Bellamy weighs in on referees debate
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has expressed his frustration with the dual referee system, adding his two bobs in what was already a turbulent week for the NRL's refereeing department.
While Melbourne found a return to their defensive ways in a measured 28-6 victory over the Wests Tigers in Campbelltown on Monday night, both sides niggled their way into penalties late in the game as frustration turned into ill-discipline.
And Bellamy blamed the referees for it.
"I'm not trying to be [critical] – but I probably am – but the referees just seem to have problem communicating or being on the same page," Bellamy said.
"The head referee is supposed to be at 10 metres most of the time, [and] there's one there to referee the ruck. How many times tonight, in the rabbits ears we heard, 'Markers are off, markers are off'. We heard that twice in the first half and the markers got in the tackle – there was no penalty.
"Another couple of times, the guy at the ruck is calling, 'Hand on ball, hand on ball'. Sometimes he'll penalise it from the 10 metres, sometimes he just lets it go."
The 12-year coach said that the inconsistency not only led to exasperation in the coaching box, but to bad behaviour on the field as well.
"For me, I know it's frustrating up in the box listening to that, so obviously it's frustrating for the players too," he said.
"And I'm not just talking about our players. I'm talking about both teams. We heard that a few times tonight. I'm not quite sure what we do about it, but my thought that is if the deputy referee, if his job is to control the ruck, well 99 per cent of the time you're going to take notice of him, because that's his job.
"[At the moment] it's 50-50 whether you take notice of him or not. It gets frustrating when you hear markers called out and then they get penalised and then the next set of six or three sets of six later, you hear markers called out and then goes into the tackle and they don't give a penalty. That's a frustrating thing, and I think that's one thing they've got to look closely out."
The victory extended Melbourne's winning streak to three, elevating them to fifth spot on the ladder and just one win out of the coveted top four.
But while Bellamy was pleased with his side's improved form, he remained wary of their final five games against Newcastle (A), Cronulla (H), Penrith (A), Roosters (A) and Brisbane (H).
"I'm still probably a pessimist at times, a bit of a realist. We've had a real up and down first 17 weeks. But we've shown a little bit more consistency the last month," he said.
"We just need to make sure we keep that going and not drop back into playing for periods of games or preparing differently each week and not performing like we should.
"There's still a fair way to go and we've still got some improvement in us. But we need to work hard to make sure that we don't dip and not drop back into that inconsistent pattern we had the first 17 weeks of the competition."