Taukeiaho not guilty at NRL judiciary

The NRL's crackdown on high tackles has taken a hit, with Sydney Roosters forward Siosiua Taukeiaho found not guilty of a careless shot on Penrith playmaker Nathan Cleary.

In a watershed judiciary hearing at league headquarters in Sydney, a three-man panel needed barely 10 minutes to decide Taukeiaho's forearm to Cleary's head last Friday night was accidental not careless.

The verdict may not please NRL boss Andrew Abdo and ARLC Commission chairman Peter V'landys, with fans left to wonder if match officials are on the same page as judiciary panel members.

Tuesday night's case was the most controversial to reach the judiciary since the league's crackdown started during Magic Round six weeks ago.

While Taukeihao was only facing a fine, the not guilty outcome threatens to set a precedent after the NRL had determined the onus was on defenders to adjust in real time to ensure dangerous contact was never made to an attacking player's head or neck.

The NRL's judiciary prosecutor Peter McGrath argued it was evident enough that Cleary was already slipping and falling to the ground, offering Taukeihao sufficient time to pull out of his "wraparound" tackle not hit the Panthers captain with such force.

"Rather than adjust, Taukeihao goes through with that right arm and makes direct contact," McGrath said.

"In failing to adjust, he was not playing with the care that player Cleary is entitled to expect."

But Taukeihao's defence counsel Patrick Knowles somewhat astutely used an umbrella in the crowd as his key piece of evidence.

Using slow motion replays, Knowles pointed out to the panel that Cleary's head was at the same height as the umbrella until a split second before contact was made with Taukeihao's forearm.

"It's a fraction of a second. And in that fraction of a second, Cleary's head has fallen a considerable amount," Knowles said.

"His (Cleary's) left knee is already on the ground at the point of contact ... so he's fallen a very long way in a very short period of time."

Knowles also contended that in a contact sport sometimes contact is made accidentally despite all care being taken.

The panel of former star players Bob Lindner, Sean Garlick and Tony Puletua agreed.

The victory was a double win for Taukeihao and the Roosters, with the former Tongan and New Zealand international having already been fined once this season.

Had he copped another hit to the hip pocket, Taukeihao would have faced a suspension for any next offence.

A third suspension from his past five games is what St George Illawarra winger Mikaele Ravalawa is facing for yet another shoulder charge.

Ravalawa was unsuccessful in challenging his latest charge for his 77th-minute hit on Canberra's Elliott Whitehead on Saturday and copped a four-match ban.

After already being suspended twice this season for shoulder charges, the serial offender will miss St George Illawarra's key games against the Warriors, Manly, Gold Coast and South Sydney as the Dragons walk the finals tightrope.