Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
The Knights have accused Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves of intentionally lifting his elbow in an incident that saw Newcastle forward Jeremy Smith taken from the field in the premiers' 29-12 win at Allianz Stadium.
Knights skipper Kurt Gidley complained to referee Gavin Badger twice in the second half, claiming the Kiwi prop had led with his elbow when being tackled by David Fa'alogo in the 60th minute and again 12 minutes later when he collected Smith with a raised arm that forced the veteran out of the game.
Badger had no issue with either incident, but speaking after the match Gidley was adamant Waerea-Hargreaves should have been penalised for the alleged elbow lift that soured the Roosters' fourth win in a row over the Knights.
"I think he runs with it (elbow) raised," a frustrated Gidley said after the match. "As much as we are trying to protect players with probably lower leg injuries, getting hit in the throat is as bad as anything.
"So personally I do think he runs with it raised and there are probably a few blokes that will back that up in my team tonight."
Knights coach Wayne Bennett agreed with his skipper, saying Waerea-Hargreaves should have faced greater scrutiny from match officials for the incident that was similar to the collision that saw club legend Danny Buderus stretchered from the field in last year's grand final qualifier between the same two sides.
“If that is acceptable in the game then the game needs to be changed,” said Bennett.
“We all saw it on replay and the video referee saw it and they must have all thought it was acceptable.
"It is not acceptable but that was their take on it tonight. We will see what the future holds.’’
Bennett was otherwise left to lament another match that got away from the Knights, with his side having the better of the opening forty minutes to lead 12-6 at halftime before conceding four unanswered tries in the second half.
"I don’t think there has been a game all year where we haven’t been in it, but we just find a way to get ourselves out of it," said Bennett, who pointed to the Roosters first two second half tries from kicks as crucial to the final outcome.
"It turned on those two kicks where we dropped the ball and they just killed us for a team that’s playing their hearts out but lacking a little bit of confidence.
"We were doing it pretty well and then we gifted two tries to the opposition and we’ve gone from 12-6 to 18-12 and it makes it hard for them after that."
"They're all competing and trying pretty hard but you make one error and lose a little bit of confidence and another and the second half was just a litany of errors."
"We're just finding ways to beat ourselves."
Bennett indicated he expected centre Joey Leilua, who missed the showdown with his former club due to a throat injury, to return for next week's clash with the Cowboys at Hunter Stadium.