Penalties could soar with two refs

PARRAMATTA back-rower Nathan Hindmarsh has warned that the two referees experiment could prove counter-productive if penalty counts continue to rise over the coming weeks.<br><br>Debate has raged over the use of two referees on the field this season after they were implemented across the board for the first time at the weekend, with Manly coach Des Hasler particularly critical following his side’s 34-12 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday night.<br><br>But while feedback has, for the most part, been positive - Hindmarsh said a noticeable increase in penalty counts in the first seven games of the season was a concern.<br><br>“It’s made the game quicker in regards to play-the-balls but I think they’re blowing more penalties too,” Hindmarsh said. “It’s frustrating for the players and it’s frustrating to watch too.”<br><br>“They got rid of video referees interfering to speed the game up and give less penalties but now they’re giving even more. It sort of defeats the purpose a bit.”<br><br>With the exception of Sunday’s 52-12 win by South Sydney over the Sydney Roosters – in which only 12 penalties were awarded – no other game had less than 16.<br><br>Two games, Melbourne v St George Illawarra and Gold Coast v Newcastle, saw 18 penalties given by the two referees.<br><br>By comparison, only three of the eight games from round one in 2008 topped 16 penalties.<br><br>However, players have, for the most part, given two referees the thumbs up.<br><br>“I thought the idea of it was quite good,” Bulldogs halfback Brett Kimmorley said.<br><br>“Because one of them is in there behind the ruck he talks – he is a physical voice – so when he says ‘move’ or ‘let go’, you do it.<br><br>“A video ref can’t do that.<br><br>“I didn’t think he interfered with the game at all but the game was a little bit quicker and cleaner because of him.”<br><br>Kimmorley said he expected penalty counts to fix themselves as players become used to the scrutiny they will now be under in every tackle.<br><br>“The tackles will get cleaned up and the play-the-balls will get cleaned up,” he predicted.<br><br>“I didn’t think the penalty count in our game (10-6 to the Bulldogs) was much of an issue and to be honest I thought the better teams had the run of the games.<br><br>“The sides that were on top received most of the calls but every game I watched flowed quite comfortably.”