NRL fans in disbelief over 'pathetic' controversy: 'What a joke'

Dragons players, pictured here pleading with the referee after their loss to the Raiders.
Dragons fans thought they should have had a penalty in their loss to the Raiders. Image: Fox League

NRL fans were left in disbelief on Sunday when the Raiders beat the Dragons in highly controversial scenes that echoed the dramas of the two sides' previous clash earlier this year.

Canberra ended a tumultuous week on a high after holding on to beat St George Illawarra 24-22 to keep their NRL season alive.

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With coach Ricky Stuart banned from attending GIO Stadium and speaking to his players as part of the fallout from his tirade at Penrith's Jaeman Salmon, Canberra survived a late scare to finish round 22 just one game outside the top-eight.

However the result didn't come without controversy after the Dragons threatened to steal the game at the death.

After Matt Feagai made a break downfield and was dragged down 20 metres out with just three seconds remaining, it looked as though Corey Harawira-Naera had held onto the tackle too long.

Feagai dropped the ball as he was trying to get to his feet, with Dragons players pleading for a penalty due to the actions of Harawira-Naera - who also had his hand on the ball.

However referee Adam Gee called full-time, leaving Dragons players exasperated.

The controversial finish echoed the one that played out in Round 16 when the Dragons beat the Raiders in Wollongong.

On that occasion it was Ben Hunt who looked to have infringed when the Raiders were attacking in the dying stages, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley later admitting that Hunt should have been penalised and sin-binned for deliberately slowing the Raiders down.

Dragons players, pictured here remonstrating with Adam Gee after the Dragons' loss to the Raiders.
Dragons players remonstrate with Adam Gee after the Dragons' loss to the Raiders. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) (Mark Nolan via Getty Images)

“That's Round 16 all over again in reverse," Brenton Speed said in commentary for Fox League.

"The Dragons are thinking ‘where’s our penalty’ that the Raiders did not get in Wollongong but Adam Gee says that is full-time and Canberra’s season is still alive and the Dragons are done.”

Braith Anasta said after the game: “He should have been penalised at the very least for a professional foul."

Greg Alexander added: “There was just one last shove from (Harawira-Naera), because as Feagai was getting tackled the clock was ticking down... but there was a little shove.

“It’s incredible that we’ve had both teams win games in very similar circumstances.”

Fans were also left seeing red, particularly considering Annesley had expressed his desire for that exact situation to be a penalty in the past rather than a six-again call that would simply run down the clock.

Others pointed out that the clock might have hit zero before the infringement anyway.

Anthony Griffin says non-penalty call 'ironic'

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said it was 'ironic' given what transpired in Round 16.

“Nah, it’s probably a little bit ironic compared to the first game," he said.

“We just ran out of time, it was a fantastic line break at that time of the game and the captain did everything he could with his kicking game to get us into field position and put Matty away.

“We just needed one more play the ball but that’s the way the world works.”

Jaydn Su'A and Talatau Amone, pictured here after the Dragons' loss to the Raiders.
Jaydn Su'A and Talatau Amone look on dejected after the Dragons' loss to the Raiders. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) (Mark Nolan via Getty Images)

The loss removes the Dragons' from the finals equation, having won just one of their past six matches in a disappointing end to their year.

They hit the front in the first half as Talatau Amone twice capitalised on soft Canberra defensive efforts to score tries, and he completed his hat-trick in the second.

"(Amone) was outstanding, it's been a tough year for 'Junior', first year as a full-time starting five-eighth ... in our most important game of the year I thought he really stood up which is great," Griffin said.

"(Against) good sides playing away from home, we just gave them points too easily at different times and it was too hard to reel back.

"But that's not to question the character we showed all day."

with AAP

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