The Sydney Roosters' title hopes have been dealt a massive blow with hooker Sam Verrills only able to play again if they make the grand final after being banned for a high tackle.
Verrills dropped his head and was visibly disappointed as the verdict was read out at Tuesday's judiciary hearing, rubbing him out of Friday's semi-final against Manly and the preliminary final against South Sydney if they qualify.
It could force Trent Robinson to turn to rookie No.9 Ben Marschke, who began the year outside the club's 30-man roster and has played only 12 games.
It comes after the Roosters already confirmed on Tuesday they would be without representative prop Siosiua Taukeiaho because of a leg complaint.
Verrills could have accepted a one-game ban for the charge but his bid to downgrade it from a level-two to a grade-one has proven costly.
In a 80-minute hearing, Verrills' legal team argued the dummy-half had minimal culpability for his shot that collected Gold Coast centre Brian Kelly's face.
Lawyer James McLeod claimed the shot was almost a without-blame rugby league incident, stating the force was caused by Kelly and Verrills' teammate Sitili Tupouniua.
Verrills did not speak during the hearing, but watched on via video link as McLeod claimed Kelly had fallen into his shoulder after running at the line hard and deflecting off Tupouniua.
"This case is also a reminder that you can at the elite level of rugby league where you can have high contact where there is very little done wrong by the defending player," McLeod said.
"That does arise at sometimes, that is a reality."
"He is not projecting his arm forward.
"Sam has the least role in terms of the force that was generated and the outcome."
McLeod also claimed a hit from Junior Paulo in Parramatta's win over Newcastle had showed less control when he collected Kurt Mann high, only to cop a lesser grade-one charge.
The defence also made an emotional plea to the three-man panel of Ben Creagh, Bob Lindner and Dallas Johnson to understand the contact as men who had played the game.
But it took the trio just 13 minutes to decide they disagreed with McLeod's stance.
Instead, they sided with NRL counsel Peter McGrath, who claimed Verrills was careless after trying to make high contact above the ball.
"That's perfectly legitimate, but it does carry with it risk of contact with the head or neck area and a higher duty of care," McGrath said.
"(He) makes directs contact with head or neck of Kelly.
"In the circumstances there is very little in the way of mitigating features that would reduce the seriousness of the tackle.
"Verrills had plenty of time to get set. Tupouniua did not push Kelly off his attacking line so Verrills was wrong footed.
"And the impact of Tupouniua did not force drop head level."