'Extremely unhappy': NRL wields the axe after bunker 'disgrace'

·4-min read
Seen here, Drew Hutchison lies in agony on the ground after copping knees into the side of his back.
Drew Hutchison was taken to hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung after the sickening incident. Pic: Fox Sports/Getty

The NRL has moved swiftly to axe the Bunker official from Friday night's game between Parramatta and the Roosters after a number of controversies left viewers outraged.

Parramatta withstood a spirited challenge from the injury-ravaged Roosters, eventually running out 31-18 winners at Bankwest Stadium.

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However, most of the focus during and after the match was on a pair of incidents at the end of the first half that many viewers thought should have resulted in one or two Eels players being sent to the sin bin.

The bunker somehow missed Dylan Brown sliding knees-first into opposite number Drew Hutchison, in an incident that saw the Rooster taken to hospital with broken ribs and a possible punctured lung.

The incident formed part of a try review that was already sent to video officials, but the footage was cut off before the contact.

It meant Brown was only put on report after halftime and not sin-binned, while Marata Niukore also stayed on the field despite making high contact with his shoulder on James Tedesco's head in the same play.

Brown was on Saturday charged with grade-three dangerous contact and faces at least three weeks out, with the ban to go to a fourth match if he unsuccessfully fights it.

Dylan Brown is pictured here playing for Parramatta against the Roosters.
Dylan Brown could be sidelined for a number of weeks after being charged over the Drew Hutchison incident. Pic: Getty

Niukore is also looking at a two-game ban, which will rise to three if he fights it and fails.

Commentators, fans and an irate Roosters coach Trent Robinson were left stunned when neither player was sent to the bin, despite the NRL this week warning clubs about crackdown on foal play.

Bunker official Steve Chiddy has since been dropped for the rest of the weekend, with the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley admitting he was left "extremely unhappy" with how things played out.

The incidents came just days after the NRL sent an email to clubs and officials encouraging the use of the sin-bin for contact with the head or neck.

The edict came amid a rise in head injuries, with charges for such incidents up 700 per cent over the first six rounds of this season compared to 2017.

'Incompetent' bunker performance savaged

"Don't send a letter and then not back it up," Roosters coach Robinson fumed after the match.

"That incident (with Brown and Hutchison) wasn't good enough from the bunker and the referees.

"It's ridiculous. That's incompetent."

In response, Annesley on Saturday admitted the officials were not good enough.

"(Referees boss) Jared (Maxwell) and I were extremely unhappy about a number of decisions which occurred throughout the game," Annesley said.

"As a result, the bunker officials involved, who were due to officiate again tonight, have been replaced. They will not officiate again in round nine.

"The performance last night did not meet our expectations."

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Tedesco - who was only just returning from concussion after a high shot on Anzac Day in Friday night's loss - claimed his team were the victims of several acts of foul play from rival clubs.

"It happened to Drew and I was the same and there were a few others as well.

"I don't know what we can do about it because you can only say so much to the ref and hopefully they make the right calls.

"There's not much we can do. We can only play footy and not dwell on it too much, especially during the game."

Tedesco said he was miffed as to why Brown was not sanctioned at the time, given a sin-bin would've meant the Roosters could've enacted 18th man Joseph Suaalii.

"(Referee Matt) Cecchin said at halftime that he didn't see that and that he only saw my one," Tedesco said.

"I told him a fair few times that he was leading with the knees, but then there wasn't a call on that which was quite confusing.

"I don't know what more the players can do."

with AAP

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