NRL boss' shocking admission after Tigers and Dragons dudded in 'disgraceful' drama

Graham Annesley has conceded there were three incorrect calls that cost teams in round 23.

From left to right, a controversial 'no try' to the Dragons in the NRL and Tigers coach Tim Sheens.
Both the Dragons and Tim Sheens' Tigers found themselves on the wrong end of controversial calls in round 23 of the NRL. Pic: Getty

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has admitted the Wests Tigers, Dragons and Dolphins were all on the receiving end of incorrect refereeing calls in their respective losses last weekend. Fans flocked to social media in disgust after a number of controversial calls proved costly for the NRL strugglers. A number of questionable refereeing decisions have come under fire over a chaotic weekend that saw two players sent off and a number of sin-binnings dished out across the eight games.

The standard of officiating in the NRL was again put under the microscope on Sunday as the last-placed Tigers went down to the Canberra Raiders in a 22-18 heartbreaker, while fellow strugglers the Dragons were overrun by the fast-finishing Parramatta Eels, who prevailed 20-10. Both games were dogged by controversy, with the Tigers fuming after the Raiders scored off an apparent forward pass and the Dragons seething over a knock-on call against Jacob Liddle they thought should have been awarded a try.

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An irate Tigers coach Tim Sheens claimed in his post-match press conference that Canberra actually scored off two forward pass tries - both involving Jack Wighton. The first was perhaps lineball but the second looked more obvious as the ball came out of the five-eighth's hands forwards, before bouncing even further forward into the arms of teammate Sebastian Kris, who raced away to score a crucial try.

“I was pretty disappointed with a few of the decisions. I’ve got to congratulate Rick for coaching a side that didn’t give away one extra set of six, according to our statistician, so very good coaching,” Sheens said sarcastically.

“The first try I was a bit disappointed, I feel there was a forward pass in that try. There were a couple, there was one in the second half and the first try, that lead up pass, looking at it I was pretty unhappy with that so that’s something I’ll take up with the referees as I do every week."

On Monday afternoon, Annesley agreed with Sheens' assessment of Kris's second try. "As Jack Wighton passes this ball, if you look at the motion of the hands it appears to be forward," Annesley said as he described the pass in his weekly briefing at NRL headquarters.

"You can see the touch judge at the bottom of the screen who is pretty much in line with this ... looking at this one with the camera on the halfway line, I don't think you can reach much other conclusion than this was a forward pass."

Dragons dudded as fans slam 'disgraceful' refereeing calls

Dragons interim coach Ryan Carr was also seething over an incident that proved costly for his side against Parramatta. Dragons hooker Liddle was deemed to have knocked-on when Eels fullback Clint Gutherson appeared to strip the ball out of his hands, before Junior Amone scooped up the loose ball and planted it over the tryline.

The try would have helped the Dragons jump out to a 26-10 lead, but after being sent to the bunker as a 'no try', the officials ruled it a loose carry and therefore a knock-on from the Dragons. The Eels compounded the visitors' frustrations after staging a second half comeback to win 26-20, leaving Carr fuming and fans up in arms over the incidents from both games.

"You google 'strip' and it's hand on the ball, he strips it out. It's play on. It's a try every day of the week," Carr said. "It's ridiculous. If I say 'ridiculous', I'll probably get memed again but that's all right, that's all good.

"Maybe they (the match officials) have to come down and sit here and answer you guys (the media). I have to do a press conference, you ask me. I don't know the answer, so maybe they should come down and sit here and answer the questions for you so everyone in the whole world can understand why that wasn't a try."

Seen here, Dragons hooker Jacob Liddle pleads with the referee after a controversial knock-on call went against hi side.
Dragons hooker Jacob Liddle pleads with the referee after a controversial knock-on call went against hi side against the Eels. Pic: Getty

Annesley once again admitted that the officials got it wrong. "When you look at this closely, Gutherson is trying to make a tackle, there's no question about that," he said.

"You can see the (Gutherson's) fingers curl up on top of the ball and there is a raking motion that dislodges the ball. The action of Gutherson raking the ball and dispossessing Liddle means the tackle count should have restarted and that should have been a try."

And Annesley also conceded referee Grant Atkins wrongly pinged Dolphins prop Herman Ese'ese for holding a Newcastle player at a scrum late in their match, won 30-28 by the Knights. "Given where the ball goes and the fact no one is prevented from making that tackle and the defensive line would have time to reset, I think that's a very harsh penalty," Annesley said.

with AAP

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