NRL fans left raging after Knights dudded in 'disgraceful' Kalyn Ponga moment in loss

Many felt Newcastle should have been awarded a penalty with the game on the line against the Roosters.

Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has bemoaned a controversial late refereeing call that went against his side in their 22-20 NRL loss to the Roosters on Thursday night. Kalyn Ponga made a line break from his own end with just 90 seconds remaining, and was dragged down by Junior Pauga near the halfway line.

With Ponga keen to get a quick play-the-ball to help his side try and snatch victory at the death, Pauga appeared to have a second dip to hold Ponga down, while Angus Crichton also came in late to slow things down. Many felt Crichton's actions warranted a penalty at least, and some felt he should have been sin-binned for a professional foul.

Kalyn Ponga in action for the Knights against the Roosters in the NRL.
NRL fans and commentators felt the Knights should have been awarded a penalty after Kalyn Ponga's late break. Image: Fox League/AAP

Crucially, referee Gerard Sutton didn't call held until after Pauga's second attempt, with the referee of the belief that the Roosters winger fell off the initial tackle. This would have meant Ponga was free to keep running, and Pauga and Crichton had every right to go on with the tackle.


But the vast majority felt Ponga was held when he went to ground under Pauga's initial tackle, and were left crying foul that Newcastle weren't awarded a penalty. It would have given them a shot at slotting a penalty goal from 45m out to knot the score at 22-22 and send the game to extra-time.

Instead they butchered their chance to score a try and win the game after Sutton called play on. Knights fans in attendance were left fuming over the referee's inaction, loudly booing the whistle-blower after full-time.

Newcastle Knights coach bemoans late refereeing call

O'Brien said the refereeing ultimately didn't cost his side because they were poor, but he did feel they should have received a penalty. “I empathise, these fans, they know footy," he said in his press conference. "I don’t think I’ve heard a stadium so frustrated, never heard booing like that at the end of a game so there must be something in it.

“Obviously the Kalyn one at the end stands out, you’d like to think that (is penalised) as a professional foul, sin bin, and we kick the goal… I think it was pretty clear, that one. With the ruck speed, it just felt like there were two different standards there. Not taking anything away from them, they work hard at their defence and stack really well, but just felt like we didn’t get many rewards.”

Roosters players, pictured here celebrating after their controversial win over the Knights.
Roosters players celebrate after their controversial win over the Knights.

O'Brien conceded: “Whingeing about this tonight isn’t going to help anyone, it doesn’t help these guys. There was some stuff that we needed to do better and stuff I needed to do better, I think I got the interchanges wrong in the first half. So it’s not all that (decision at the end) but I’ve got a really disappointed dressing room that fought bloody hard tonight and me whingeing in here ain’t going to help them.”

NRL fans in uproar over 'disgraceful' missed call

The Roosters also had a right to be fuming with the refereeing after the Bunker ignored a blatant high tackle on Lindsay Collins late in the game. The Roosters challenged a knock-on call against Collins because he was struck in the face in the tackle, and while the Bunker acknowledged the contact the Roosters weren't given a penalty.

It would have seen them take a gift two points, which would have rendered a late Knights penalty goal meaningless anyway. But if Crichton was sin-binned like many felt he should have been, the Knights would have been attacking against 12 players in the final set of the game. Some also questioned whether the Roosters should have been penalised for holding down in the last set on their line, with fans labelling the outcome a 'disgrace'.