Former referees boss Bill Harrigan has called for the entire team of match officials overseeing Cronulla's controversial elimination final win against North Queensland to be stood down for the rest of the NRL finals series.

The Sharks were awarded a try in eighth minute of Saturday's 20-18 victory at Allianz Stadium on what appeared to be the seventh tackle in the set.

On-field referees Matt Cecchin and Henry Perenara miscounted the number of tackles and allowed Sharks prop Sam Tagataese to play the ball after a barnstorming run on what should have been a handover on the last.

Harrigan, who along with Stuart Raper was sacked in 2012 after a controversial season at the helm, said the mistake could have been the result of the two referees switching positions.


"But even when you're working in the pocket, you still should be doing the tackle count and the video ref keeps a tackle count,'' he said during Triple M's Finals NRL coverage.

"If this is a seventh tackle try, the whole three in the team ... you shouldn't see them again for the rest of the finals and that'll be unfortunate.''

The NRL confirmed immediately after the match it was an error, after head of football Todd Greenberg reviewed the incident.

He said there would be an inquiry into how the mistake was allowed to happen.

"We do not want to see mistakes like this made in any match, especially a finals game, and we will be meeting with (referees boss) Daniel Anderson and the match officials to examine just how this happened,'' Greenberg said in a statement.

"What is most concerning is that there are checks and balances across the entire squad to safeguard against the referees making such a mistake. We don't want this happening again.

"We can't take points away or change a result of a match due to such a decision but we do have to be able to reassure players and fans that this won't happen again in any game.''

Anderson later said the referees will have to pay the price for their mistake, but stopped short of saying they will be sacked.


"It's not about public vilification right now, but there will be a price to pay. I think we all know that,'' he told Triple M.

"I can't apologise enough on behalf of the NRL match officials crew.''

Anderson said the referees had counted a couple of the tackles on their fingers, before mistakenly calling the fifth tackle number four.

"At that stage we've got enough fail-safe stuff up here with video ref, touch judges - but the fail-safe's failed unfortunately,'' Anderson said, adding he advised all officials at half-time of the incident.