‘Something happened’: Luke Brooks costs Sea Eagles controversial try in Jarome Luai scrap

A controversial try angered Manly after the Panthers won 32-22 in Penrith on Sunday afternoon.

The Sea Eagles ran out of the blocks with three tries to one and Tommy Talau’s hat-trick extended their lead to 12-4 by the 26th minute before the Panthers hit back.

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But with 20 minutes remaining, a controversial moment divided the fanbase after the Panthers scored despite Jarome Luai and Luke Brooks making some pushes.

Manly were still in the match at 22-12 but Liam Henry slotted in his second NRL try to eventually lead 28-12.

Immediately, Fox League commentators wondered if Luai had obstructed Brooks, leaving a hole for Daine Laurie to run through and get Henry over the line.

But Andrew Voss quickly changed his tune.

“Brooks went on – I can’t try Penrith,” Voss said. “You can say he’s denied him space – he has no interest in taking up space.

“If Brooks shows he is trying to leave, I will try Penrith. But he’s trying to get on with it.”

He added that “common sense says to try”.

And as far as Voss was concerned, common sense prevailed when Bunker approved the quad.

Cooper Cronk said it was hard to say who started the push and agreed it was the right call.

Speaking on Channel 9, Cameron Smith said: “He had a chance to get out of it, didn’t he? You could just play on, Luke Brooks.”

Andrew Johns said: “You don’t see that with Luke Brooks at all, none of that silly stuff. While Jarome, he loves it.

Smith said it showed kids at home that they needed to “play the whistle.”

The Sea Eagles were far from satisfied as referee Gerard Sutton told Brooks he should have gone off script while captain Daly Cherry-Evans asked if he had seen “what he did”.

What he meant was Luai allegedly massaging Ben Trbojevic’s face on the floor, with Cherry-Evans saying: “That’s what started it”.

After the game, Seibold said Brooks was “not a recognized scrapper” before Cherry-Evans chimed in.

“I think he saw something there and he just stood up for his teammate,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I don’t think he got the bait and I liked what he did there. I don’t think he tried. Something was there.”

Asked if he believed the Panthers would have scored if only Brooks had returned to the defensive line, Cherry-Evans said, “I’m not sure.”

Seibold said he’s “standing up for his guy,” adding that Brooks has been “a really honest player for a really long time.”

Seibold and Cherry-Evans declined to say what was said, but it must have been brutal for a man like Brooks to react.

“Something happened on the floor with Benny Trbojevic and he was looking out for his teammate,” Seibold said.

“If you dig a little deeper and take a good look at what happened there, Brooksy is not a fighter.

“They scored in the end, so they were too smart for us.”

When asked about the incident, Luai returned the ball to Manly’s box.

“Until they say something about (what was said), it’s their business,” Luai said.

“It was a bit of a feeling. It’s just the competitor in me.”

In the court of public opinion, the verdict was quite divided.

“I can’t give that. Luai is clearly on the defensive. What a joke,” wrote one fan.

“What’s the trial with Brooks being held back by Luai? What is the bunker looking at?” added another.

But on the flip side, another fan posted: “Luke Brooks chose to fight Luai rather than defend LMAOOOO.”

Another commented: “Luke Brooks got involved in a stinker and cost his team a try. Brilliant.”

It was a stunning game dominated by the outside backs.

For the Panthers, Brian To’o kicked 261m from 18 runs and three tries, Sunia Turuva kicked twice and ran for 229m while Daine Laurie had a line break, two line break assists and a try assist for a whopping 344m. of 26 runs.

For Manly, Talau finished with four tries, while Jason Saab added one himself, both running over 100m, while center Reuben Garrick had a team-high 209m for the Sea Eagles.

Laurie has been huge for the Panthers in the absence of regular fullback Dylan Edwards.

“It was my best game of the year,” he said.

“I was on the bench a lot, so when I got the chance I had to take advantage.

“Dylan is out so I had some big shoes to fill. I wanted to build momentum for my team and I tried to do my best and play like Dylan.”

Coach Ivan Cleary praised how Laurie made the most of his opportunity to play in the No. 1 play the full 80 minutes.

“He was outstanding today.” Cleary said.

“I’m really happy for him. He is one of us here and he came back looking for an opportunity and he was patient.”

It was a difficult afternoon for the Sea Ealges as full back Haumole Olakau’atu did not return after leaving the field in the first half with anxiety in the swords.

With Matt Jones, NCA Newswire

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