NRL facing fresh controversy as Parramatta left fuming over 'ridiculous' refereeing farce

The Eels were on the wrong end of some questionable decisions against the Newcastle Knights.

The NRL is once again facing questions about the standard of officiating and the rules in general after the Parramatta Eels were on the wrong end of some dubious decisions against Newcastle. Mitchell Moses produced his second stunning display in the space of three days, but it wasn't enough as the Knights scored a 34-26 victory in Newcastle.

However the Eels were left crying foul over a number of decisions that didn't go their way - most notably when Blaize Talagi was ruled to have knocked the ball on when scoring a try. Replays showed Talagi initially grounded the ball short of the line before momentum took it over, and his hand never left contact with the ball.

The Parramatta Eels and Newcastle Knights in action.
The Parramatta Eels appeared to be dudded by a number of calls against the Newcastle Knights. Image: Fox League/Getty

But the Bunker official ruled that Talagi 'rolled' the ball over the try-line, which he said constitutes a knock-on. The decision was a matter of splitting hairs, with one frame showing the ball short of the line before the next frame showed it on the line. Both frames showed that Talagi's hand was still on the ball, and many believed it was a fair try.

“As long as his body stays in I think that’s good,” Greg Alexander said in commentary for Fox Sports. “He just keeps his arm on the ball, never releases an arm, never comes away from it. Oh no! That’s a try there!”

Blaize Talagi in action for Parramatta against Newcastle.
Blaize Talagi's hand never left the ball as it made its way to the try-line. Image: Fox League

Andrew Voss pointed out that Bunker official Wyatt Raymond was very quick to make his decision, rather than taking his time to have a good look at what happened. It seemed like another instance of the Bunker agreeing with the on-field call (which was no try) rather than actually making a decision for themselves.

“We thought that was a try," Eels coach Trent Barrett said after the game. “There’s a few dubious decisions each week but we’re just not getting them at the moment, but we need them. It’s not a great position we’re in at the minute, and we needed that one."

The call proved extremely costly for the Eels, as the score remained 16-16 rather than putting them up 20-16 with 20 minutes to play. The Eels went on to lose by eight, but only because they were throwing caution to the wind in the dying stages because they were trailing.

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It wasn't the only contentious incident to go against the Eels, with Clint Gutherson appearing to be impeded by referee Peter Gough in the lead-up to a Newcastle try. Gutherson collided with Gough as he was running across field to try and shut down an attacking raid, and ended up arriving a fraction too late to prevent Greg Marzhew from scoring.

Gutherson revealed after the game that Gough told him it was simply "unlucky" that they collided, but the Eels could have had a case for the try to be disallowed. In Round 1, the Bulldogs were denied a try because Braydon Trindall collided with referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski while trying to stop Viliame Kikau from scoring. However the NRL later admitted that call was wrong.

Clint Gutherson, pictured here colliding with referee Peter Gough.
Clint Gutherson collided with referee Peter Gough and wasn't able to prevent the try. Image: Fox League

"I was asking what was the go there, I could have got there a step earlier and maybe made the tackle,” Gutherson said in the post-match press conference. “But I was just asking, but that’s the way it went.

"That’s footy... he just said it is one of those things, it’s an accident. I’m trying my best to get to the corner and make a tackle but that’s not what cost us the game, it’s other things at the moment.”

And the Eels weren't alone in their criticism of the referees, with Canberra coach Ricky Stuart also taking a swipe at the officials after their 16-6 loss to Melbourne. The Raiders lost the penalty count 5-4 and gave away six set restarts to the Storm's four.

"We were on the wrong side of the guessing game again,” Stuart said. “They’re just guessing mate. Those six agains, they’re just guessing - ‘I’ll give one away here, I’ll give one away there’.”