Cronulla have hit out at the NRL bunker after Ben Barba was denied a sensational try in their 36-4 rout of Newcastle at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The Sharks No.1 appeared to have scored on Sunday when he ran 50m off a neat Paul Gallen inside pass and around two defenders to dot down in the left-hand corner in the 30th minute.
However, Barba had the four-pointer taken off him when video referee Bernard Sutton overturned the on-field decision because of apparent interference from Michael Ennis.
Ennis passed to Gallen after scooting out of dummy half but continued on his run and made contact with the Knights’ Chris Adams.
“My initial reaction is I know the play and I know how quick Barba is and I’m just trying to keep up with him,” Ennis told AAP.
“Just to push in support, that’s what my theory was, but unfortunately it was taken off us.
“I didn’t grab the bloke and pull him back, at least not that I can recall.”
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan slammed the decision: “Sometimes I get the feeling with the bunker they’re trying to find a reason not to award a try – that was a good try.
“Michael Ennis can’t disappear. The marker played at Michael Ennis. Michael Ennis is running at speed when he passes.
“Yes he’s in front of the ball but he can’t disappear. I’ve seen 1000 tries like that, we’ve scored a couple.”
Flanagan accused the referees of not allowing the game to flow.
“I thought the game was spoilt by the 20 penalties,” Flanagan said.
“It was just a stop-start game and really frustrating game for us.”
Social media lit up with criticism of the bunker, while commentators and some of the game’s greats expressed their disbelief.
“That’s horrible. All Mick Ennis has done is pass it and then back up,” Canberra great Gary Belcher said in Fox Sports commentary.
Phil Gould posted on Twitter: “The rugby league world has officially gone crazy.”
The no-try ruling came after Valentine Holmes was denied in the second minute for a double movement, although he appeared to roll over the line with momentum.