Angry rugby league fans have taken to social media to slam the six-again rule in the wake of St George Illawarra's controversial win against the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
Footy fans were left fuming after the Raiders were denied a penalty in front of the goalposts in the dying moments of their 12-10 loss to the Dragons.
DEVASTATING: Maroons rocked by huge blow ahead of Origin III
'HUGE NEWS': NRL world erupts over Latrell Mitchell announcement
'HORRIBLE': Trent Robinson rips into referee Gerard Sutton
Joe Tapine was tackled five metres out from the Dragons try line with six seconds left but Jack Bird and captain Ben Hunt deliberately laid over the top of the Raiders prop.
While signalling a six-again to restart the tackle count, referee Peter Gough failed to award Canberra a penalty to potentially tie the game up when Hunt dashed out from marker from an offside position to shut down Raiders hooker Tom Starling and end the game.
The dramatic end to the match exposed the glaring issue with the six-again rule, in that the Dragons knew they could deliberately slow down the play and deny the Raiders opportunities, without fear of giving away a penalty.
“Canberra can’t believe it, surely there was a penalty there at the death. They got the set restart, they wanted the penalty to get two points to send this to golden point,” Fox League commentator Warren Smith said.
“There is a bit to look at here and not the first time here at this venue a controversial call with time expiring between the Raiders and the Dragons.
“Canberra in disbelief and the Dragons so much relief that they’ve hung on here.”
Melbourne Storm star Brandon Smith - speaking on the Matty Johns Show after the match - exposed the farcical nature of the six-again rule and a potential loophole that the Raiders could have exploited in the situation.
“This is where a six-again is not really a great asset for you as a team,” Smith said.
“But I think if you just knock the ball on — I don’t think it’s legal — but if you pretend to knock the ball on I think they get a two-point conversion.”
League world fumes over six-again drama
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said in his post-match press conference that he expected an apology from the NRL over the drama.
“I only needed to see it once. But tomorrow I’ll get an apology,” Stuart said.
“When you’re in high-performance business, there’s always going to be pressure, and when there’s pressure you need courage and there needed to be courage on that ruling on the last play of the day.”
Fans were also left seething after the game, with many imploring the NRL to re-think the contentious six-again rule.
6-again rule a farce in that situation. Should have been a penalty to Canberra to level the scores #nrlDragonsRaiders
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) July 3, 2022
That is the problem with the 6 again rule. Dragons give away intentional penalty to slow down the last play of the game, knowing it will be a six again instead of a penalty. Down by 2, Raiders would kick a goal in front & sent it to golden point. Will be huge in a final #NRL
— Jake Duke (@JakeDuke1) July 3, 2022
A set restart with 10 seconds to go when down by two points under the posts is the precise argument against the six again rule.
And the explanation at the time of introduction from the NRL: We can still blow penalties if they are warranted. #NRLDragonsRaiders
— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) July 3, 2022
Called it over two years ago 🤦♂️
The end of Raiders/Dragons game was an inevitable result of one of the dumbest rule changes in the history of Australian sport. Congrats everyone involved in bringing the six again into rugby league.
Good job, well done. 👍 https://t.co/ZgLA0emNEY
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) July 3, 2022
— Paul Johnson (@pjohnson_sports) July 3, 2022
One of the main culprits who undid the Raiders hard work was five-eighth Jack Wighton, who is expected to be named in the NSW State of Origin squad on Monday.
Wighton struggled to impose himself on the game - his first since missing State of Origin II with COVID-19 - making four errors and enduring a torrid time with the boot in horrendous conditions.
The 29-year-old gifted the Dragons their first try of the afternoon when he tapped a short dropout back into the hands of Talatau Amone and also failed to make touch from a penalty kick with the game in the balance.
Amone's 18th minute try and one on the stroke of halftime to Moses Suli were enough to get the Dragons home.
Xavier Savage scored in the first half for Canberra with Hudson Young making it 12-10 in the 54th minute.
Wighton's errors proved costly for Canberra's hopes of getting a winner but they did get one last crack at the Dragons' line, only for Hunt and Bird to slow Tapine down and kill the game.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.