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Finch weighs in on scrum debate

National Rugby League Referees Coach Robert Finch has defended a number of key decisions from this weekend’s Telstra Premiership and has attacked claims in regard to the final penalty awarded in yesterday’s Titans v Sea Eagles match.

In the Broncos v Wests Tigers game, Mr Finch said that both captains had been warned about penalties in the 35th minute, that Wests Tigers skipper Benji Marshall was further warned about penalties conceded by his team again in the 45th minute and that the Wests Tigers incurred two more penalties before Marshall committed an illegal strip in the 64th minute.

“The decision was not a reaction to anything in the media but it is interesting to note that it’s only a couple of weeks ago that referees were being attacked for giving warnings and not following them through,” Mr Finch said.

“No referee enjoys sin binning a player in such a circumstance but in conditions like that it is just as important not to have games decided by players who are prepared to risk penalty after penalty to disrupt the opposition.”

In the South Sydney versus Parramatta match, Mr Finch said that the referees were right to signal ‘time-on’ once South Sydney players had removed their heads from the scrum formation:

“The decision was entirely in line with the guideline changes announced this year and the referees have been criticised unfairly. They can only enforce the guidelines that are there and if we need to revisit those at the end of the year then we will.

“We put our hand up last week over the Steve Clark decision but since then and into today I have heard criticism that is not fair.”

In regard to the Gold Coast v Manly match, Mr Finch said that it was incorrect to blame the ‘two referees’ model or to suggest that Matt Cecchin was a ‘junior referee’:

“He was graded in 2001, has officiated at Grand Finals and State of Origin and has well over 30 first grade games as the central referee.

“The decision he made yesterday was an incredibly tough call to make and whichever way he went someone was going to criticise the outcome … most predictably whichever side lost the game.

“There was only one guy out there who had the job of deciding whether Orford tried to take Campbell out in attempting to get to the ball.

“This is not a situation where I can say the referee was categorically right or wrong – there’s no doubt, however, that he interpreted the events on the basis of having done everything correctly.

“There is no doubt that he was in the best position to make judgment and it is a judgment people should accept in a professional manner.

“Again, it’s only a few weeks ago people were trying to attack referees for not making decisions late in matches.

“The silly thing about some of what is being said in the aftermath is that if we had still had one referee he would have been in a significantly worse position to make that decision than Matt was yesterday.”

Finch weighs in on scrum debate

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