Maloney's classy response to referee controversy

James Maloney has refused to point the finger at the officials after Cronulla's elimination from the NRL finals by North Queensland amid a whirlwind of referee blaming.

 

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has been fined $30,000 by the NRL over his a withering spray of referees Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger after they had been knocked out on Sunday by a gutsy Cowboys.

Incensed by what he claimed was a series of incorrect, game-altering decisions - including Maloney's first-half sin-binning for a professional foul - Flanagan described the officials as "disgraceful".

Asked whether his sin-binning and other calls had cost his side the game, Maloney said: "No, we still should have won the game if we did things a bit differently. That's the way it is."

Maloney was sin-binned in controversial fashion. Image: Getty

Cronulla's relationship with Rugby League HQ was fractured further after Flanagan again unloaded in a video on the club's website in which he described calls against his side as "horrendous". And, an article posted by club officials blamed referees for dwindling crowds.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on Monday drew a line in the sand, slugging Flanagan and Manly coach Trent Barrett with breach notices and telling them to "grow up".

The Sharks and Sea Eagles ($20,000) have five working days to make submissions and appeal for reductions in the severity of the fines.

Maloney said he refused to blame the referees and pointed out Cronulla still had a chance to snatch victory deep into extra time.

The Sharks had a number of attacking opportunities in the dying stages but were cruelled by several costly errors, including Andrew Fifita running across field and throwing a loose pass which turned over possession in their final set of six.

Maloney said they should have taken advantage of those opportunities and closed out the game.

"We probably should have won the game regardless of what went on," Maloney told AAP.

"You deal with it, move on. There are a couple of things we should have done better."


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