A controversial 72nd minute no-try ruling against Parramatta centre Will Hopoate is the latest in a string of obstruction calls to draw the wrath of coaches.
Hopoate crossed with the Easter Monday Eels v Wests Tigers blockbuster delicately poised, with his side trailing 18-14 in a match they eventually lost 21-18
. Despite being sent upstairs as a probable try, the decision was overturned by the video referee due to decoy runner David Gower coming into contact with Tigers half Luke Brooks.
It capped off a weekend of contentious obstruction calls, with Cowboys coach Paul Green livid after a try was awarded to Manly’s Kieran Foran despite Jamie Buhrer seeming to impede Ray Thompson, while there were also a pair of contentious calls in the Rabbitohs v Bulldogs game.
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Parramatta coach Brad Arthur suggested after the game coaches may now start telling players to take a dive in such circumstances, but stopped just short of outright accusing Brooks of deliberately hitting the turf.
"I don't know what an obstruction is anymore. I think as coaches we'll start encouraging our players to take a dive. David Gower clearly got back on his inside shoulder," Arthur said.
"The rule is you've got to get back on the inside shoulder and that's what Dave Gower did. He went through the line sideways."
Eels co-captain Jarryd Hayne described obstruction rulings as a "lottery" and said there is genuine confusion among the players as to what rulings will be.
"I think the coaches and players and fans just want consistency. Every week it seems like it's changing," Hayne said.
"As soon as you get a media storm they get a bit of fear behind them, the video refs, and it's a lottery. It really is. I think it's pretty clear that Gowie didn't take him out. For us, if that's going to be the rule, then stay with it."
Hayne insisted that in the past, that play would have been awarded a try.
"If that's going to be the rule now, where someone can touch the other player and fall down, and that's ruled as a penalty, then so be it," he said.
"Let's just keep consistent and on the same page and not change it a week, two weeks after. That's what's frustrating the most."
Arthur stressed the play didn't cost the side – who still managed to score again to level up after the Hopoate no-try – the two competition points.
"We needed to be better to win the game. They scored two tries off our errors. We need to learn how to close the game out," he said, with reference to two length-of-the-field Tigers tries to Luke Brooks (from a loose Hayne pass) and Pat Richards (off a Sandow pass that was intercepted).
He also did not blame Sandow's off day with the boot, kicking just one-from-four conversions, compared to Richards who nailed four-from-four, including a penalty goal from the halfway line.
"We had enough opportunities to win that game. At the end of the day it would have been nice if he'd kicked another goal but we had enough opportunities to win that game and we didn't do it," Arthur said.
Brooks laughed off suggestions he took a dive.
"Nah – well I don't think I did!" he said. "He [Gower] went into me so I couldn't do anything else."
Yet Brooks said he wasn't sure which way the video referee was going to decide, admitting it seemed to be a 50/50 call.