Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma has been accused by Cronulla’s Wade Graham of biting as the visitors secured a come-from-behind 22-20 NRL win over the Sharks at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night.
With five ex-Tigers in the Sharks line-up, there is no love lost between the two sides, and emotions boiled over on several occasions in a brutal but action-packed affair, where four tries scored within nine minutes blew the game open early in the second half.
Paul Gallen and Michael Gordon crossed for back-to-back tries after the break to put the Sharks in front 20-10, but the Tigers came roaring back, with playmakers Luke Brooks and Robbie Farah orchestrating the spirited revival.
It ends a two-match losing streak for the Tigers who are a different side with Farah back from injury, while the Sharks remain anchored to the bottom of the ladder.
The Tigers have a potentially major concern with Nofoaluma however, who will be examined for an alleged bite.
Sharks forward Wade Graham was penalised for pushing Nofoaluma in the face midway through the first half, but got up complaining to referee Gavin Morris that he’d been bitten on the face.
Graham pointed to his mouth and remonstrated with the referee, before Morris acknowledged that the complaint was on the record.
Television replays were inconclusive, but if the match review committee find there is something in the incident, Nofoaluma can expect a long stint on the sidelines.
Canterbury prop James Graham was suspended for 12 matches for biting Melbourne fullback Billy Slater’s ear in the 2012 grand final.
Tigers skipper Farah set-up the go-ahead try for Tigers centre Chris Lawrence in the 57th minute with a sharp dummy-half run, and looks right to go for NSW on May 28 in State of Origin I in a successful return from the elbow he dislocated in round six.
In another positive boost for Blues coach Laurie Daley, Farah’s counterpart and NSW captain Gallen delivered a monster performance for Cronulla.
Twelve penalties were blown in the first half, as both sides showed they were more interested in niggle than discipline.
Tries to Nofoaluma and Pat Richards saw the Tigers to the break with a 10-8 lead, but Cronulla broke the game open after halftime when a short-ball from Todd Carney in his return from a hamstring problem, put a rampaging Gallen over.
Gallen was involved again two and a half minutes later when he popped a ball to a flying Gordon, although replays suggested the play should have been called back for a forward pass.
The Tigers re-found their mojo when Brooks put back-rower Cory Paterson through a yawning gap to slash the margin to four and after Lawrence crossed, Wests held on for 23 minutes.