NRL admits refs cost Penrith Nines final

Pamela Whaley

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has been forced to admit a horror error by officials has robbed Penrith of a NRL Nines finals berth in the final seconds of their clash with St George Illawarra in Perth.

Lead official Ben Cummins pointed to the spot on Saturday to award the winning try to Dragons rookie Cody Ramsey, but replays showed the ball was planted in touch.

Cummins was advised by in-goal official Tim Roby that Ramsey had scored and, without a video official to check the decision, it was awarded to give the Dragons a 17-14 win at HBF Park.

In an interview with broadcaster Fox Sports after the game, Annesley said he was disappointed in the error but said using a video referee system in a Nines format is not feasible.

"You only had to look at the replay to realise that it wasn't a try. The officials got it wrong and that's disappointing," he said.

"There's three of them out there and, between the three of them, they've got to come up with the right decision.

"At the moment, I haven't dissected it. Bernard Sutton, the referees' coach, will do that. Ultimately, they got the decision wrong.

"They should have got it right. They're only human - they make mistakes. This is helter skelter football. It does demonstrate why we have video referees in the premiership proper and that's the way it is."

Annesley confirmed there was no avenue for appeal if an incorrect call was to be made in Saturday night's Nines Final.

Cummins was heavily criticised for an infamous "six again" call in the 2019 NRL grand final, which led to a match-winning try for the Sydney Roosters against Canberra.

In 2020, the NRL is looking at introducing a captain's challenge call to avoid potential howlers from officials.

"We've got as much support around officials through the bunker, video decisions, and we're talking at the moment about the introduction of a captain's challenge," Annesley said.

"All of those things are designed to get big decisions right. In this type of competition, it's a competition that revolves around continuity of play; it revolves around back-to-back games starting on time.

"If we had a video referee in play for this type of tournament, we'd probably be finishing at three o'clock tomorrow morning.

"It's a different type of tournament, but that doesn't diminish in any way the fact that they got the decision wrong. But they are human and they make mistakes."