NRL admit mistake during final minutes of Eels and Panthers clash

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
The Parramatta Eels (pictured right) looking dejected and (pictured right) Mitchell Moses being taken out of play.
The NRL has admitted the Parramatta Eels (pictured left) should have been awarded a penalty late in the match against the Penrith Panthers. (Images: Fox Sports/Getty Images)

The NRL has admitted the Eels should have been awarded a penalty in the closing stages of their knockout loss to the Panthers on Saturday night.

In a 40-minute press conference dedicated just to the controversial match, the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley led a defence of referee Ashley Klein and cleared four other controversial calls.

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He also confirmed the integrity unit were investigating if Penrith were right to stop play when Mitch Kenny was injured late in the game, halting Parramatta's momentum.

A report into that incident will be prepared for NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, with a determination expected as soon as Tuesday.

However, Eels fans will feel dismayed after Annesley admitted the Eels should have been awarded a penalty in the closing moments of the match.

With the Eels trailing Penrith 8-6 in the 68th minute, Blake Ferguson broke down the right hand edge.

But, support runner Mitchel Moses appeared to be impeded as Jarome Luai grabbed his jersey.

"We missed this, but that is clearly a penalty," Fox Sports commentator Braith Anasta said after the match.

Cooper Cronk agreed with Anasta.

The NRL admitted the Eels should have received a penalty after the Moses incident, which would have given the team and opportunity to level the match.

"This should have warranted a penalty," Annesley said.

"They jostle and there is the last grab from Luai that takes Moses off balance.

"I don't think it warrants anything more than a penalty."

NRL defend referee during Eels-Panthers clash

But Annesley insisted that was not on under-fire referee Ashley Klein or the bunker, and said it was a fault of the touch judge.

"For as long as I have been involved in the game back play is in the realm of the touch judge," Annesley said.

"The referee has to watch the ball carrier, and we had Ferguson make a break and kick back in side."

Annesley also wouldn't elaborate on whether Will Penisini had been taken out later in the same play, or if Penrith had knocked on in killing off the play.

But he did defend several other calls, including Will Kennedy's high shot on Liam Martin on halftime that let the Panthers take their two-point lead.

Likewise, he said Marata Niukore was rightly penalised for taking James Fisher-Harris off the ball, Ray Stone had knocked on out of dummy-half with 10 minutes to go and cleared a supposed strip in a Clint Gutherson tackle late.

The Panthers players celebrate during the NRL Semifinal match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BB Print Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Mackay, Australia.
The Panthers players celebrate during the NRL Semifinal match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BB Print Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Mackay, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

"These things aren't always as clear cut as we would like them to be," Annesley said.

"By the same token we can't just automatically jump to the conclusion it was wrong."

One major talking issue from the game involved Penrith's trainer stopping play.

Annesley said the NRL would review the protocols around trainers stopping play for injuries at the end of the season after the controversial incident.

Annesley would not comment on the Penrith incident, but explained a trainer can assess seriously injured players from the sideline before asking play to be stopped.

"Whether we will need to do more is something we will do at the end of the season," Annesley said.

"It's one of the really difficult ones in our game.

"Because obviously player safety and player welfare has to be paramount importance.

"But we have to make sure our rules can't be used for tactical advantage."

with AAP

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