Former NRL referee Gavin Badger has hit out on social media after Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco was caught up in controversy in the wake of his side's elimination final victory over Cronulla on Saturday night. The Roosters ended the Sharks' season with a gutsy 13-12 victory in which Tedesco charged down one of two field goal attempts from Nicho Hynes that could have sent the game into extra time.
Sam Walker's own field goal helped the depleted Roosters win the contest against the odds, with the Sharks left to rue several missed opportunities - most notably when they chose to take two points when Tedesco was still in the sin bin. Hynes starred for Cronulla after setting up both of his side's tries, but endured a horror end to the match after seeing two field goal opportunities from 25 metres out charged down.
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One of those attempts saw Tedesco race off his tryline to throw himself at Hynes in the final four minutes of the contest. Rugby League social media account 'The Mole' commented on a screenshot of the incident moments after the Sharks had played the ball at dummy half, which tried to prove that Tedesco was offside in the match-defining play.
"Oh dear... look how far offside Teddy is!" The Mole account said in response to the post from an NRL fan with the screenshot of Tedesco. The problem - as Badger argued - was that the image was taken after the ball had already cleared the ruck, with the former referee slamming critics for trying to drum up controversy where there was none.
"Come on mate, you can’t use a screenshot that is after when the ball has cleared the ruck to try and create controversy," Badger tweeted. "This is why people are off rugby league journalists. How about reporting on what a great game it was."
Come on mate, you can’t use a screenshot that is after when the ball has cleared the ruck to try and create controversy. This is why people are off rugby league journalists. How about reporting on what a great game it was.
— Gavin Badger (@Thebadge72) September 9, 2023
Badger refereed more than 400 games in the NRL before hanging up his whistle in 2020. He also shut down critics who pointed out that Tedesco only had one foot on the line when the ball cleared the ruck - with Badger pointing out that meant Tedesco was onside by the laws of the game.
"See, this is the problem. No one seems to know the laws but want to jump@up and down when they are applied," he continued. "Ball is clear of the ruck when it passes behind the foot of the person playing the ball. The referee actually calls go when this happens.... only need one foot in the goal line to be onside.'
Cronulla left to rue missed opportunities
The Sharks were left to rue their decision-making after suffering an eighth loss in nine finals matches since their 2016 premiership success. The call not to try and put the game to bed by going for a try when Tedesco was still in the bin will no doubt leave Cronulla with a few sleepless nights.
"Obviously I'm disappointed... but I think we're starting to grow up as a footy team," Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon said after the match. "We asked a few questions (with Tedesco off the field), they scrambled pretty well."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson hailed the one-point triumph as one of the "gutsiest" wins from the club during his time in charge. It came after the Tri Colours lost Joseph Suaalii to a concussion and Joey Manu to a hamstring injury.
Back-rowers Siua Wong and Angus Crichton had to defend in the centres and playmaker Sandon Smith needed to resort to fullback when Tedesco was in the bin. 'Fifth string' goal-kicker Billy Smith also showed nerves of steel to kick the goal to make it 12-12 late in the contest, before Walker's field goal heroics set up a showdown with the Melbourne Storm in week two of the finals.
"Gutsiest, yeah. There were many ways to lose that game, and they found a way to win," Robinson said about his side's display. "Prettiest? I'd like to play better footy, and we will play better footy next week.
"The purist in how you want to play footy, you can pick that apart as much as you like. But the spirit a team plays with, that is of the highest order." The Roosters now travel to Melbourne for a Friday night showdown against the Storm, who were hammered 26-0 by Brisbane in last week's qualifying final at Suncorp Stadium.
NRL Week 2 Finals schedule:
Melbourne Storm v Sydney Roosters - Friday 7.50pm, AAMI Park
Warriors v Newcastle Knights - Saturday 4.05pm (AEST), Go Media Stadium
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