NRL: Cowboys livid after controversial loss

Jorge Taufua scores for Manly during the NRL Semi Final match between the Sea Eagles and the North Queensland Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images
Jorge Taufua scores for Manly during the NRL Semi Final match between the Sea Eagles and the North Queensland Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images

Furious North Queensland coach Neil Henry has accused NRL referees of not being up to the standard the competition deserves after his side went down 22-12 to premiers Manly in Friday's semi-final at Allianz Stadium.

With the scores locked at 12-12, the Sea Eagles scored two contentious second-half tries to win the game and book a clash with the Storm in Melbourne next Friday for a place in the grand final.

Henry and his skipper Johnathan Thurston were livid after the game, following the decisions to award efforts by Jorge Taufua and Michael Oldfield.

Both were given the benefit-of-the-doubt by video referees Paul Simpkins and Steve Clark, with the Cowboys claiming Taufua made a double movement before touching down.

But the decision to give Oldfield's try left the visitors feeling robbed after Kieran Foran appeared to knock the ball forward from a Daly Cherry-Evans kick, allowing Jamie Lyon to bundle the ball towards Oldfield.

"The players in this competition have taken the game to the next level," Henry said.

"There is no question as the quality of our product, but we're not keeping pace in the officiating.

"Our season hung on a couple of decisions and I don't care if you put five in the video box.

"I am not saying they are biased, they are incompetent."

Thurston said he was angered by the loss and claimed during the game to referee Shayne Hayne that his side had: "Twice been robbed."

"Those decisions, they can't justify them, I am just gutted by them," Thurston said after the match.

Manly coach Geoff Toovey admitted his side got the rub of the green in the second half and sympathised with Henry.

However, he was equally unhappy with the decision that went against his side for the Cowboys' second try, claiming Taufua was stripped of the ball, with referee Shayne Hayne penalising the winger for a knock-on.

He insisted Manly deserved the win and said Foran had told him he didn't touch ball forward in the lead-up to Oldfield's try.

"I saw them as benefit-of-the-doubt tries, but I thought it would have not been awarded if was not a knock-on," Toovey said.

"There's so much coverage with all the cameras out there but the blokes in the middle have to make the calls. Maybe they can do something about that."

"Neil will be frustrated and I feel for him."

Kiwi international Foran insisted he didn't touch the ball as he jumped up with Thurston in the build up to the fourth try and said he was confident it would be awarded.

"I jumped up for it and Thurston kind of went for it at the same time, I didn't feel my hand touch it so he must have got a hand to it," Foran said.

"I was reasonably confident, provided Killer (Jamie Lyon) didn't have a hand on him when he flicked the ball."

Manly's clash with the Storm next weekend will be a rematch of the 2007 and 2008 grand finals and Toovey is looking forward to the challenge of facing an old foe.

"We'll head down there Friday, and we'll be ready for it," he said.

- AAP

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