Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has bitten his tongue and refused to blame the referees for his side’s 19-18 loss to Melbourne despite a series of controversial calls.
The Tigers players were left dejected in the dressing rooms on Sunday after slumping to their fifth straight NRL loss.
Without skipper Aaron Woods and racked by the loss of Sauaso Sue and David Nofoaluma during the week, the Tigers were gutsy in defeat at Leichhardt Oval.
They had reason to remonstrate after being cruelled by controversial tries to Suliasi Vunivalu and Marika Koroibete in a crucial five-minute period in the second half and denied what looked like a penalty try to Chris Lawrence.
The Storm regained the lead when Vunivalu went over in the corner in the 53rd minute but it was questioned why the play wasn’t called back.
In the lead up, Vunivalu collared Tigers fullback James Tedesco, producing a turnover which allowed the Storm to race downfield to score.
After the try had been awarded, Vunivalu was placed on report but it was not explained why a penalty wasn’t awarded in the first place.
Then, in the lead up to Koroibete’s try, Ben Hampton’s last pass appeared forward.
Taylor refused to be drawn on the series of controversial moments, after the NRL last week issued clubs with a reminder that criticism of the referees and video referee bunker would not be tolerated.
Asked if Lawrence should have been awarded a penalty try after being held back by Richie Kennar chasing a Robbie Farah grubber, Taylor said: “I thought it was possible. It was very, very possible.”
On the high shot which forced Tedesco off for a concussion test, Taylor admitted it was upsetting. Pressed on why, he shot back: “You know. He got hit in the head and the player was put on report. Usually you get something for that.”
Quizzed further on whether the play should have been taken back, he said he was being forced to keep his opinions to himself.
“You guys are taking me down a path I’m now allowed to go down,” Taylor said.
And when asked about Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s trip on Mitchell Moses, Taylor could only chuckle and mumble: “I don’t know.”
In the end, Taylor said the series of questionable calls were inconsequential, and it was their inability to convert their chances in extra time – with Moses and Luke Brooks both missing shots at field goal – which ultimately decided the game.
“We talked last week about wanting to be tougher and play a tougher style of footy and we saw that tonight, that’s really encouraging,” Taylor said.
“Over the years Wests Tigers have beaten Melbourne at this ground but usually it’s been with the passes sticking and the scoreboard ticking over.
“We didn’t get the result tonight but the fight was great and that’s what it takes in this competition.”