Benji Marshall in Tigers warning after 'diabolical' detail as Dragons fume over NRL 'joke'

The Dragons were filthy about a contentious first half incident.

Benji Marshall has threatened to ring the changes to his NRL side after the Wests Tigers set unwanted history in a 56-14 flogging by the Dragons on Friday night. The Dragons were reportedly left seething at halftime after five-eighth Kyle Flanagan was controversially denied a try that helped the Tigers take a 14-12 lead into the break. Fortunately for the Dragons it did not prove decisive as a historic second half capitulation saw Marshall's Tigers thumped 44-0 after the break to go down 56-14.

NSW Origin star Zac Lomax set a new point-scoring record for the Dragons in the NRL with three tries and 10 from 10 goals giving him a personal tally of 32 points. Dragons skipper Ben Hunt also had a massive game backing up from the State of Origin opener just 48 hours earlier, with the halfback scoring one try assisting four others in an impressive display.

Benji Marshall's Wests Tigers set unwanted NRL history and Kyle Flanagan was controversially denied a try for the Dragons on Friday night. Pic: Getty/Nine
Benji Marshall's Wests Tigers set unwanted NRL history and Kyle Flanagan was controversially denied a try for the Dragons on Friday night. Pic: Getty/Nine

For the Tigers though, it was a ninth straight defeat made worse by their worst half of footy in NRL history. The 44 points conceded in the second 40 minutes was the most in a half for the Tigers, and the worst effort of any team in the NRL in more than two years. Marshall labelled it "unacceptable" and suggested it could result in players being axed from his 17-man squad.

"I feel sorry for fans to have to watch that capitulation in the second half," Marshall said. "I actually do. I can imagine how frustrating it is, putting your hard-earned into it. To have 20 per cent of the ball and have as many errors as what we did. Schoolboy errors, to be honest. Unacceptable. I'll say it again. If the actions don't change, then the players have to change. It's unacceptable."

NRL great Michael Ennis described the performance from the Tigers - whose entire side combined for just 220 running metres in the second half - as "diabolical". While fellow league legend Paul Gallen said on Channel Nine's coverage that the Tigers appeared to be "going backwards" after showing signs of promise earlier in the season.

“I think being that young, you need to see players stand up and play well,” Gallen said. “When you look at their senior players, (Justin) Olam had a shocker, Stefano (Utoikamanu) was relatively unsighted, (Api) Koroisau tried his guts out but he’s a hooker so you can’t do much unless you’re forwards to going forward, Alex Twal, relatively unsighted — that is about all the senior players they’ve got. The rest of the blokes are young kids getting their career started. I worry for a few of them. To me, they are going backwards.

The scoreline could have been even uglier for Marshall's men, had it not been for a contentious bunker call that denied Flanagan a first half try for the Dragons. Flanagan squirmed his way through a Jahream Bula tackle when close to the line, before reaching out and planting the ball on the chalk after landing on his back and twisting his body around.


The arm carrying the footy did not make contact with the ground and most viewers thought Flanagan was entitled to reach out and plant the footy. Referee Chris Butler sent it up to the bunker but the video official deemed that Flanagan had been stopped in the tackle short of the line and illegally promoted the footy in a double movement. The call left viewers baffled and the Dragons incensed as the Tigers scored a try of their own moments later in a 12-point turnaround.

Seen here, Dragons playmaker Kyle Flanagan is denied a try in the big win over the Wests Tigers.
Dragons playmaker Kyle Flanagan found himself at the centre of a no try controversy in the big win over the Wests Tigers. Pic: Nine/Getty

NRL greats and Fox League analysts Cooper Cronk, James Graham and Michael Ennis all thought it was a try, as did Dragons coach Flanagan. “I’m glad you asked because that’s a try,” he said about his son's effort in the post-match press conference. “I know it’s Kyle, but that’s a try without any doubt. It’s a 12-point turnaround and at a really important time. I just can’t understand (it).

“The referee asked to see if he just put it on the tryline, they decided he did. He thought in the motion it was all in the tackle. He wasn’t held, he continued to move. It’s just a crazy decision. If we can’t get them right in the scoreline like today when we’re really under the pump — we’ve got to get them right. The referee did a good job today, but the bunker let him down.”

with AAP