NRL: Refs admit, 'We got it wrong - again'

By Steve Jancetic

The most famous error was the awarding of Greg Inglis's match-sealing try. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The most famous error was the awarding of Greg Inglis's match-sealing try. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The crisis engulfing the NRL's whistleblowers has flowed through to the playoffs with referees boss Stuart Raper admitting officials got it wrong again in awarding the try that clinched Manly's preliminary final berth.

A review of Michael Oldfield's second try in Friday night's 22-12 win over North Queensland concluded Sea Eagles five-eighth Kieran Foran knocked on in the lead-up - yet another black mark for the on-field decision-makers.

And it appears veteran officials Paul Simpkins and Steve Clark could pay for the blunder which ended North Queensland's season and sent the Sea Eagles into a grand final qualifier against Melbourne.

"We simply have to put our hands up and accept that this is not an acceptable outcome in such an important game," Raper said.

"Bill (fellow co-coach Bill Harrigan) and I have reviewed things and while we accept the video referees were faced with an incredibly tough decision, there was sufficient evidence to suggest Foran made contact with the ball.

"That will inevitably lead to the officials in question paying the penalty for that outcome in coming weeks."

Harrigan said errors such as the one that buried the Cowboys' season were unacceptable.

"We just need to get these things right and that is what we will be trying to do," he said.

The NRL season has been blighted by refereeing errors, the tone set in the opening weekend after which three officials were stood down as a result of gaffes.

The most famous error was the awarding of Greg Inglis's match-sealing try in the opening State of Origin clash in Melbourne, which saw Sean Hampstead given the week off.

Hampstead was stood down for a second time when he incorrectly awarded a try in Canterbury's round 24 win over Wests Tigers - a result which all but killed off the Tigers' finals charge.

"I'd say they are incompetent, and I am not on my own there," Cowboys coach Neil Henry said of the referees after Friday night's loss. "We've said all year they are not up to the mark."

While increased coverage has resulted in scrutiny on the men in the middle being higher than ever, what is proving most disconcerting is the fact that many of the errors are coming from those in the video referees' box, where time and technology is on the referee's side.

Coaches have admitted to feeling the outcome of video refereeing decisions is a lottery.

The ARL Commission conducted a mid-season review of the positions held by Raper and Harrigan amid rumblings that senior officials had lost confidence under their direction.

Interim ARLC chief executive Shane Mattiske said refereeing standards were an area of ongoing scrutiny. "The time to review refereeing is not in the atmosphere of post-match debate but it is important that we take stock of the entire season and do all we can to ensure that players, fans and coaches can have confidence in the process," Mattiske said.

Raper said he was happy enough with the "benefit of the doubt" call to award Jorge Taufua's try five minutes before Oldfield's controversial four-pointer.

Earlier, North Queensland officials said they would formally write to the ARLC calling for an overhaul of NRL officiating. The decisions led to Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston telling referee Shayne Hayne that his team had been robbed twice.


-AAP

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