MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Canterbury Crusaders prop Joe Moody has been suspended for two games after pleading guilty for striking Kurtley Beale during Saturday’s home win over the New South Wales Waratahs.
In an off-the-ball incident, the All Blacks loosehead raised his elbow into Beale’s jaw late in the first half, flattening the Wallabies’ inside centre, before collecting a pass and scoring the Crusaders’ first try.
Local referee Ben O’Keeffe and an all-New Zealand roster of officials allowed the incident to go unpunished and the try stood.
Moody was cited after the match and SANZAAR’s Foul Play Review Committee ruled that the incident contravened the law relating to “striking with hand or arm”.
“The act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 4 weeks due to the dangerous contact with the opposing player’s head,” committee chairman Nigel Hampton said in a statement.
“However, taking into account mitigating factors including the player’s excellent judicial record, good character and guilty plea at the earliest possible opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to 2 weeks.”
The incident proved to be a decisive moment as the Crusaders, who had been trailing 29-0, ran over three tries in the following minutes before halftime and eventually overhauled the Waratahs 31-29.
The Crusaders victory extended New Zealand’s winning streak over Australian Super Rugby sides to 39 straight matches.
Moody was slammed in Australian media for the “cheap shot” on Beale and the citation did little to ease the indignation.
“The Crusaders won 31-29, but they know they didn’t deserve the chocolates,” a blogger on Australian sports website The Roar wrote.
“And Ben O’Keeffe doesn’t deserve another game of rugby.”
Waratahs’ New Zealand-born coach Daryl Gibson, a former Crusader, said after the game that O’Keeffe had missed the incident but declined to blame the oversight for the loss.
“It’s an elbow to the head, so I’m sure the powers to be will look at that,” he said.
Moody will miss games against the Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes but the 29-year-old should feature against the Waikato Chiefs, making him available for All Blacks selection for their test series against France next month.
Editing by Peter Rutherford and Pritha Sarkar