controversial call – Michmutters

Canberra Raiders vs St George Illawarra Dragons finish, Corey Harawira-Naera tackle on Mat Fegai, penalty, video

Dragons fans will tell you the finish to Sunday’s game against the Raiders was a square-up after what happened in Wollongong earlier in the year, but the NRL is adamant the officials got the call right to not award St George Illawarra a penalty from 15m out which would have sent the match to golden point.

The Dragons were down 24-22 when Mathew Feagai broke into the clear, only to be chopped down close to the line as time was about to expire.

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The winger tried to get to his feet, but was held down by Corey Harawira-Naera and the ball then came free just as the referee blew his whistle, leaving the Red V with virtually no chance of making the finals.

Players were incensed that they weren’t given a penalty, and they were left to rue a shocking captain’s challenge at the start of the second half which meant they couldn’t send the play to the Bunker to have it reviewed.

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The Dragons’ Jack Bird was furious with the decision. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

It brought back memories of the farcical finish to the game at WIN Stadium when the Green Machine weren’t given a penalty when down 12-10 because the referee had called full-time.

However, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the decision on Sunday was the correct one and that the Dragons would’ve been doubly disappointed even if they still had a challenge up their sleeve, because time had expired before the second movement by Harawira-Naera which pushed Feagai off his feet.

“The ball is not in play,” he said.

“There’s no possibility for the ball carrier to get up and play the ball in order to get another tackle.

“Regardless of any infringement that might take place by the defender – other than foul play – it’s irrelevant because the ball hasn’t been brought back into play and the referee can’t extend the play for a technical infringement to award a penalty.

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“They could’ve mounted a challenge had they had one left because the game is not finished at this point, even though time has expired and the referee has blown his whistle to indicate that he’s stopping play.

“He hasn’t at this point blown his whistle to say it’s full-time, so although the game could not have continued because of that technical infringement, it would not have prevented the Dragons from asking for a captain’s challenge.

“However, they would have lost the captain’s challenge because time had expired and we couldn’t restart the game for a technical infringement.

“It’s all very, very precise in terms of what can and can’t happen, and it needs to be that way because you can’t have another tackle after time has expired if the ball’s not already in play.”


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The incident was similar to the wild finish in Townsville a few weeks ago in that the Dragons would have technically been challenging the decision to end the game, just as the Cowboys did to snatch victory from the Wests Tigers.

“Not only could we not have restarted play because the tackle had been complete and hadn’t restarted, but we also couldn’t have restarted play because they’d knocked on in the ruck,” Annesley said.

“They would’ve been challenging the referee’s decision to stop the game in order to call full-time, similar to what happened with the Wests Tigers.

“They would’ve effectively been saying, ‘No, you can’t call full-time because we want to challenge what’s just happened.’

“But had they had a challenge and had it taken place, the Bunker would’ve had no choice but to deny the challenge because of not only the lost ball, but also play had not recommenced before time had expired.”

It was one of those weekends in the NRL, with a number of murky decisions.

Annesley said the Bunker made the right call to award a try to Bradman Best because the contact on Adam Reynolds wasn’t enough to prevent the try.

But he did concede the bunker got it horribly wrong at the SCG when Sam Verrills strolled over even though teammate Matt Lodge clearly held Griffin Neame back in the scrum.

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Sam Verrills celebrates a try which shouldn’t have been awarded. Picture; Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“The contact caused Neame to do a 360, and Verrills has gone past,” Annesley said.

“It happens very quickly in real time, but I think there’s enough on this in replay that the Bunker had the opportunity to look at.

“There’s enough of a hold after the ball is out of the scrum to say that that would be a breach of the rules, and in normal circumstances, would result in a penalty to the Cowboys.

“However, in this particular case, it wouldn’t have resulted in a penalty to the Cowboys because of the off-side at the scrum, which was the first offence.”



Wests Tigers vs Cowboys, escort penalty, captain’s challenge, video, outcome, Asu Kepaoa, Kyle Feldt

The NRL has conceded the use of the captain’s challenge “needs to be reviewed,” however no action will be taken regarding the Wests Tigers’ controversial loss to the Cowboys in Round 19.

Meanwhile, the Tigers have confirmed they will not pursue the matter any further.

The Tigers lodged a formal complaint after the Cowboys received an escort penalty in the final seconds of the game, allowing Valentine Holmes to kick the matchwinning goal.

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While there were big question marks raised over the penalty itself, there was also confusion over how the Cowboys were able to trigger a captain’s challenge when it seemed like play was never stopped.

As a result the Tigers demanded answers and began looking at legal options to potentially get the result overturned.

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The NRL acknowledged that the escort penalty was incorrect but stood by the Cowboys’ right to use their captain’s challenge.

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and chairman Lee Hagipantelis met with ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and NRL head of football Graham Annesley last week to discuss the matter.

The NRL released a statement on Monday afternoon to confirm that no action will be taken regarding the result other than a review of the captain’s challenge at the end of the season.


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“The Chairman and CEO of the Wests Tigers met with the Chairman of the ARLC, NRL CEO and NRL Head of Football last week,” an NRL statement read.

“The meeting was agreed to discuss various aspects of the rulings made in the final minutes of the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys match on 24 July 2022, being the subject of a formal complaint lodged by Wests Tigers with the NRL.

“The NRL has acknowledged the concerns raised by the Wests Tigers and in response has put forward its interpretation of the rules which enabled the Captain’s Challenge to be made and the subsequent decision of the Bunker match official.

“The NRL has already acknowledged that the Bunker official decision of “escort” was incorrect, leading to the erroneous awarding of a penalty in favor of North Queensland Cowboys which ultimately decided the match.

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“On the matter of whether the Captain’s Challenge was permissible in terms of how the rules were drafted, the NRL and the Wests Tigers expressed differing views and interpretation.

“The NRL is comfortable with the interpretation that was applied but has acknowledged, in light of the concerns raised by the Wests Tigers, that the rule needs to be reviewed at the end of the season to provide more clarity so as to ensure that there is no future misunderstanding as to the intent and application of the rule. Wests Tigers will be consulted as part of the review, together with other interested Clubs and stakeholders.

“The NRL acknowledges the professional and respectful manner in which the representatives of the Wests Tigers have pursued their concerns on behalf of their Club’s members and fans.

“There will be no further consideration in relation to the match of 24 July 2022.”

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Following the NRL’s decision, the Tigers released a statement to confirm the club will not pursue legal action.

“Wests Tigers have decided not to pursue a course of legal action following the club’s loss to North Queensland Cowboys in Round 19 of the NRL Telstra Premiership,” the statement read.

“The club, through Chair Lee Hagipantelis and CEO Justin Pascoe, has been involved in lengthy discussions with the NRL over the past two weeks, and following the receipt of external legal advice, has decided against pursuing this matter any further.

“The NRL has acknowledged, in light of the concerns raised by the Wests Tigers, that the rules do need to be revised at the end of the season, so as to prevent similar incidents occurring again. Wests Tigers will be consulted as part of that review.

“Wests Tigers have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support the club has received from its members and fans.

“We have made our point to the NRL and made it forcibly. We did so on behalf of our members and fans and gave voice to their legitimate concerns that the outcome of the match was not just nor fair.

“We extracted a concession from the NRL that the obstruction penalty which was given was erroneous and therefore, by implication, Wests Tigers should have won that match.

“We know it, everyone knows it. Unfortunately, the history books will not record it that way.