Eight charged over Coal League brawl

Thirroul captain-coach Nathan Fien was sent to the sin bin for starting a fight against Wests. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Thirroul captain-coach Nathan Fien was sent to the sin bin for starting a fight against Wests. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER


Eight players from Wests and Thirroul face a nervous wait this week after the Illawarra Coal League match review committee issued contrary conduct charges in the wake of two ugly brawls that marred their match at Gibson Park on Saturday.

The board met on Monday night in the aftermath of the heated clash and manager of rugby league Chris Bannerman said the board took a a dim view of both incidents.

"In the brief discussions I've had with people so far this is something we're not going to tolerate," he said.

"This is probably one of the worst incidents of this kind we've seen for some time and there's going to be a line drawn in the sand.

"I think there'll be a few nervous people out there at the moment who may well have a case to answer in the coming days."

Bannerman said the second brawl, immediately after full-time in the match won 26-20 by Thirroul, was most concerning because it happened close to the fence and involved several players.

"If we hadn't had that last incident we'd have walked away pretty happy with the game and the way things were dealt with on the field," Bannerman said.

"It's a pretty disappointing situation when we've had a stupid incident after the final whistle that's sparked something bigger and some pretty poor behaviour from people around the game who should have known better.

"I don't believe any spectators became involved but when it gets that close to the fence it gets a bit concerning because we don't want spectators threatened in any way."

Bannerman was also disappointed with the actions of certain club staff that helped inflame the situation.

"There are a number of issues that will be considered regarding the second melee after the bell," he said.

"There were a few indiscretions from both sides that added fuel to the fire so we may well be looking at code of conduct breaches there."

The second melee followed an earlier incident midway through the second half when captain-coaches Nathan Fien (Thirroul) and Jason Ryles (Wests) had a heated exchange that saw several players from both sides become involved.

Referee Andrew Astill sent Fien and Ryles to the sin bin for their role in starting the fight, with Nick Mastro (Wests) and Andrew McCarthy (Thirroul) likely to face contrary conduct charges after being sent off for their role in the brawl.

"The players that were dismissed ran quite a distance to become involved and they both threw punches," Bannerman said.


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