Rugby League fans up in arms over 'joke' decision at World Cup

Anthony Gelling, pictured here scoring a try at the Rugby League World Cup despite appearing to knock on.
Anthony Gelling was awarded a try at the Rugby League World Cup despite appearing to knock on. Image: Fox League

Controversy has erupted at the Rugby League World Cup after Papua New Guinea were awarded a contentious try against the Cook Islands.

PNG captain Rhyse Martin played a key role in keeping his country's World Cup hopes alive with a 32-16 win over the Cook Islands on Tuesday.

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The Kumuls skipper scored a try and kicked four goals in front of 6273 fans at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington as PNG bounced back from last week's narrow loss to Tonga.

However many believed that PNG should have won by more after Cook Islands star Anthony Gelling was awarded a controversial try in the dying stages.

The on-field referee awarded Gelling the try after he spun out of a tackle and attempted to ground the ball with his back towards the in-goal.

Replays appeared to clearly show that Geeling actually dropped the ball and didn't get any downward pressure, but the video referee inexplicably confirmed the on-field call.

“The Kumuls are really not happy with that, for me he didn’t seem to have control of it when he grounded it,” James Graham said in commentary for Fox League.

“Another controversial decision that goes against the Kumuls.”

Andrew Voss added: “They are shaking their heads saying 'when are the rugby league gods going to shine a light on us'.

"I can’t give that a try. It is going towards the dead ball line, the way he is pushing the ball.”

Fans were also highly critical of the decision, with many labelling it a 'joke'.

Rhyse Martin narrowly misses out on rugby league history

Meanwhile, Martin narrowly missed the chance to break the world record for consecutive conversions.

Martin's failed to convert a Rodrick Tai try in the 14th minute. denying him a place in the record books with 42 back-to-back successful goals.

"Things happen for a reason and I have to start again now," said Martin, whose streak went all the way back to July with club side Leeds.

"I'm happy we got the win tonight and hopefully I can break (the record) next year.

"I felt we got distracted a little bit in the first half but defensively we were solid.

"We've been working hard. We got to a quarter-final at the last World Cup and want to go one better."

Centre Justin Olam was taken off in the second half after scoring a late try but coach Stanley Tepend said it was due to cramp.

Lachlan Lam, pictured here celebrating with teammates after scoring for PNG against Cook Islands.
Lachlan Lam celebrates with teammates after scoring for PNG against Cook Islands. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images for RLWC)

Tai scored the opener when he went 80 metres off a 20-metre tap but his finish in the corner meant Martin was unable to add the extras.

He was followed over the line by playmaker Kyle Laybutt.

Despite a late try in the first half to Paul Ulberg, the Cook Islands could not keep pace with the Kumuls who broke away after half-time with tries to Martin, Lachlan Lam, Tai and Olam.

Gelling and Kayal Iro scored late but they were left to rue Reubenn Rennie's sin-binning for a lifting tackle.

The Cook Islands must now upset group D heavyweights Tonga if they are to advance to the knockout stages.

"We tried hard but we probably lacked intensity in the first 10 minutes," head coach Tony Iro said.

"We've got another game and that's all we can focus on. I know the boys are keen to play another island nation and we've got something to prove."

with AAP

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