Bennett: Discipline let NRL All Stars down
NRL All Stars mentor Wayne Bennett says the abnormally high penalty count in Friday night's Harvey Norman All Stars clash came as no surprise to him.
A whopping 21 penalties were blown in the match – won 20-6 by the Indigenous All Stars – including 10 in the first quarter, although Bennett feels that number could have easily been higher.
"I didn't think they [the penalties] weren't unwarranted, I thought there could've been a lot more," Bennett said.
"I'm just over some of the behaviour out there to be honest with you – if that's going to be the standard for the season – that's not what I want to see.
"They could have given another 15 or 20 penalties out there tonight and they would've been deserved."
Bennett's gripe was focussed on the ruck area with the majority of penalties conceded by the NRL All Stars focussed on the play-the-ball- area.
"It was just what was going on after tackles were made. It kills momentum in the game as well, but it's early days [in the season]," he said.
"It comes from a desire to make sure the other guy can't get up before you do. In their minds that's what they're being told so they go to all ends to make sure they control that.
"There's a balance with that and you get it wrong sometimes."
Despite only three penalties separating both sides, the NRL All Stars' lack of ball control ultimately led to their downfall.
The NRL All Stars only completed 20 of 37 sets with six of those sets ending before the completion of the third tackle. Although disappointed with the lack of attacking application on display by his chargers, Bennett wasn't overly concerned given the players' lack of football in recent months.
"From our point of view [the standard] wasn't where I'd like it to be, particularly with our ball control, so it took a bit away from game," he said.
"That's a by-product of not playing football. For a lot of those guys it was their first game tonight.
"It's an intense game – it's certainly not a trial match, it was way above that – if you were out in the bush it wouldn't be such an issue. There was a lot of intensity out there and a lot of effort by both sides and we just made too many mistakes."
NRL All Stars skipper Beau Scott echoed the sentiments of Bennett regarding the penalty and error count of his side.
"We needed to work with the referees a little bit more than we did tonight but in saying that, that was the first hit-out for a lot of players tonight, including myself, so it's a juggling act with a bit of fatigue and being the first game of the year," Scott said.
"Intensity-wise the Indigenous boys were up for the game. You can't entertain and you can't play good football if you drop the pill too often and that's what we achieved tonight."