‘I don’t understand’: Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien disgusted by questionable Bunker calls

The rugby league community was left furious after some questionable Bunker decisions robbed the Newcastle Knights on Thursday.

The rugby league community was left furious after some questionable Bunker decisions thwarted the Newcastle Knights during Thursday night’s showdown with the Brisbane Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Broncos took a convincing 38-12 win at Newcastle, but the final margin could have been considerably narrower had it not been for a few mind-boggling calls from the match officials.

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In the 35th minute, the scores were tied at 6-6 when Knights debutant Anthony Milford delivered a grubber that was collected and grounded by center Dane Gagai.

But video umpire Grant Atkins overturned the decision on the field, ruling that Gagai lost his grip on the ball before pushing it to the tryline.

There was undeniable separation between the Queenslander’s right hand and ball, but many experts believed he had regained control of the footy when he planted it.

“That’s ridiculous,” former Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis told Fox League.

“(Gagai) can’t believe it, gosh, that’s a bad decision. I don’t like that one at all.

“We’re doing everything we can these days to find ways to try and keep you away from you. Gosh, it’s frustrating.”

Fox League commentator Warren Smith continued: “Literally the position of his thumb is why he shouldn’t make that attempt. That’s a crazy call.”

Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith told Channel 9: “I actually thought he grounded football.

“I’m suggesting that he loses the ball… but if he keeps the ball on the ground, it comes into contact with his hand.

“I actually thought it was an attempt.”

Former Queensland Representative Darryl Brohman tweeted: “Come on. That rule is bullshit. Change the rule. It’s a disgrace to the NRL. That has been an attempt since 1908.”

But Newcastle’s frustration only grew after halftime, when Brisbane winger Selwyn Cobbo was awarded a try after 69 minutes, despite what appeared to be a clear impediment to halfback Adam Clune.

The Knights were just two points behind when Broncos forward Jordan Riki Clune blocked, allowing Brisbane fullback Te Maire Martin to run behind his teammate and pass the ball, setting up Cobbo’s long-range attempt.

However, Atkins maintained the try as he believed the New Zealander had passed the footy before running after Riki.

“I don’t agree, I don’t agree at all,” Smith exclaimed.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. And that is a hindrance. As we know it, and we’ve come to know it over the past few seasons, that’s a hindrance every day of the week.”

New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler said in Channel 9’s coverage: “That’s a bad decision. A bad call.”

Bulldogs footy boss Phil Gould continued, “That just goes against everything they’ve done with the bunker over the past ten years.”

Phil Rothfield of the Daily Telegraph tweeted: “This is a complete farce. That was a no-try. Gagai denied an honest attempt. Knights robbed. Get rid of the bunker.”

Brendan Bradford of CODE Sports wrote: “Rugby league rules are more confusing than rugby union rules at the moment.”

An excited Knights coach Adam O’Brien made his disgust evident from the coaching box, gesturing repeatedly to the field as the Bunker’s decision was pronounced.

But at the post-game press conference with reporters, O’Brien declined to blame the Bunker for the 26-point loss.

“That backlog at the end there is unforgivable for us,” he said.

“I get that it took a bit of wind out of the sails, but I think if it happens on the 10m line or on the tryline, in my opinion the rule should be the same everywhere…I don’t get it, I don’t understand .”

The Broncos now have five consecutive wins, the first time they have had this feat since 2017.

“It was a good, tough win,” Broncos skipper Kurt Capewell told Channel 9 after the win.

“Obviously it wasn’t how we wanted to play in the first half, but we handled it at half time. It was good to see the guys showing some resilience and fighting back.”

Kevin Walters’ men, who temporarily climb to fourth on the NRL ladder, will face the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, May 27.

Read related topics:Brisbane

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