Explained: Why the referee blew full-time 'early' in State of Origin

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Referee Gerard Sutton (pictured right) giving a penalty and Boyd Cordner (pictured left) passing the ball during the final moments of State of Origin game One.
Referee Gerard Sutton (pictured right) has come under fire for the mayhem (pictured left) during the final moments of the first State of Origin game. (Image: Channel Nine/Getty Images)

Blues fans were left seething at the referee after a frantic finish to Game One of State of Origin when a second-half resurgence from Queensland blew them out of the water.

Fans were left bewildered when referee Gerard Sutton called time on the game, despite what appeared a clear penalty from Queensland in the dying moments.

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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.

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.

But while the lack of penalty even miffed Maroons legend Cooper Cronk, fans were also stunned because time was called when there was around two seconds left on the Channel Nine broadcast clock.

However, an NRL statement provided to the Sydney Morning Herald claimed the referee receives a countdown from the time-keeper, which can slightly differ from the broadcast clock.

“The referee gets a 10-second countdown from the match-day coach in their ear at the end of every half, based off the time-keeper,” an NRL spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The referee calls full-time off that, not the siren or the scoreboard timer.”

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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.”

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