post-match media conference within two minutes after disagreeing with Brad Arthur's comments his players didn't deliberately stay down for crusher tackles.
It left Evans to dissect the match the following week with the big prop declaring the heavyweight Storm outfit were just unhappy they lost 14-0 on the night.
"I did say they were a bit salty, but it doesn't take away from them," Evans said on Saturday night after the win over the Tigers.
"I think after they were a bit upset with the calls but either way you just have to win the game.
"You can complain about the refs' call if you want, but it's what happens on the field. They might use that as motivation but my motivation is my goals I set and we set as a team.
"Some players and teams use the media stuff to get them up but I think the fire has to come from within and we've got a fire that is burning and we want to win the comp.
"They are a great team and it's going to be the biggest test of our year next week."
The bitter aftermath of the last clash between the two clubs is only scraping the surface of history after the Victorian club knocked the Eels out of last year's competition with a 32-0 drubbing at AAMI Park.
It follows an 18-16 finals win to the Storm in 2017 and the 2009 grand final when the Storm were later stripped of the title due to salary cap breaches.
"I forgot about that, that did hurt last year and it still burns now," Evans said of last season's exit.
"You don't get many chances to win the comp so I will always remember that for the rest of my life. That's probably going to be used for our motivation. They came out of the blocks, we didn't start well. They scored two straight up and that was hard to leave the comp like that.
"[But] we're a way better team [now]. I think like any team if we deliver on the day we can win.
"We struggled with that last year and didn't execute on the day and we got pumped."
After starting for Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo in recent weeks to give the pair of big boppers a breather leading into the finals, Evans is resigned to a switch back to the bench in the playoffs before his move to the Warriors next season.
"It is hard [to leave] but the club is in a better position now and I think I am in a better position now for myself," he said.
"I wouldn't change anything. I am leaving with a brain full of knowledge from what I have learned. My first year I was shit as. I came with my broken arm and I was lucky they didn't get rid of me actually."