Rugby League fans have erupted over a “laughable” Bunker decision in the Newcastle Knights’ 14-8 victory over the Cronulla Sharks.
The Sharks were trailing 8-2 when firstly Josh Dugan looked to have hit back in the dying stages of the match off a Shaun Johnson grubber kick.
Replays showed the Sharks centre had fumbled the ball over the line but there was a dramatic twist seconds later.
The referee wanted a possible obstruction looked at as Edrick Lee took out Sione Katoa while the Sharks man attempted to retrieve the footy.
The Bunker confirmed that there was foul play but to the astonishment of viewers, the video officials then proceeded to award the Sharks a penalty try as Johnson added the extras from right in front to tie it up.
Commentators insisted there was no way of conclusively saying the Sharks would have scored the try and fans were equally as filthy with the call on social media.
Round One and there’s already a Penalty Try! 😳😳😳 #NRLKnightsSharks
— Megan Borg (@102megan) March 15, 2019
— Adam Santarossa (@adamsantarossa) March 15, 2019
— NedsAU (@NedsAus) March 15, 2019
— Simon (@simonferl) March 15, 2019
— Travis Meyn (@travismeyn) March 15, 2019
Further drama and perhaps a sense of justice would soon follow as the Knights brushed aside the controversy in spectacular circumstances.
Lee went from villain to hero after taking an intercept near his own try line, before racing the length of the field to score what turned out to be the match-winner.
Playing in his first game for the Knights after moving from the Sharks in the off-season, Lee figured in almost all of his side’s key moments as Nathan Brown’s men began their new era with a hard-fought win on Friday.
It took 69 minutes for the game to come to life when Tim Glasby surged through a gaping hole off a Mitchell Pearce short-ball to break the deadlock and give the home side an 8-2 advantage.
But just when the 21,813-strong crowd thought their side had the game in the bag, Sharks winger Katoa was sensationally awarded the penalty try.
Lee was immense all game, pulling off three try-saving tackles in the first-half to help deliver a victory which will give the Knights hope of returning to the top eight after five years in the wilderness and three wooden spoons in that period.
All of the Knights’ news faces stood out with David Klemmer running for 186m from 20 carries and making 25 tackles in a game-changing performance.
But Kalyn Ponga had a mediocre night in his first performance in the No.6 jumper, often looking devoid of ideas and taking several poor kicking options.
After the scores were tied 2-2 early in the second-half, the Sharks were ill-disciplined in what was new coach John Morris’ first game in charge.
Their five errors in the second 40 were telling in the wash up after they threw away several opportunities.
Meanwhile, Knights prop Daniel Saifiti was taken for scans after suffering a suspected MCL injury.