Even Storm coach Craig Bellamy had to admit his side got lucky with a crucial refereeing blunder from Ashley Klein in Melbourne's 18-13 semi-final win over the Roosters on Friday night. The Storm sent the Roosters packing in controversial scenes, after their second try came off the back of a blatant knock-on.
Klein allowed play to continue despite having a perfect view of Harry Grant knocking the ball on. The referee then gave the Storm a penalty not long after, which they used to march downfield and score via Marion Seve.
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NRL fans and commentators were left fuming over Klein's blunder, with many saying there's no way he can be trusted with the grand final duties. Speaking in his post-match press conference, Bellamy admitted Grant got away with one, but had a gripe of his own to point out.
Ashley Klein genuinely missed this knock on, bloke is 2ft away and Storm go on to score 👏🏻
This is the finals of our competition, this shirt is unacceptable #NRL #NRLStormRoosters pic.twitter.com/UGmYDPHkT5
— Hynesight (@Hynesight7) September 15, 2023
The Storm coach couldn't believe his side weren't awarded a penalty in the dying stages when Grant was hit in the face with a high shot. Klein initially missed the high contact, and the Bunker also failed to intervene despite Grant staying down in an attempt to win a penalty.
With the Roosters up 13-12 at the time, a penalty would have given the Storm a shot at goal to make it 14-13. Luckily for Bellamy's men they scored not long after when Will Warbrick latched onto a cross-field kick from Cameron Munster.
"I didn't have a look at the replay, but I thought live it looked like a knock on," Bellamy admitted about Grant's error that wasn't called. "As I said, I thought Harry did drop that ball and it was a big call, but it is hard to blame the referee for everything. He has touch judges and a guy in the bunker. At the end of the day, I can't really control any of that and I don't really want to."
Craig Bellamy comments on refereeing controversies
In regards to the high tackle, Bellamy said: "He got hit high. Nearly every game this year it would have been a penalty.
"If we get beaten by a point, I think we'd be talking more about it, but that said, I don't want to sweep it under the carpet either. At the end of the day, if there are different rules in the finals, just let us know."
Klein later appeared to apologise to Tedesco for missing Grant's knock on. "It was pretty clear it was dropped. He was right there, it hit the ground, what can you do?" Roosters coach Trent Robinson said in his press conference.
"It was an error, and they went down the other end and scored. We should have also stopped that, but it would have been a try-scoring opportunity to us 10 metres out from the line and in finals games they are always critical.
"Being really clear, we don't expect 50-50s. It's not the way it has gone statistically in the competition. That's not a big issue for us. We should have gone down and defended the play at the end of it. They shouldn't have scored from a penalty ten metres off their own line and we should have been better."
Tedesco added: "He just said he called it as he saw it. I was 30 metres away and could see that he dropped it, but he was right there. It's hard when you can't have a conversation at the back. That's how he saw it, but I think it was pretty obvious."
Absolutely disgraceful game-changing refreeeing blunder not to call Harry Grant blatant knock on.
Klein CANNOT do grand final
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) September 15, 2023
— John Rheinberger 🇺🇦 (@RheinbergerJohn) September 15, 2023
What a terrible call from Ashley Klein, Grant didn’t even come close to regathering that
— Kyle (@kyle_waller2) September 15, 2023
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