‘Shouldn’t have been a penalty’: NRL bosses apologize to Ricky and Robbo after crucial mistakes

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has admitted that referees made two controversial decisions wrong in round 16.

The first came at a crucial point in Friday night’s clash between Panthers and Roosters, with Penrith’s side being awarded a penalty for a tackle by Sam Verills deemed dangerous.

The 39th-minute moment seemed harmless, but referee Gerard Sutton saw it differently after Scott Sorensen’s face hit the ground.

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“In the history of the game, most would agree that this is a leg-up copy book,” Annesley said in his round 16 briefing.

“Sorensen goes over his shoulder, there’s no lift at all, you can see him crouching there, Verrills actually falls to the floor as he makes the tackle.

“We don’t believe there is any reason why this tackle should be penalized.

“This is by no means a justification, if you are in the referee’s opinion you can probably understand on a whim what he sees.

“He sees Sorensen come over the top and then see him head into the grass, obviously not what anyone would want to see, but it’s not the tackler’s fault.

“It’s a copybook tackle gone wrong from the baltacker’s perspective.

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“It was through no fault of the tackler and it shouldn’t have been a penalty.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Raiders were denied the chance to kick a penalty to send their clash with the Dragons to the golden point.

The Canberra side had the ball in front of the goal posts on the fifth tackle, when Ben Hunt and Jack Bird deliberately slowed the ball play.

The Raiders got another six before Hunt stormed off the market to tackle dummy half Tom Starling – a play that Annesley said should have been given a penalty.

But that wasn’t all, with the NRL boss explaining that a penalty could have been awarded pre-flop and an off-side call leading up to the fifth tackle.

“We believe that a penalty should have been awarded in this case for a number of reasons,” said Annesley.


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“You will hear the umpire call out Ben Hunt for three separate incidents…for flopping the tackle before Tapine plays the ball and he gives another six for that.

“A lot of people thought he was reigning six again after Ben Hunt went around making the tackle on the dummy half, he doesn’t, he decides that tackle is legit.

He again gives the six to Ben Hunt who flops on Tapine before getting up to play the ball.

“It’s a relatively close call whether it’s square or not, from the footage we’ve looked at… in our opinion it’s impossible to say it’s perfectly square.

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“We can see here, Hunt is a bit on the side, he has his upper body on the side.

“Remember, the ball must be clear of the ruck, once the ball moves back behind his foot, as he passes his foot, he is clear of the ruck.

“But you can see Hunt was partially to the side so he can tackle the dummy half.”

Vision showed Hunt was not square and explained that a penalty should have been awarded, before highlighting two other cases where referee Peter Gough could have blown his whistle.

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“In most cases we want dummy halves to be able to clear the ball, in most cases it will result in a penalty if you see such a tackle,” said Annesley.

“In our view it should have been a penalty.

“There are three incidents, the offside, the flop and then there is the move to tackle the dummy half.”

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