Controversy has erupted in the NRL after a try awarded to Campbell Graham in South Sydney's win over the Dolphins left fans and commentators divided. The Rabbitohs overcame a 14-6 deficit to run over the top of the Dolphins in the second half, prevailing 36-14.
However the result didn't come without controversy, after Graham's try early in the second half to get the Rabbitohs back to 14-12 sparked uproar. Graham appeared to push Euan Aitken in the back before snatching a kick out of the air and crashing over for the try.
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Graham and Aitken were both moving in the direction of the ball and had eyes on the footy, and the incident appeared to be a simple collision with no-one at fault. The Bunker ruled it that way and the try stood, but many believed they saw Graham extend his arm and push Aitken.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) April 13, 2023
In commentary for Channel 9, Darren Lockyer said: “I think this is a penalty. They should be looking at that because he was taken out, Aitken.
“I’m surprised by that, because he had no chance to compete and protect (Kodi) Nikorima. He gets pushed out of the way. I’m surprised by that.”
Fellow Channel 9 commentator Mathew Thompson tweeted: “Well, I am baffled. Dismayed even. How is this a try when an ‘escort’ can be penalised for merely glancing a kick chaser? Utterly bizarre. Shocker.”
Brad Fittler added: "That's a penalty to the Dolphins. No try. But you know what? It's a lesson to Euan Aitken, he was doing this all night... he was forever trying to get him off his line. Go for the ball."
Former Dragons and Roosters halfback Jamie Soward wrote on Twitter: "How is that a try if he extends his arm and doesn’t give dolphins a chance to contest it. I’m confused.
"Sometimes we have one look at things for a try, others we have 100. Two tries tonight have needed at least a couple of looks. Both no tries for me."
I need Souths to win but……
‘Apparently he only had eyes for ball’
He knocked him out of the way in an illegal play
That’s not allowed under the rules
It’s a No Try every other game
— Richard Callander (@richieplz) April 13, 2023
How is that a try if he extends his arm and doesn’t give dolphins a chance to contest it.
— Jamie Soward (@sowwowofficial6) April 13, 2023
Campbell Graham knocked the defender over. I have no idea how the refs make their decisions anymore.
— norts (@nortssss) April 13, 2023
Definitely not a try, but wasn’t the reason the dolphins lost
— Arthur Dennison (@ArthurDennisonn) April 13, 2023
I can do whatever i want as long as i keep my eye on the ball.
— RichitiGrub (@WSWanderingEels) April 13, 2023
Yep, when you have Campbell Graham taking out a Dolphins player to score a try and he’s not penalised, of course the Bunnies will be unstoppable. What a total joke!
— Nick (@Nickeb001) April 13, 2023
Wayne Bennett hits out over Campbell Graham try
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett said in his post-match press conference: “It left me confused. It was a push in the back.
“Euan’s allowed to run the line he was running. He was going back in support. He wasn’t going anywhere else. Decision made, move on.”
However not everyone saw it that way. Speaking on Fox Sports, Cooper Cronk said: “The Dolphins players are complaining that he has obstructed one of the players coming through. But I’m going to say it’s fair game.
"Euan Aitken is the one that goes down but Campbell Graham, the whole time has his eyes on the ball. They’ll look at this but I think it’s a try.”
Fellow Queensland legend Cameron Smith also said he thought it was a fair try because Graham was looking at the ball and not the man. But Fox Sports commentator Warren Smith said: “He may have his eyes on the ball but the shove in the back just trampled Euan Aitken. Mark Nicolls looking at the ref like ‘sir, you need to have a look at that’."
The Graham try got the Rabbitohs back in the contest after a brilliant first half by the Dolphins. However Bennett's men unravelled when Kenny Bromwich was sin-binned for hitting Taane Milne in the head with his shoulder before he caught a high ball. The Rabbitohs scored five unanswered tries in the second half, including three while Bromwich was in the bin.
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