BRISBANE Roar midfielder Jacob Pepper has escaped sanction for a tackle on Argentine import Pato Rodriguez that Jets coach Ernie Merrick has labelled “horrendous”.
Rodriguez is nursing a bruised ankle and was unable to train on Monday after a 54th-minute challenge from Pepper in Newcastle’s 1-0 win at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Merrick contacted A-League officials to express his disapproval and was waiting to learn on Monday afternoon if the review panel would charge Pepper.
The MRP ruled that there was no case to overturn the on-field ruling of Jonathan Barreiro, supported by the game-day Video Assistant Referee.
Barreiro did not even award a free kick against Pepper, let alone punish him with a yellow card.
“These are the tackles that we're trying to get rid of," Merrick said after training.
“We don't want to lose our best players because someone launches into a two-footed tackle like that.
“If the referee had seen it, if he'd dealt with it with a yellow card or something like that, then they can't review it. But this is the scenario they can review.
“I don't think [Pepper] had any malice – maybe it was a rush of blood or something.
“But these things have just got to be stamped out if we want to keep our best players on the park, entertain the public and grow the A-League.”
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Merrick said Rodriguez, who has played two games off the bench since joining Newcastle, was in doubt for Saturday’s home game against Wellington.
“He's been hobbling ever since, he can't train today and we were very keen for him to have a full week of training so he'd be available from the start next weekend," he said.
“We don't even know if he'll be available now.”