MAITLAND prop Willie Soe will miss the Blacks’ final round game due to a one-week suspension but his ban could have been larger if not for the input of University breakaway Darcy Barker.
Soe was sent off on a touch judge’s report for striking Barker with his elbow when the Uni player was on the ground during a melee in the Blacks’ 58-19 win over the Students.
The incident, which was not captured by BarTV television cameras, was graded mid-range and could have resulted in a four-week suspension, ruling Soe out of the opening three-weeks of the finals.
However, Maitland were successful in having the grade reduced to low-end, thanks to a letter from Barker.
“The University player provided a stat dec in which he indicated that Willie struck him in the chest and the act was not malicious,” Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union general manager Andy Fairfull said. “The other mitigating factor was that Willie has had a pretty good record in the past five years.”
The Blacks will also be without breakaway John Birrell for the trip to Walters Park after he received a third yellow card for the campaign.
Turi Uini returns in the front-row alongside his brother Frank. Nick Davidson replaces Birrell on the side of the scrum.
Nelson Bay breakaway Sapati Peniata is also free to play in the finals after judiciary chairman Doug Williams deemed a red card sufficient after he was sent off on a touch judge’s report for punching in the 62-19 win over the Bulls.
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