Fans and commentators were left in disbelief on Wednesday night when the State of Origin opener ended in farcical fashion.
With Queensland clinging onto an 18-14 lead and NSW on the attack, James Tedesco was tackled with the ball with about five seconds left.
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NSW were desperate to get one final play in, however a number of Queensland players laid on the tackle in a deliberate attempt to make sure time expired.
At least three players came in and flopped on the tackled player late, holding Tedesco down for far too long under normal circumstances.
However referee Gerard Sutton inexplicably failed to blow a penalty, calling full-time instead.
Even Queensland great Cooper Cronk couldn’t believe there was no penalty called.
“Just that controversial little finish there towards the end,” Cronk said on Fox League.
“With a couple of seconds to go there was about five Queensland Maroons basically giving away the penalty waiting for the clock to run down.
“Gerard Sutton should have blown a penalty and given NSW maybe two seconds to set up for one play because that was an infringement that needed to be pulled up.
“Sutton should have - and I don’t want to say this because I’m a Queenslander - should have blown the penalty and stopped the game because having five people in a tackle like that hardly ever happens.
“So that tells me it’s intentional, and should have given NSW one shot at glory to see if they can win it.”
Paul Kent lashes ‘unacceptable’ refereeing gaffe
There was also confusion that Sutton called full-time when the Channel Nine game clock showed 79:58.
It came just moments after Felise Kaufusi was sin-binned for a similarly deliberate act to slow NSW down in the final stages.
However Kaufusi lingered on the field for a number of seconds, seemingly attempting to let his teammates catch their breath.
NRL 360 host Paul Kent slammed Sutton’s handling of the situation, declaring he should be stripped of refereeing duties for game two.
“Gerard Sutton needs to lose the game for the next game,” Kent said.
“He shouldn’t control Origin again after that. He totally lost it there.
“Kaufusi was just belligerent and refused to go off the field and pretended he didn’t know what was going on. Sutton should have got him off.
“And then in the last minute NSW actually passed the ball with time on the clock from dummy half. Then the siren rang with the ball in play and he whistled full-time. It doesn’t make sense.”
Kent called the final seconds of play “unacceptable”.
“Watch Kaufusi, he’s been told there, go,” Kent said. “Still doesn’t move, still doesn’t move, he gets slightly out of the picture, he’s only got three metres to walk to the sideline here, still on the field, looks back.
“That should have been changed to an immediate dismissal. He should be penalised by the NRL for that and then to see referee Sutton get it wrong again here.
“Queensland were great, Queensland deserved to win but it’s just unacceptable at this level of the sport that it’s officiated this way.”
Fans were also left seething.
The tackle was completed. Why were three players allowed to then flop on top to slow down play? #Origin
— Damien McCartney (@DamienMcCartney) November 4, 2020
5 guys intentionally laying on a player for 10 seconds and they don’t call a penalty and stop the clock? That’s an all time joke #Origin
— Lachlan Brunton (@lachlanBrunton) November 4, 2020
How was Qld allowed to just stacks on Tedesco there? Should’ve been a penalty. We didn’t deserve the W but still #Origin
— Josh Barnett 🇦🇺 (@v8tiger) November 4, 2020
That last tackle demonstrates the biggest flaw of the 6 Again rule. Refs hesitant to call a penalty because it’s a 6-Again by the books, but the 6-Again is no good with no time on the clock. #Origin
— Thomas Beauchamp (@T_Beauchamp23) November 4, 2020
— Emma H 🥀 (@EmmaH1123) November 4, 2020
— Mike M (@michaeldarren79) November 4, 2020
— Emma H 🥀 (@EmmaH1123) November 4, 2020
I'll preface this with NSW wouldn't have scored off that final play. But that is atrocious refereeing from Sutton, if that's not a penalty for slowing the ruck then it's still an early call. Crazy #Origin #NRL
— Louis Dillon (@LouisDillon5) November 4, 2020
Horrible disgrace from the ref calling full time when the Blues had already played the ball before the buzzer... And other constantly holding ons from the QLD that were never called . #StateOfOrigin
— TJ (@x_xTIGER_TANK) November 4, 2020
Queensland pull off astonishing upset
Queensland's unlikely bunch of rookies have pulled off a State of Origin miracle in the city of churches, coming from behind to claim a famous 18-14 win over NSW.
Fielding eight debutants and the biggest outsiders for an Origin match in more than 20 years, Queensland looked gone at 10-0 down at halftime on Wednesday night at Adelaide Oval.
But that's where the comeback kicked in for the series opener front of 25,218 fans at Adelaide Oval.
The Maroons scored three tries in the space of 14 minutes minutes, with Kurt Capewell superb on debut with man-of-the-match Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster just as influential.
NSW put themselves back in the match late when Josh Addo-Carr completed his double, but the Maroons held out a late attacking raid to go 1-0 up in the series.
The triumph is arguably one of Wayne Bennett's finest coaching performances, given the Maroons on paper looked a shadow of their great teams of yesteryear.
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