Brad Arthur aggrieved by refereeing blunder as Tom Trbojevic mistake proves costly

Brad Arthur has every right to feel hard done by after a refereeing miss proved costly.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur was left furious after a crucial refereeing miss proved costly in the Eels' 32-18 loss to Manly. The official's error led to Will Penisini being sent to the sin bin for a professional foul on Manly’s Tom Trbojevic as the game hung in the balance.

Midway through the second half, Manly five-eighth Luke Brooks put a kick in over the top of Parramatta’s line and into open space for the speedy fullback to chase down. Just as it looked like the Sea Eagles speedster would pick up the ball and score, he was brought down without the ball in a desperate attempt by the Eels centre.

Pictured Brad Arthur left and Tom Trbojevic offside right
Brad Arthur has every right to feel hard done by after the referee missed Tom Trbojevic being offside in the play that saw Eels centre Will Penisini sin binned. Image: Getty/

Penisini was subsequently sent to the sin bin for the foul as Reuben Garrick converted a penalty goal to extend Manly’s lead to six in the 57th minute. However, replays clearly showed Trbojevic was in front of Brooks when he kicked the ball, meaning the Manly man was off-side and he should have been penalised.

If the correct call had been made, the result could have been vastly different, as the penalty would have seen the Eels have a full set to attack Manly's line. They also would have had the full complement of personnel. After the match, Arthur pointed to the error as a "big moment” that changed the course of the contest.

"I think there was some tough calls,” Arthur said. “Will Penisini got ten minutes in the sin bin. I thought maybe the chaser was off-side. That’s a big moment in the game."

The Eels managed to keep Manly at bay when they went down to 12 men after Penisini’s sin bin, even getting on the scoreboard through Maika Sivo in the 66th minute to reduce the deficit to just two points. But then the winger's brain snap with 11 minutes to go ruled out a chance of a comeback.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 26:  Will Penisini of the Eels is tackled during the round eight NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels at 4 Pines Park on April 26, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Will Penisini was sin binned for a professional foul on Tom Trbojevic but replays showed he shouldn't have been.

After completing a tackle on Garrick, Sivo inexcusably decided to drop an elbow into his head. It was so obvious that there were audible moans from Parramatta players as Gerard Sutton blew his whistle and upon seeing the replay, put Sivo on report and sent him to the sin bin. At the time there were 11 minutes to go and the Eels were down 20-18 but following his sin bin, Manly attacked the side where he would have been defending if not for his costly mistake and scored two easy tries to seal the win. And his brain snap infuriated Arthur.

"It's dumb, isn't it?" Arthur said after the game. "It's 20-18 We're in front four tries to three. 11 minutes to go. Tackle four they put a kick up and hopefully, we get the ball back."


While Eels captain Clint Gutherson also was unable hide his frustration. "It was just stupid," he said.

"We were in the game. It's 10 minutes left, we just got Will back on. Last tackle, catch the ball. We give ourselves a chance. Silly things at the moment are really hurting us. Just missed tackles, penalties against us. Can't do that in NRL games, it doesn't matter who you're playing."