The NRL said today it had conducted a full review of the finish of Monday night's game between the Storm and Dragons – and found that the siren and play the ball had occurred almost simultaneously.
NRL Referees Elite Performance Manager, Mr Tony Archer, said it took freeze frame technology to determine that the siren sounded to end the game less than a second before Melbourne played the ball.
Mr Archer said it was therefore technically a mistake by the referee – by the closest of margins.
"The siren and the play the ball were all but simultaneous," he said.
"But, technically, the siren sounded a split second before the Melbourne player 'heeled' the ball. So, in that sense, the referee's call was wrong and the final play should not have proceeded.
"We were only able to work this out by going through the final moments of the game frame by frame so you can appreciate how difficult it would be for a referee to make a call with that degree of accuracy out in the middle."
Mr Archer said the rules stipulate that the ball is in play when it is played backwards.
If the player has not played it backwards, full-time should be called.
The NRL's Head of Football, Mr Todd Greenberg, it was one of the closest calls he had seen and that the NRL is looking at several measures to try to improve timing issues in games.
This includes linking the official time clock to that used by the television stations covering the game so fans have an accurate countdown to the final siren.
He said the video referee and timekeeper may also give the on-field referees a verbal countdown through their earpieces during the final seconds of the game.
"This might help in some cases but I don't think you can ever guarantee that the correct call will be made when the siren goes at virtually the same time as the play the ball," Mr Greenberg said.