The NRL has confirmed the Wests Tigers were dudded by an incorrect Bunker decision in the controversial end to their clash with North Queensland on Sunday.
The Tigers were up 26-25 in Townsville when the full-time siren sounded. A short Cowboys kick-off was collected by Tigers fullback Daine Laurie and the play killed.
But North Queensland demanded a captain’s challenge, claiming Kyle Feldt had been ran off the kick chase illegally.
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The Bunker awarded the penalty and Val Holmes kicked the goal to change the result, with the Cowboys winning 27-26. The Tigers are now threatening legal action.
On Monday, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the referee’s decision to allow a captain’s challenge was correct.
But Annesley added that a penalty should not have been awarded for the escort play against Tigers youngster Asu Kepaoa.
“We’re just not satisfied that there was enough in that incident to warrant the decision of the Bunker to award a penalty kick,” Annesley told media.
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“Yes there was contact, yes there was a collision, but we believe the Wests Tigers player involved was heading towards the ball, he didn’t look over his shoulder to see who was coming behind him.
“These are matters of judgment from the officials, but on review this morning we just don’t believe there was enough in that to award a penalty.”
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Many pundits had also questioned why North Queensland was allowed to ask for a captain’s challenge after the siren had sounded.
The captain’s challenge – which was only introduced in the NRL last year – can be used only when play is stopped by the referee. In this case the referee made no call, other than to signal the end of the game.
“In our view it was allowable in those circumstances, for a number of reasons,” Annesley said.
“You won’t find anywhere in black and white a specific rule that talks about can you make the challenge on the last tackle when time has expired in the game – you won’t find that anywhere.
“He blows the whistle to stop play, but that’s not the end of the game. That first whistle is not a full-time whistle, that is a whistle to stop play. That becomes a stoppage, and the challenge was mounted on the basis of the escort.
“There are no boundaries on that other than it must be a stoppage initiated by the referee, and it has to result in a structured restart – in this case there was a penalty given… which is a structured restart.”
Annesley once again jumped to the defense of the NRL’s video review Bunker, vehemently denying the game would be better off without its interference.
He also defended the captain’s challenge – one of the Peter V’landys offerings that has caused significant controversy since its inception.
“Are we going to let the game be decided on a wrong decision?” Annesley asked.
“We are comfortable that the intent of the rule was carried through, but unfortunately we don’t think the decision made by the Bunker was the correct one.
“There are hundreds of decisions across the course of the year that they make correctly. There are many decisions… that would be impossible to make without the assistance of the Bunker.”
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