Warriors coach Stephen Kearney believes there is a serious issue with officiating in the NRL – and a solution needs to be urgently found.
While insisting he was not blaming the referees for the Warriors 12-6 loss to the Storm – he repeatedly stressed that Melbourne were the better team, and his side weren't quite good enough – Kearney was left stunned by some strange decisions on Sunday.
Several big calls went against the home side, with a few quite inexplicable and clearly wrong.
In the wake of Ricky Stuart's outburst on Friday night, after the Raiders' controversial loss to the Sharks, Kearney agreed that the men with the whistle weren't currently up to the mark.
"I think there is a problem [with the refereeing]," said Kearney. "Unfortunately they have been poorly led. They get a directive [from the NRL] at the start of the year to blow the pea out of the whistle and 13 rounds in that changes again."
"It's just about that consistency and I feel for them at the moment. There is enough smart people in our game to get it sorted, and we need to make sure we do something about it. It's a bit of a blight on our game at the minute."
The most obvious example occurred midway through the second half on Sunday, when Warriors winger Ken Maumalo smashed through three tackles in a 40m burst towards halfway, before being stopped by Cameron Smith. Smith's tackle looked high, but as Maumalo went to play the ball the referees found an invisible knock on.
"Ken's one was a pretty obvious one," said Kearney. "They are moments for them, and as Ricky alluded to the other day, they are game changers. They turn the momentum of the game."
The officials earned the ire of the crowd with their inconsistent policing of the ten metre rule, as the Australian side spent almost the entire match parked in the Warriors backline.
"We get penalised for leaving our line too early, a couple of minutes before the end of the game," said Kearney. "[Then] we head up and are on their try line and by the time we catch the ball they are in our face."
Kearney was also frustrated by the Storm's ability to seemingly enjoy carte blanche in the ruck, as they constantly slowed the play, often without punishment.
"They are under a bit of pressure at the moment the officials," said Kearney.
"We got an email at the start of the week [from the NRL] and they said they were going to look at the crowding of the play the ball and that it is taking too long for guys to get off tackles. I look at tonight and I'm thinking...I don't know if they sent themselves that email. They probably needed to read the email themselves. [Melbourne] were slow peeling off and that's what we get confused about as footy clubs."