Is it even an NRL final without some kind of referee controversy?
Last year, Canberra rightly felt cruel by the infamous phantom “six-again” call when Ben Cummins appeared to call out the six-again-call gesture just so the call – if it was ever made – could be changed .
That year, the most controversial call had no bearing on the result as Melbourne Storm beat the Penrith Panthers 26:20 – though it sparked almost the biggest big comeback of all time and had a huge impact on the result.
So what did the bunker do wrong? And what did it do right?
Should the storm have received a penalty attempt?
The first incident in the game that required scrutiny was the decision to give the storm a penalty try after just three minutes.
The Storm were tried out from the bunker after it was discovered that Tyrone May had thrown the ball out of Justin Olam’s hands.
What does the NRL ruling say?
The referee (or the reviewing officers) may award a penalty try if, in their opinion, a try would have been scored without the defending team’s unfair play.
So if Bunker Referee Steve Chiddy thought May was guilty of the unfair game, the penalty attempt was warranted.
“Tyrone May used his foot to kick the ball out of Justin Olam’s possession,” said Chiddy.
“In our opinion, an attempt would have been made.”
In previous cases where players threw the ball out of the hand of a player, it was classified as “unfair play”.
On-field referee Gerard Sutton told Panthers captain James Tamou that May should not aim a kick at the ball.
As a result, the Storm received their first grand final penalty attempt since 2013.
Should Josh Mansour’s improper attempt have passed?
Shortly after that initial decision, Josh Mansour looked like he’d hit back for the Panthers immediately.
Mansour leapt dramatically into the corner in the 8th minute of competition after the Panthers got the ball to the left sideline.
However, Sutton immediately asked the bunker to look for an obstacle through Stephen Crichton.
What does the NRL rule book say about disability?
There are gray areas here, but these are the five reasons listed in the interpretations of the NRL rules for 2020.
(a) “Block” or “Flat” runners[s] (who do not receive the ball) must not stop in the middle of the line of defense
(b) Block or flat runner[s] (those who do not receive the ball) may not run against (chest or outer shoulder of) the defender[s] and get in touch
(c) The referee or the reviewing officers may determine the meaning of the contact initiated by the runner “block” or “flat”[s] (who does not receive the ball) prevent a defender from participating in an attempt to score a goal.
- 2.Ball carriers are not allowed to run behind an active “block” or “flat” runner[s] and penalize the line of defense
- 3.It is considered an obstacle if the attacking players making a “sweep” line clearly receive the ball on the inside of the “block” or “flat” runner[s]
- 4.Defense decisions that oblige the defense attorney[s] Making contact with one or more attacking players is not considered an obstacle
- 5.Defense decisions that oblige the defense attorney[s] Changing your line of defense is not considered an obstacle.
In this case, Crichton ran into the line and hit Storm Center Brenko Lee on the outside shoulder.
The umpires said Crichton denied Lee an opportunity to close down Viliame Kikau, who passed on to Mansour, who scored a goal.
In the bunker, Chiddy said he was “glad the ball was caught outside the leader” and met one of the criteria for playing.
However, he then said the attempt should not be forgiven and said, “Stephen Crichton walked past Brenko Lee’s outer shoulder and impaired his ability to defend the game.”
So Chiddy decided that Crichton contacted the defender (Lee) and prevented him from launching an attack to stop the attempt.
Were there any obstacles on the Panthers’ first attempt?
At the beginning of the second half with 26-0, the Panthers appeared to be eliminated from the competition.
In the 52nd minute, however, Penrith was given a welcome shot in the arm.
Brian To’o scored in the corner after Isaah Yeo kicked the Melbourne defense.
Cameron Munster immediately reached out and appealed to the obstacle, an appeal that seemed reasonable given the repetitions.
Referee Sutton said “no try” and asked the bunker to check if the inside runner had put the defense at a disadvantage.
In Fox Sports coverage, Braith Anasta described the move as “an old-fashioned shepherd.”
“Even though no player is taken out, you can’t do it,” said Ansata. “He’s running after his own player.”
In the bunker, however, Chiddy shocked the experts with the words: “Isaah Yeo kicks the ball, not clearly on the outside, I’m sorry, inside the defender and has not put the defender at a disadvantage.”
Andrew Johns was devastating when reporting on Channel 9.
Phil Gould agreed, “You got the rules wrong. The bunker is wrong. Yeo clearly chased Capewell. “
What does the rule actually say?
Ball carriers may not run behind an active “block” or “flat” runner[s] and penalize the line of defense.
Although the experts rightly said that Yeo, the ball carrier, was running behind Capewell, the block runner, Chiddy believed the line of defense was not being penalized.
He might have felt that Yeo had gotten rid of the ball in front of the defender, Kenneath Bromwich could have reached it.
However, the experts were not impressed.
At Fox, Anasta was also of the opinion that the attempt should not have been forgiven.
“It’s a great finish, but Isaah Yeo goes behind Capewell, which affects Olam and Addo-Carr’s external decisions to get past the footy.
“I am at a loss about this decision.”
This gift from the bunker helped the Panthers make an extraordinary comeback.
It was a dramatic finale for a tense grand finale, but after deliberation, officials might be grateful that the Panthers were close.
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