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Referees co-coach Stuart Raper looks at the big decisions during State of Origin and Round 18 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

What were your thoughts on the try awarded to the Rabbitohs when Nathan Merritt tipped the ball back into play?

The video referee awarded this try due to Benefit of the Doubt, but we believe he got this one wrong. It was a tough decision and a close call, but we believe after going through our review process today that it should have been disallowed.

We watched every angle in slow motion and we believe that Merritt's foot was on the deadball line while he was still touching the ball and thus it should have been a 20-metre tap to Manly. But it was very close.

Origin III: can you explain the penalty awarded against Queensland when Sam Thaiday pushed the ball carrier across the tryline?

The ‘driver’ tackle has been around for some time now and we have taken tries off teams in the past for this very reason.  The thing we noticed about it was that all the players in the game on Wednesday knew what was happening. The NSW players called to look at it and the Queensland players knew it was coming. 

If you read the NRL referee guidelines you will find the following under 'Supporting the ball carrier':

It is not permissible for the attacking player/s to impede any defender from making a tackle. The referee will penalise if this occurs.

The defender has to have a chance of affecting the tackle, whether it is holding a player up, preventing them from getting over the line or stripping at the ball. The defensive player needs to have a fair opportunity to prevent a try being scored. 

It is not like a normal tackle, the attacking player’s sole objective is to get the ball on the ground. 

You are allowed to touch your own player and that is in the guidelines, but you cannot touch the defending player.

By grabbing and pushing the NSW defender, Sam Thaiday has impeded the player and prevented him from having a fair play at stopping the try and this is why the rule is there.

Watch the Sam Thaiday no-try incident

Has the speed of the ruck quickened?

We addressed the ruck speed a couple of weeks ago because we were concerned it was starting to get bogged down and slow. Over the last couple of weekends the referees have been very vigilant in stopping players lying all over the tackled player and what we have noticed is that the teams have responded well to this. 

We have been happy with the ruck speeds over the last couple of weeks and there were 45 tries over the six games so far, so the teams were playing a bit of footy which is what you want.