Brown: 'The game has become too difficult for the referees'
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown felt "a bit hard done by" following the decision to deny his side a try that would have given them the lead late in the 24-14 loss to St George Illawarra on Saturday at McDonald Jones Stadium.
After trailing by eight points inside the final ten minutes, the Knights crossed for the second time in four minutes in what could have been the match-winner to Mitchell Barnett after Dragons fullback Matt Dufty dropped a high bomb.
But after an extensive review by the Bunker, it was ruled a double knock-on, which left Brown perplexed, not only at the call, but also the complexity of the rules.
"It was a bit stiff," Brown said.
"The game has become too difficult for the referees; there are all these rules committees and the referees don't know if they are coming or going,
"Half of them wouldn't know what the referees are because they get changed on them all the time; they get instructed to do this and that.
"So, it is a bit difficult for them at the moment – just to defend them."
After a try-less first half, the Dragons took the lead soon after after a strong tackle from Jordan Pereira stopped Barnett from getting the offload away when Newcastle had an overlap, which would have extended their advantage.
"We missed a few (chances) – Mitchy Barnett could have kept us in front," Brown said.
"Then we had the disallowed one that would have put us on the front foot.
"They (Dragons) also got two intercept tries, or fast start tries, when they did not do anything to get them – when you do that any week it is going to make it tough."
The Knights came into the season with expectations of playing finals footy, especially after signing star halfback Mitchell Pearce.
But after winning five of their opening eight games, the injury curse struck, losing Pearce for 10 weeks – and all but two players missing at least one game throughout the season, keeping them out of the final top eight.
It has made the former NSW Blues' halfback even more determined to re-build combinations, promising the club's fans he will come back better next year.
"I'm just really looking forward to whatever the coach decides the way is to go with the halves," Pearce said.
"Coming into pre-season and having the whole summer where we are able to work on different combinations – not only with the halves but getting trust with your back-rowers and centres.
"That's where you become a really good team attacking-wise."