Rugby League fans erupt over 'awful' World Cup call: 'Robbed'

Justin Olam (pictured right) tackled by Tonga's Tolu Koula at the Rugby League World Cup.
Justin Olam (pictured right) was delivered a 'no try', despite fans claiming Tonga's Tolu Koula performed a shoulder charge to deny PNG a try at the Rugby League World Cup. (Image: Fox Sports)

Rugby league great James Graham has led the disbelief after Papua New Guinea were disallowed a try against Tonga after a controversial tackle in a thrilling 24-18 loss at the World Cup.

In the closest game of the tournament so far, Tonga had to wait until the 78th minute for South Sydney's Keaon Koloamatangi, who played a lengthy stint at hooker, to touch down.

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The Kumuls, whose hooker Edwin Ipape was named man of the match, could have felt hard done by to have not emerged with the two points after holding their gloves up against a star-studded Tongan side.

And the controversial moment came in the 53rd minute when Tonga were leading PNG 18-12.

Melbourne Storm's Justin Olam dived towards the try line as Tonga's Tolu Koula collected the winger with a brutal hit and sent him crashing into the corner post.

Koula's tackle was controversial as there appeared little attempt to wrap his arm around Olam.

There was debate on whether Olam had placed the ball down first, before heading out of play.

"This is a try Vossy," Graham said looking at the replays.

However, the video referee had deemed the ball had touched the sideline and confirmed a No Try.

Tongas Moeaki Fotuaika (pictured) celebrates with his teammates at the Rugby League World Cup.
Tongas Moeaki Fotuaika (pictured) celebrates after scoring a try during the Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

The drama wasn't over.

The Rugby League world, including former England forward Graham, couldn't believe the video referee wasn't checking the shoulder charge.

"He never even looked at the tackle," commentator Andrew Voss said in disbelief.

"Wow. By the letter of the law he does not attempt to wrap his arm around the attacker," Graham added.

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Many in the rugby league world agreed with both Voss and Graham that the shoulder charge needed to be looked at during the replay.

Others suggested the 'shoulder charge' stopped a certain try and an eight point try should have been awarded.

Despite the controversial incident, PNG put in a stoic performance against the heavy hitting Tongans in front of 10,409 fans at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

PNG, who were $12 outsiders, had begun ominously when skipper Rhys Martin scored after six minutes.

Winger Daniel Russell, who was a late inclusion for Xavier Coates, was unlucky to not have not followed him over the line twice.

Tonga were under the pump and a Will Penisini try against the run of play sparked the small legion of fans decked out in red into a frenzy.

Moeaki Fotuaika and Isaiya Katoa both crossed off the back of long-range tries to put Tonga back in control with an 18-6 lead at halftime.

But PNG came out firing with Ipape sending haflback Lachlan Lam over straight after the break.

Edwin Ipape (pictured) speaks at a press conference after a Rugby League World Cup match.
Man-of-the-match Edwin Ipape (pictured) after the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool D match between Tonga and Papua New Guinea. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images for RLWC)

And despite having a try for winger Rodrick Tai chalked off, the Kumuls kept pushing and they got their reward when Toulatau Koula knocked on at a play-the-ball on the Tonga line.

PNG struck and after being denied twice earlier, Russell made no mistake with his third attempt, going over off a set play from a scrum.

Martin converted to square the game up at 18-18.

Katoa missed the chance to put Tonga ahead up with a 75th-minute penalty but to his relief his side didn't need it.

Pushing for a late try, the ball went through eight sets of hands, hit the ground four times before Siosiua Taukeiaho grubber kicked through for Koloamatangi to touch down.

with AAP

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