Latrell Mitchell's one-match ban clearly came as a shock to the Sydney Roosters as the star player – and coach Trent Robinson – were too stunned to utter a word as they exited League Central.
Mitchell had hoped to escape suspension for a crusher tackle on Cronulla's Josh Dugan and play in Saturday week's preliminary final against South Sydney or St George Illawarra.
After a marathon hearing on Tuesday night, the three-man judiciary panel of Sean Garlick, Tony Puletua and Bob Lindner took just over 10 minutes to find Mitchell guilty.
Mitchell told the hearing he had wanted to make a dominant tackle on Dugan during Saturday night's 21-12 qualifying win over the Sharks.
But the 21-year-old said he made a point of creating a "pocket of space" around Dugan's neck and head so there was sufficient room to move.
"I don't want to hurt anyone, I don't go out to deliberately hurt someone. I wanted to be dominant in the tackle," Mitchell said.
"I wouldn't say I was careless. I was trying to look after him as best I could."
When NRL counsel Peter McGrath asked Mitchell if he had put pressure around Dugan's neck by pulling on him tightly, Mitchell said: "There was no pressure. I thought I was in control with how I wanted to get him through [to the ground] as best I could."
McGrath said there was no suggestions Mitchell wanted to hurt Dugan "but in your desire to make a dominant tackle, you failed in the care you should have shown in making the tackle".
Mitchell was represented by James McLeod, whose closing argument went so long it almost went to golden-point extra-time.
Among some of the points McLeod raised, he said was there was "no injury of substance" suffered by Dugan, and no medical reports nor complaints from the pocket referee, who was close to the tackle.
The tackle also featured Mitchell's teammates Luke Keary and Jake Friend, and it was Friend's late involvement, they claimed, which contributed to Dugan getting into the position he was in.
Mitchell risked being banned one match even with a guilty plea, which allowed the Bondi club to have a "free hit" at the judiciary.
Robinson initially played down Mitchell's tackle on Saturday night, and suggested Dugan may have tried to play for the penalty.
"If they go off, fine, but you can play for penalties at different times as well. That's up to someone else," Robinson said at the time.
Robinson quickly followed Mitchell straight out the door on Tuesday night.
Robinson's assistant Craig Fitzgibbon gave evidence after finally being allowed by judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew.
Given Mitchell's profile in the game and the importance of games at this time of year, even NRL boss Todd Greenberg made a brief cameo at the back of the hearing.
Mitchell had carry-over points from a cannonball tackle a week earlier.
There were comparisons with Will Chambers' crusher tackle last month, which earned the Melbourne Storm centre a three-match suspension.
Mitchell scored a try and denied one with eight minutes on the clock against Cronulla, which essentially saved the game for the Roosters.
The 21-year-old made his Origin debut this year, and been in irresistible form for the Roosters.
Since Origin, Mitchell has crossed for 10 tries and made more than 40 tackle busts.
Gorden Tallis was one person who thought Mitchell deserved to be looking at longer than one game on the sidelines.
"We saw Will Chambers get three weeks, and that's equal," Tallis said on Triple M over the weekend.
"And until they come down harder they are going to keep doing it."
Mitch Aubusson is expected to replace Mitchell in the centres on Saturday week before Mitchell – and Dylan Napa – return from suspension should the glamour club reach the grand final.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.