'That's laughable': Andrew Johns blows up over NRL 'disgrace'

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Andrew Johns, pictured here in commentary for Channel Nine.
Andrew Johns described the bunker's decision as 'laughable'. Image: Channel Nine/Getty

Andrew Johns was among a plethora of NRL fans and commentators in disbelief on Thursday night after a number of controversial bunker calls went against the Newcastle Knights.

The Knights copped two tough calls from the bunker in their 36-12 loss to Brisbane - one which denied Dane Gagai a try and the other which confirmed a try for Selwyn Cobbo.

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In front of a crowd of 13,312 at McDonald Jones Stadium, the Broncos moved into the NRL's top four and secured their fifth-straight win for the first time since 2017.

The victory was made all the more impressive for the Broncos considering halfback Adam Reynolds was a late scratching with a groin complaint for debutant Ezra Mam.

However the focus of the game will remain on two crucial calls which left the Knights scratching their heads.

The first came in the first half when Knights centre Gagai juggled the ball in the process of scoring.

Replays showed the ball came away from his fingertips before he slammed it down, which has been a knock-on for a number of years because Gagai never properly re-gripped it.

The second call proved much more controversial after the Broncos appeared to get away with a clear obstruction in the lead-up to Cobbo scoring.

With the Broncos leading 14-12 in the 69th minute, Brisbane fullback Te Maire Martin ran behind Jordan Riki, with Knights halfback Adam Clune prevented from getting to Martin to make a tackle.

But despite replays showing Clune was obstructed, referee Adam Gee and the bunker allowed the try to stand because Martin passed the ball before going behind Riki.

The call appeared to go against everything the NRL has implemented in recent years, with the fact the ball was passed not a factor if the attacking side takes an advantage from an obstruction.

Adam Clune, pictured here clearly being obstructed by Jordan Riki.
Adam Clune was clearly obstructed by Jordan Riki. Image: Channel Nine

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"This time you can clearly see Clune has Riki right in front of him, so he couldn't see what Te Maire Martin was doing with the ball," Brad Fittler said on Channel Nine.

"That is a bad call. A bad call."

Knights legend Johns described the decision as "laughable", while Phil Gould said: “That just flies in the face of everything they have done with the bunker the last 10 years.”

Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien said: "I think if that happens on the 10 metre line or on the tryline, the rule should be the same all the way down the field.

"I don't understand it. If that had happened down there (on the tryline), it would have been pulled back, I imagine."

O'Brien said Cobbo's first try was not the reason for the Knights' loss but admitted that it left Newcastle reeling.

"Because that happened, it's inexcusable for us to sort of turn it up there (at the end)," he said.

"I get that it took a bit of wind out of the sails."

with AAP

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