Rugby league fans and commentators alike were left flabbergasted by the decision to sin-bin South Sydney’s Cody Walker for an open-hand shot to the face of Manly’s Jack Gosiewski.
The fans’ outrage in the first half continued in the second, with the referees controversially sending Jake Trbojevic for a dubious professional foul.
It was Rabbitohs fans who cried foul in the first 40 minutes though, after Jack Gosiewski slammed Adam Doueihi’s face into the turf when he was dragged over the goal line.
Walker and Dane Gagai immediately remonstrated, with a small melee ensuing.
Bizarrely, Walker copped 10 minutes in the bin for his slap on Gosiewski, but South Sydney won a penalty for the unneccesary contact with Doueihi.
Channel 9’s commentary team labelled the decision to sin-bin Walker ‘political correctness on the field’, but sideline reporter Billy Slater disagreed.
The Melbourne Storm champion said Walker needed to be smarter about the way he backed up his teammates.
“Cody Walker needs to ask himself what’s more important - feeling good about slapping someone, or the semi-final that’s at stake,” Slater said.
“He’s got to control his emotions in that situation"
Fans on social media were less complimentary of the decision to sned Walker from the ground.
Sin bin and receive the penalty. That’s a joke.— Jo (@shua398) September 20, 2019
So if I've got the ball and palm a tackler away I get an auto sendoff? But its ok to pick a blokes head up and smash it into the ground when tackling— Peter Snappy (@psnappy_peter) September 20, 2019
Fans could be heard chanting at referee Gerard Sutton to send Gosiewski from the ground as well, but he instead opted to award Souths a penalty.
The decision turned out to be a crucial one, with the Sea Eagles crossing for a try soon after through Daly Cherry-Evans.
Third sin-bin leaves fans irate
Jake Trbojevic became the third player to be sin-binned in the elimination final against South Sydney.
The Sea Eagles star was called for a dubious professional foul on Dane Gagai as the Rabbitohs broke through the defence.
Trbojevic collided with Gagai well behind the play, with Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans seen admonishing referee Gerard Sutton soon after.
Manly’s Brad Parker was sent for 10 minutes for tripping in between the two more controversial calls.
The Trbojevic call will no doubt be a talking point in the coming days, with the Rabbitohs breaking a 26-all deadlock with just over 10 minutes to play.
Fans and commentators alike were quick to condemn the call, with veteran Daily Telegraph scribe Dean Ritchie saying the refereeing was ‘destroying a great game’.
Refs absolutely destroying a great game.— Dean Ritchie (@BulldogRitchie) September 20, 2019
This is an elimination final!!
What has happened to our once wonderful game?
Unbelievable mate. Im a roosters fan so no impact for me but this is a great game; doesn’t deserve this— John Pappas (@thejohnpappas) September 20, 2019
The sin binning of Trbojevic is unfortunate for Manly, particularly as it seems to have been timed exactly as they started running out of gas.— Man Vs Bookies (@ManVsBookies) September 20, 2019
Fair chance they were gonna get run over regardless but there'll be plenty of finger pointing at the refs tomorrow