Refs in the spotlight again after Dragons win
A pair of controversial calls – and one outright clanger – had the officials again under fire following St George Illawarra's 28-12 win over Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Another contentious obstruction call and possible grounding led to a no-try for either side in the space of two minutes, but it was a kick-off deemed to have gone out on the full that drew criticism from the Tigers captain and coach post game.
A monster restart from winger Pat Richards following Gareth Widdop's opening try of the game looked to be floating dead on the full. But Dragons halfback Benji Marshall fielded the ball with his back leg in the air over the dead ball line, planting his foot dead a fraction of a second after catching the ball.
The referees immediately ruled a penalty from halfway, and even though the big screen revealed the error before the restart – which was slowed down further because the Dragons had passed the ball upfield denying them a quick tap – the penalty stood.
Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter described it as a 100 metre mistake, given his side should have had the ball at the Dragons line rather than been defending their own.
"You would've liked to go to the video for that kick-off, that really gives them a penalty on halfway which puts them right down your end of the field for a decision that could've been solved if you just have a look up there," he said.
"Just a quick look. Just have a quick look and it's done. Then we get a drop out and we get the ball on the try line."
Club captain Robbie Farah said it was disappointing the mistake had remained when there had been time to correct it.
"I think the disappointing thing is they had time to have a look. By the time we got back to halfway he'd seen a replay but still didn't want to have a look at it or change the decision," he said.
"It was the same in the Manly game [a contentious no-try ruling against David Nofoaluma]. I guess I can understand if they get things wrong in the run of play when you haven't got time to look at it, they're going to make mistakes.
"With the benefit of having a replay to have a look at it I don't understand why they can't come up with the right call or change their call."
Later in the half, Dragons fullback Adam Quinlan was denied when decoy runner Leeson Ah Mau came into contact with Tigers halfback Luke Brooks.
The call was sent up to the video referee as a no-try but the decision allowed to stand even though Brooks came in on the player, and still only made contact with his inside shoulder.
It was almost an action replay of a play that denied a try to Parramatta earlier in the year – with the Eels camp at the time suggesting Brooks had taken a dive.
Barely a minute after the Quinlan no-try, the video ref upheld another no-try ruling against Tigers centre Tim Simona, even though Simona looked to have grounded the ball cleanly just inside the dead ball line.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said the lack of clarity on the rulings may be of concern but wasn't arguing with the decision.
"It's a tough one isn't it? They [obstruction calls] can go either way. He can't disappear that person [Ah Mau], the lead runner," McGregor said.
"Understand: we're trying to get to an inside shoulder so the bloke can bounce off but if the bloke wants to make a wrong decision, make it look like a wrong decision so he doesn't have to effectively make a tackle, when the two men had plenty of opportunity to stop Quinny, he went around his head, he bounced off that and still ran 30 metres to score – it was a tough call but they can go either way so I'm not complaining about it.
"If it happened in the finals and you lost a game it'd be a big concern but it's nothing we can control as coaches."
McGregor noted the Simona ruling, like the Quinlan ruling, had stayed with the on-field call.
"Both decisions went with the live decision so the six could've turned into a 12 point turnaround at one stage with us. The live decision was no try, so it's 50/50 calls and we got one each."