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After a clear mismatch in expectations last round, head of football Graham Annesley said the NRL was working to ensure "more alignment" between referees, the Bunker and the match review committee regarding the treatment of foul play.

Annesley on Monday conceded "there was clearly a mismatch between the expectations of the NRL and the [ARL] Commission and some of the incidents that we saw over the course of the weekend".

"We will be further reinforcing what the expectations are of the NRL and the Commission."

The most controversy stemmed from Friday night's Eels-Roosters clash when the Bunker didn't react appropriately to foul play from Marata Niukore and Dylan Brown in the same sequence.

Brown and Niukore on report for separate incidents

Niukore struck James Tedesco high as he passed the ball before Brown slid into Drew Hutichson with his knees as the Roosters playmaker went to score a try.

The Bunker reviewed the incident, ruling a no-try but awarding a penalty for Niukore's tackle while Brown initially went unpunished. He was placed on report after half-time but it was too late for the Roosters to use a free interchange for Hutchison.

Lead Bunker official Steve Chiddy was stood down for the remainder of the round in the fallout.

Episode 11 - Todd Payten

"Where not only poor judgement has applied but also where standard processes haven't been followed, then there has to be some consequences for that," Annesley said.

"At an absolute minimum, the players should have been sent to the sin bin because that then activates the potential for the 18th man.

"In the case of the tackle on James Tedesco, he didn't leave the field, he continued to play on, so it wouldn't have applied in that case, but in the other case it could have applied.

"The incidents themselves, they should have been placed on report and sent to the sin bin. Sending off as the final step is also something that could have been considered.

"There would have been no complaints from anyone in this building [Rugby League Central] had they taken the option in one or both of the incidents."

Annesley sent a letter last week to officials, club and players about the "minimal tolerance" for avoidable contact with the head and neck.

In what Annesley believes is an unwanted record, "certainly in recent times", there were 14 charges from the weekend's matches – eight of those involving some contact to the head or neck.

And after nine rounds in 2021, there have been 20 weeks of suspension issued for head or neck contact – a 60 percent increase compared to the same time last season.

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However, the number of relevant incidents reviewed by the match review committee has dropped by 15 percent.

Annesley claimed the figures show the match review committee have appropriately "reset their bar" to punish offenders more harshly while players are mostly abiding by the duty of care.

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"We just need to get the referees and the Bunker officials on the same page as the match review committee and the expectations of management," he said.

He added the NRL's "objective is to, as much as possible, eliminate contact with the head and neck" in a similar fashion to the way they've made spear tackles and fighting rarities.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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