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Canberra manager Ricky Stuart has every right to tell the NRL where to stick his apology, even if he gets one after his side were robbed at Wollongong on Sunday.
Fair play for St George Illawarra skipper Ben Hunt – he hasn’t just exploited the six-man loophole which means teams are rarely penalized for slowing play while defending their goal line.
With the Raiders on the attack with 10 seconds left, Hunt could have been penalized twice but escaped any meaningful punishment as Canberra’s last raid was disallowed.
After Jack Bird grounded Joseph Tapine 10 yards from the line, Hunt jumped on the Raiders’ prop on the ground in what was the personification of professional foul play.
It was as deliberate as possible. Canberra were on the attack and Hunt’s actions should be a penalty at any stage of the game, on any plot on the pitch.
However, referee Peter Gough’s call after Hunt collapsed on Tapine to block the Green Machine for another precious few seconds was to sign Canberra six again.
With 10 seconds remaining, there is precisely no advantage to the attacking team in getting another set.
Hunt, feeling lucky after dodging a bullet, then jumped off the marker to stop model half Tom Starling before he could pass the ball wide for one final play.
To be fair to Gough, that one was a fringe call – the type you see penalized most of the time and also loose to a large degree.
Referees swallowed the whistle when a big call had been needed in the later stages for over a century.
But that does not excuse the previous game when Hunt should have been penalized and sentenced for a professional foul in front of the posts which would have allowed Canberra to draw level at 12-12 and then have a one-man advantage for the extra charge. period of time.
They may not have won in the golden point mayhem that should have ensued, but they certainly shouldn’t have lost in extra time.
Storm star Brandon Smith, on The Matty Johns Show, gave a player’s perspective as he watched the vision later: “That’s where the six-new isn’t really a great asset to you, as a team, but I think if you just knock out, I don’t think it’s legal, but if you fake hit the ball, I think they get a two-point conversion.
The NRL changed the rule of six again at the start of this season to allow referees to award penalties to teams who are breached in their own 40-yard area.
It helped mitigate what we saw last year when teams deliberately rushed in defense against a team that kicked the ball out their own side, happy to concede a decision six times knowing they were thwarting any momentum. their opponent was trying. to build at the start of their set.
Not that the NRL needs more rule changes, but if the genie of six again isn’t going to be put back in the bottle, perhaps the decision-makers – in their finite wisdom – should consider making one. automatic penalty rather than a restart for infractions. with less than one minute remaining in any period.
A set in the NRL lasts roughly one minute, which would remove the current situation where defending teams can deliberately infringe, knowing that the team in possession receives no real reward from a six-call.
And that would prevent a repeat of Sunday’s scam at WIN Stadium when Hunt’s illegal tactics resulted in a well-deserved penalty for his egregious actions.
Stuart, who has lost a small fortune in fines during his two-decade coaching career, was tight-lipped when asked about the incident at his post-match press conference on Sunday, choosing his words carefully.
“I’ve only seen it once (and) I only need to see it once,” pursed-lipped Stuart said.
“Tomorrow I will get an apology or I will get a justification that there is no penalty. We prepared to win this game with a really tough grind.
His captain Elliott Whitehead was also cautious: “I better not comment because it will come back to me,” he said. “It shouldn’t come down to this (last game), we are a better team than this. We let ourselves down and made too many mistakes.
Gough’s call, or lack thereof, has massive ramifications for Canberra. They would have passed the Dragons to sit just behind Manly in ninth place with a win, but have now fallen to 11th in the table and are four points behind eighth-placed St George Illawarra.