There'll be one less star lighting up Magic Round with spellbinding Titans second-rower David Fifita suspended for two games after failing at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
The barnstorming forward, who tuned into the hearing by video and was represented by Titans high performance senior advisor Mal Meninga, tried to have a grade-two careless high tackle charge downgraded so he could face the undefeated Panthers on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
But after just 20 minutes of deliberation the judiciary panel - Ben Creagh, Sean Garlick and Bob Lindner - decided that Fifita's shot on Adam Doueihi late in Saturday's 36-28 win over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium warranted its initial grading.
He could have accepted a one-match ban by taking the early guilty plea, which affords a 25 percent discount in punishment, but the unsuccessful challenge means Fifita will also be sidelined for the round-11 match against the last-placed Bulldogs.
The 21-year-old was all-but beaten by Doueihi's right-foot step and hung out an arm that clocked the Tigers five-eighth around the head as he went for the try-line in the 79th minute.
The former Bronco was then sin-binned for the dying moments of the game by referee Ashley Klein.
Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Titans
Fifita, who featured in an NRL Magic Round video promotion unveiled by head of football Graham Annesley on Monday, would have been a drawcard for the weekend's final game at his old stomping ground.
The seventh-placed Gold Coast's task to topple Penrith is even tougher without Fifita given he has scored nine tries in nine appearances for his new club as well as averaging 140 metres per outing.
NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath submitted that Fifita was "highly careless" and launched himself at Doueihi after being "wrong-footed" with his feet leaving the ground.
McGrath argued there was moderate force in the tackle but he conceded the risk of injury was low because Fifita collected the side of Doueihi's face with his palm or wrist.
Meninga countered by saying that Doueihi had decreased his height as he approached contact and claimed that Fifita's feet being in the air upon impact reduced the force.
He claimed the incident wasn't even worthy of a sin-bin and argued that Fifita used a "wrapping, slapping, cupping motion" while Doueihi's head never hit the ground.
"We're not saying it's not careless, what we're saying is there's no swinging arm – there's a sort of cupping motion on player Doueihi's head," Meninga said.
"Momentum of both players helped drag Doueihi to the ground."
The Titans referred to an incident from last year - in which Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell received a grade-one careless high tackle charge for a similar shot on Wests Tigers second-rower Luke Garner - as evidence that a grade-two ruling was too harsh for Fifita.
Meninga posited that Mitchell was in a better position to make a tackle and used a swinging arm. McGrath argued that Mitchell's force was lower.
Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew instructed the panel to deem the Mitchell comparable unhelpful if they believed that incident was judged too leniently.
Earlier, Cowboys forward Mitchell Dunn failed to have a contrary conduct charge dismissed and copped an increased $2100 fine.
The charge stemmed from a melee in the 39th minute of Saturday's 19-18 win over the Broncos where Dunn tackled Matt Lodge after he dragged Kyle Feldt to the ground.
NRL prosecutor McGrath argued that even if Dunn was trying to stick up for Feldt, his actions were unsportsmanlike.
"He came in some distance and rather than attempt to neutralise or pull players apart, his actions escalated the melee," McGrath said.
Like Fifita, Dunn appeared by video link. He is free to play in Saturday's match against the Roosters.