Manu’a had been sent off in the third quarter for two minutes for a similar challenge on Cara Koenen. Koenen also appeared surprised at the referee’s decision.
Both decisions were slammed by former West Coast Fever and Wales coach Sue Gaudion.
‘As far as I’m concerned I think it’s disgraceful.’
“We’re here to have an opinion on things. I’m going to give you one: as far as I’m concerned I think it’s disgraceful,” Gaudion said. “It shouldn’t have happened. I believe Kristiana Manu’a’s intent was for the ball only. It was the same in the moment before.”
Cox agreed, saying Manu’a had not done anything wrong, while Ellis, the former national captain turned commentator, said she could not recall seeing a player sent off twice in a game.
“She was going for the ball, she’s not that kind of player,” Cox said. “Certainly, the second one I thought she was going for the ball as well.
“So tough decisions to make, it’s a tough job for the umpires.”
Giants captain and player of the match Harten did not criticise the referees for the two send-off calls but said they could have done a better job in explaining their decisions.
“I think it was just a confusing match,” Harten said. “I think there could have been more clarity throughout.
“Credit to Lightning, they capitalised when they needed to in that game. We had a player sent off – that’s the bread and butter of it.
“If you’ve not got your goal defence it’s going to be really, really hard to play that game. Kris got a warning in that second quarter, it was tricky for us from that on.”
The Giants extended their lead from five to eight after Manu’a was sent off the first time but ran out of legs in the finish against the fast-finishing Lightning.
“It’s an unfortunate way to finish a game like that,” Lightning wing attack Scherian said.
“It was pretty hotly contested and Giants were well in control at that time. We never want to put the umpires in that position.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald