NRL admits touch judge erred on controversial Katoa try
The NRL admitted the decision by a touch judge to raise his flag in the lead-up to a controversial try was wrong and promised a review of the incident that cost the Raiders in their 28-24 loss to Cronulla on Friday night.
While Canberra coach Ricky Stuart expressed fears rugby league is losing fans due to dramas related to match and review officials, an NRL spokesperson confirmed Sione Katoa's controversial four-pointer [57th minute] will be reviewed after the Referees Bunker overturned the on-field decision of 'no try'.
Katoa strolled over to place the ball cleanly despite touch judge Ricky MacFarlane having raised his flag to gain the attention of referee Bernard Sutton.
"The subjective part about the Bunker's decision around the review [of the try] is going to be reviewed," the spokesman said.
"They need to go back and check all the angles but the touch judge shouldn't have put his flag up."
Stuart stopped short of blaming that decision for costing his side the match, but again raised long-held concerns over the way the game is officiated.
The Raiders rallied from 16 points down at halftime [22-6] to dominate the second half and had all the momentum against a Sharks side that fell asleep.
"What's disappointing is we're talking about it isn't it," Stuart said.
"I just criticised my players in there for not playing to the whistle, then they tell me the flag went up and the referee called knock on.
"So what are they meant to do? Referee calls knock on and the flag goes up ..."
Stuart was also left bemused with a pass ruled forward from Joey Leilua to Brad Abbey to cross in the left corner, as the Raiders trailed by 10 points late in the game, and blamed the changing of rules throughout the season from NRL officials.
"I only saw the replay once, to me it went well behind a lot of passes that have been let go this year," Stuart said.
"All this rot started round one this year... I don't know who came out and told the referees they had to come in and pick on everything in regards to the 10-metre rule, interpretation of the ruck, all the work on the ground, hands on the ball, start nit-picking at little bits of pieces of play.
"But we've ruined the first 14 rounds of the competition. We've lost fans, I know so many people who have turned off rugby league because of it.
"But then halfway through the year Todd [NRL boss Todd Greenberg] comes out and says he told the referees to stop nit-picking.
"We're the only sport in the world that changes interpretations midway through the year.
"We get an email this week telling us that this won't be acceptable this week. It's like a cricket umpire saying LBW this week is only going to be leg stump and middle stump. We have too much noise. The Bunker is a waste of time. For the referee to be able to use it is wrong.
"The Bunker is making it harder for the referee."
Raiders skipper Josh Hodgson said the decision left the side stunned but refused to blame the call on the overall result.
"I was on the inside and you saw the touchie put the flag up and then half put it down. As soon as you see a flag you stop your feet. If you watch the video back the ref [keeps going to blow the whistle]," Hodgson said.
"We were all just waiting for the whistle. We all just stopped and he ran through and scored. He called no try, you've got to give proof it's definitely not a try.
"Once it goes to the Bunker, the only feedback you get is there's nothing we can do now. Constantly all night I was asking questions, I rather got not much or that was what I thought. The feedback was very short.
"Don't get me wrong, I don't want everyone to start thinking this cost us the game and we're having a whinge about the refs. Our first half cost us the game, we're not kidding ourselves with that.
"But there were certainly a few factors that added to that. We're holding ourselves accountable. We're not blaming everything on someone else."