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Togatuki free to play in NRLW grand final

Sydney Roosters forward Sarah Togatuki is free to play in Sunday's NRLW grand final after successfully gaining a downgrade for a careless high tackle on Broncos lock Lavinia Gould.

A relieved and overwhelmed Togatuki almost broke down in tears after the verdict was read out before she was greeted by family and friends outside where they all began to cheer.

Togatuki pleaded guilty to the careless high tackle charge on Gould but sought a downgrade, meaning the 24-year-old will escape suspension and take her place in the side for her third NRLW grand final appearance.

Togatuki's legal representative James McLeod successfully argued there wasn't much wrong with the Roosters forward's technique in the fourth minute tackle on Gould and that her execution was "sound".

"There was one point of shortfall, there was a small degree of carelessness," McLeod said.

"We say high contact was made between her chest and ball carrier. She made a slight error in her execution. This is at the lowest end of the scale and it justifies this to be a grade one.

"She only marginally got the tackle wrong. It was a wrapping tackle, a ball and all. The Broncos player was in running position and her knees were significantly bent which contributed to the contact.

"It’s not direct first contact with the right shoulder. Nor at any stage does she not lead with the right shoulder. There’s no lazy arm, there’s no clinched fist.

"It’s a very slight degree of carelessness."

NRL counsel Lachlan Gyles argued the level of force and risk of injury was moderate, not low, and that Gould was vulnerable when Togatuki contacted her high, however the judiciary panel disagreed.

The judiciary panel consisted of Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner and Tarsha Gale.

"Gould stayed high and didn’t duck into the tackle," Gyles said.

"Her height remains a constant level."

Togatuki, a foundation player at the club who made her NRLW debut in 2018, has played in all six matches for the Roosters this season, scoring three tries and averaging 109 metres.

 

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