NRL admit the bunker got it wrong with obstruction call that disallowed Joseph Manu try

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NRL head of football Graham Annesley has admitted the Bunker made the wrong decision and Joey Many’s crucial try against the Panthers should have been awarded.

The obstruction rule is meant to be black and white, but at the moment it’s 50 shades of grey and has left fans, players and coaches utterly confused after the Roosters were denied the clear four-pointer in their 22-16 loss to the Panthers.

The defending premiers were comfortably the better side and would have won by a lot more had the Roosters not struck late with a couple of tries to make the score look a lot more respectable.

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But in the end the margin was only six points, with the Roosters denied a try to Manu which could have changed the complexion of the match.

The former Golden Boot winner danced through the defence and spectacularly put the ball down, only for Bunker official Chris Butler to spot what he thought was an obstruction 20 metres away from the play.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had run through the line and stopped, but Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards was no chance of getting to him.

“He is required to stop prior to interfering with any defenders, at this point he stops Dylan Edwards from being able to slide and assist in defending this play, which is an obstruction,” Butler said.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Annesley has admitted that Butler didn’t use “discretion” when making his decision.

He also outlined the difference between Manu’s disallowed try and the obstruction by Jake Trbojevic a week earlier that denied Manly another important try against the Eels.

“Last week I supported two obstruction rulings by the Bunker,’’ Annesley said to News Corp.

“I talked about the need for the lead runner to continue through the defensive line, and for the play not to be turned back through the gap created by a collision with a defender.

“Neither of these factors were present in last night’s decision (for the Manu no-try).

“In the circumstances, the Bunker does have discretion to consider whether a defender could have prevented the try.

“In my opinion, the try would have been scored regardless and the on-field decision should not have been overturned”.

What made the decision worse was that Sunia Turuva was awarded a try for the Panthers even though Liam Martin ran through as the lead runner and interfered with Sitili Tupouniua and Luke Keary as they came across in cover defence.

However, Annesley was reportedly comfortable with that decision.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson was clearly frustrated when asked about Manu’s disallowed try in his post-match press conference.

“Sitili got knocked over in our one, and was he going to save the try? No, he wasn’t. I don’t think he (Edwards) would have got there either on Joey Manu,” Robinson said.

“I feel like there were two different rulings in that case.

“I don’t want to blow it out of proportion too much, but sometimes they’re black and white with their decision, and then sometimes they’ve got the decision-making component and it varies on when they apply it. That’s probably what happened.

“They were black and white with the obstruction because Edwards changes his line as well, and so they were black and white with the call. But on the one where there was an obstruction, they leave it to interpretation.

“I don’t think we get it that wrong, to be honest. There are highlights because we scrutinise them well. It didn’t fall in our favour tonight, and it might at some point.”

The contentious ruling comes just days after Annesley clarified why Manly’s Jake Trbojevic was penalised for obstruction when he stopped in the line.

That decision split opinions and sparked debate surrounding the obstruction ruling.

“You look up and a player gets taken out 20 metres away from the ball,” a “surprised” James Tedesco said.

“If I’m in that position as a fullback, it’s pretty hard to get there and I’m not sure I’d make a difference.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has done his best to avoid talking about controversial calls, but he let slip that he has major issues with the obstruction interpretation.

“I’m kind of trying to avoid talking about bunkers and stuff this year. I’m going to keep that going tonight,” he said.

“If you got me at the right time on the right night then I could talk for half an hour, but I’m not going to tonight.

“It is what it is. You win some, you lose some.

“I’ll say one thing – I feel like every time we’ve done a black and white interpretation in rugby league, it’s been a failure.

“I’m not saying that was the case tonight – I’m not saying yes or no – but every time we have, it doesn’t work. That’s just my opinion.”

The call overshadowed a terrific Penrith performance without Nathan Cleary, James Fisher-Harris and Scott Sorensen, with the premiers unlucky to have not won by more given Tupouniua was awarded a dubious try, while Izack Tago could have been given the benefit of the doubt with a potential try of his own.

“I thought that Tago one could have been a try,” skipper Isaah Yeo said.

“I thought they could have looked at the Tupouniua one a little bit more as well, so it goes both ways.

“Over the course of the season it probably evens itself out.”

The decision caught the ire of Fox League commentators Andrew Voss and Michael Ennis who were left stunned the try was disallowed.

“Hang on a second we are going for the obstruction in field, that was miles away… do they want him to run to Randwick?” Voss asked.

“How far has he got to run? Come on. He’s run through the line… surely Edwards dodges him there, come on. That’s one out.

“That can’t be what we’ve written the rule for surely, what a contrast that is to the Jake Trbojevic one last week. He’s just run 15 metres through the line.”

“We just continue to look to take tries away,” Ennis added.

The rugby league world were left equally stunned after the Roosters were stripped of the four-pointer, with the call being labelled “ridiculous”.

Originally published as NRL’s shock admission after Bunker’s inconsistency robs Roosters

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