Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has accused the NRL referees of putting their whistles away and letting Melbourne run roughshod in the wrestle during their qualifying final loss.
The Storm upset the minor premiers at Allianz Stadium on Friday night with a grinding 20-18 win that puts them just a victory away from the grand final.
While the NRL this year promised to speed up the play the ball and change interpretations of the ruck, Robinson suggested Friday’s match represented a regression in the rules.
Still smarting after his side were pitched into a sudden death play-off against either Canterbury or St George Illawarra next week, Robinson said the Storm were allowed to get away with too much by the whistleblowers.
“There were no penalties in that area. The ref just let it go,” Robinson said.
“There was no reffing of that area.
“We knew that’s their style. They’ve been doing it for 10 years.
“The game has moved on a bit this year but not as much tonight as what it has the last few weeks as well at different times.
“There wasn’t any reffing of that area.”
Craig Bellamy’s sides are famous for the wrestling prowess and it was not known how they would adapt to the quicker ruck speed this year.
Following their 30-2 round 23 win over Cronulla, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan complained the Storm were allowed to get away with too much in the wrestle.
Flanagan observed that they would be difficult to beat for the title if they were allowed to hold down in the play the ball.
Robinson said their opposition came with a game plan to control the ruck with wrestling techniques and the referees allowed them to get away with it.
He said a precedent had been set and he expected other teams to follow suit in the other three finals this weekend.
“We know finals change and (the referees) pull out of the game. We know that,” Robinson said.
“They just stopped reffing that area. They were only there for errors.
“That opens the door for a lot of teams this weekend.”