NRL world in uproar over 'disgraceful' drama in preliminary final

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
The Parramatta Eels, pictured here after being North Queensland in controversial scenes in the NRL.
The Parramatta Eels beat North Queensland in controversial scenes in the NRL preliminary final. Image: Getty

NRL fans and commentators are crying foul after the Parramatta Eels advanced to the grand final in controversial scenes against the Cowboys.

Parramatta's quest to end a 36-year premiership drought remains alive after the Eels beat North Queensland 24-20 in the preliminary final on Friday night.

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However the win was shrouded in controversy after the Eels scored the opening try from what many believed was a clear forward pass.

Mitchell Moses cleaned up a wayward pass before spinning and throwing the ball to Isaiah Papali'i with his back to the defence, with the ball appearing to go forward.

Papali'i then broke the line before setting up Will Penisini to score the opening points.

“Mitchell Moses swivelled and he swung around and the ball has gone forward,” Greg Alexander said in commentary for Fox League.

“The hands went forward, the ball went forward."

Speaking in commentary for Triple M, Queensland legend Wally Lewis was seething.

“I thought the pass was thrown way forward. That’s gone a metre and a half forward," he screamed.

“That is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. How could you miss it? He was standing virtually on a similar line.

“I mean sometimes a ball can float forward and you think, ‘Well maybe the referee’s made a judgement’. That was just like a bullet - it just went so forward.”

Mitchell Moses' pass, pictured here appearing to travel well forward.
Mitchell Moses' pass appeared to travel well forward. Image: Fox League

The controversial call was made all the more costly by the fact the Eels went on to win by just four points.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten said he believed the ball had gone forward upon initial viewing, but said his side had ample opportunities to overcome the call.

“My first instinct was I thought it was forward, but looking back on replay a couple of times, I thought it was pretty tight,” he said.

“It happened early enough in the game to get over it. We went in 12-all at half-time and 20-12 after 55 minutes, so we moved on pretty well.”

NRL world in uproar over 'disgraceful' controversy

Cameron Smith expressed similar sentiments on Channel 9.

“I believe the ball came out of his hands in a forward motion - maybe it went forward a metre, metre and a half,” the Melbourne Storm champion said.

“You can focus on that call and say that was the difference. But at the same time, the Cowboys had plenty of chances to score more points.

"They made some errors after that missed call. It’s one of a lot of things that happened throughout the match.

“I don’t think the Cowboys’ players and coaches sit down and say that’s the reason why we lost. I think they’ll look at their own performance and say, ‘We had opportunities to win the game, the opposition were just better.

“If you look at that as an isolated incident, you could probably think, ‘They scored the try, they kick the goal, they go up by six and we lose by four, that’s the reason we lost’. But I don’t think they will.”

Cowboys players, pictured here after their loss to Parramatta in the NRL preliminary final.
Cowboys players look on after their loss to Parramatta in the NRL preliminary final. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Parramatta trailed 20-12 early in the second half and appeared to be on their last legs in front of 25,372 raucous fans in the heat of Townsville.

But they found something special to rally in style when prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard crashed over for his second try.

When back-rower Shaun Lane threw a clever pass to winger Maika Sivo, the Eels had two tries in seven minutes and a 24-20 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Nevertheless, fans were up in arms over the opening try - pointing out that it ultimately cost the Cowboys a place in the grand final.

with AAP

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