Warriors' coach Stephen Kearney says he has "given up" trying to make sense of some of the NRL officiating at the moment, after a series of curious decisions almost overshadowed their 24-20 win over the Knights on Saturday.

The Warriors deserved their victory against a seriously understrength Newcastle side, though they did it the hard way.

The visitors came back from a 12-2 halftime deficit to claim the lead, but then fell behind again late and needed a 75th minute Sam Lisone try to take the win.

But the match will be remembered for number of calls that the officials, both on the field and in the bunker, will wish they had a chance to make again.


The most glaring denied Ken Maumalo his third try in the 65th minute, which would have given the Warriors an eight point buffer. It was close, but the end on replay clearly showed the winger had regained control of the ball as he dived for the corner, but the bunker officials found their own version.

"There is no point blaming and pointing the finger…was it a try…was it not a try?," said Kearney. "We all saw it, I'm just happy that it didn't come down to that to decide the game."

"Like everyone, I have given up trying to give my view on it. At the end of the day they are pushing the button. Over the course of the last couple of weeks there have been a few howlers. What is saying what I think about it going to change?"

The Knights' first try also came courtesy of a generous interpretation by the whistlers, as a clear Mason Lino knock on was instead judged a strip, and the Knights scored off the next play.

And Newcastle's third try, which gave them a 20-18 lead with 11 minutes to play, was scored with a concussed Peta Hiku prone on the ground in back play. The Warriors' centre, who had an outstanding game, had been knocked out two plays earlier, but his plight was seemingly overlooked by the match officials.

"You ring up and try to find an answer and you end up going round the block, you don't get anywhere so that is the most frustrating part about it all," said Kearney, of his dealings with the NRL over some controversial calls this season."

Kearney's overriding emotion post match was relief, as the match was in the balance until the final play, with Newcastle receiving a penalty after the hooter, following a frenetic final few minutes.

"We have had a few games like that this year, could have gone either way and it was nice to come out of the end of it to be honest. "

The Knights were missing six first choice players, including stars like Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer (State of Origin) and Kalyn Ponga (injury) but their scratch team showed plenty of spirit.

"We knew it was going to be a dog fight," said Kearney. "We were geared up for a really committed performance from the Knights and that is exactly what happened."

The Warriors also suffered their share of adversity; Karl Lawton was injured in the opening quarter, Bunty Afoa didn't return after halftime, Jazz Tevaga played on with an ankle problem and Hiku was forced off in the last 10 minutes.

The visitors endured a messy first half, unable to make the most of a ton of opportunities in Knights territory, while the home side scored two opportunist tries.

"We had the upper hand but didn't have a great deal of luck," said Kearney. "Our shape in good ball wasn't what we were after and the Knights had us covered pretty easily really. My message to the boys at halftime was just to stick at it and things will turn for us."