Hunt should have been banned for exploiting loophole as Annesley admits reference error on crucial call




Canberra manager Ricky Stuart has every right to tell the NRL where to stick his apology after his side were robbed at Wollongong on Sunday in the final minute.

Fair play for St George Illawarra skipper Ben Hunt – he was smart enough to roll the dice to exploit the six-fold loophole which means teams are only penalized in extreme circumstances when they slow play while defending their goal line.

NRL chief of football Graham Annesley admitted on Monday that a penalty should have been awarded after the referee called out Hunt three times in the final set.

With the Raiders on the attack with 10 seconds left, Hunt escaped any meaningful punishment as Canberra’s final 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.

Dragons players celebrate their victory against the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

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 honest with Gough, this one was a marginal decision – the type you see penalized most of the time and also let go to a large extent. Annesley said that in his opinion it should also have been a penalty as Hunt stood “partially to the side”, but added that it was a close call anyway.

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.

Annesley said the Raiders could also have received an offside penalty from the Dragons earlier in the final set.

Storm star Brandon Smith, on The Matty Johns Show, gave a gambler’s perspective as he watched Hunt’s flop vision later that night: “That’s where the six-new isn’t really a big deal to you as a team but I think if you just kick the ball I don’t think it’s legal but if you fake kick the ball I think they get a two-point conversion.

Her former skipper Cameron Smith added his voice to the chorus against reboot renditions of the set on SEN Radio on Monday morning saying the rule of six again is very subjective and he would be happy to get rid of it, adding clear indiscretions in the ruck should warrant a penalty.

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.

Hunt should have been banned for exploiting loophole as Annesley admits reference error on crucial call

Xavier Savage. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

“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.




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