Manly coach Trent Barrett has lashed out at a call made by an NRL touch judge that resulted in Parramatta nailing a 78th minute penalty to steal a 10-9 win on Friday night.
Down 9-8 late in the match, the Eels turned the ball over as they searched for a game-winner but were given a late reprieve when Martin Taupau was penalised for an off-the-ball tackle.
Michael Gordon coolly slotted the penalty to give his side a rugged 10-9 win and drive a potentially fatal dagger in Manly’s final aspirations.
Referee Matt Cecchin had initially ruled a knock-on against the Eels however overturned his decision on the advice of his sideline official.
“The touchie said late contact or shoulder charge, one of them. It was pretty disappointing for the call to get overturned and cost us the game,” Trbojevic said after the match.
Barrett, whose side spurned an opportunity to draw level with the 8th-placed Warriors on 22 points to now remain in 11th, was particulately irate after the match.
“You see a thousand of them every week. It wasn’t high, it wasn’t a shoulder charge,” he said.
“The two referees saw it okay. To get a call from a touch judge that’ll decide a game and possibly our hopes of making the semis, is hard to take.
“You’d hate to see a grand final decided like that.”
Daly Cherry-Evans’ field goal on the halftime buzzer appeared to be the difference when Taupau was pinged for an off-the-ball tackle on Bevan French, allowing Gordon to ice a win.
On the same day coach Brad Arthur was handed a contract extension until the end of 2019, the Eels clawed their way to their 11th win of the season and avoided a three-game losing run.
Manly led 7-6 at the break however there were no tries scored in the second half, with Gordon and Dylan Walker both trading penalty goals before Gordon’s match-winner close to fulltime.
The win, played in front of just 8143 fans at Pirtek Stadium, was soured by an ankle injury to stand-in captain Beau Scott in the second half.
The crowd was the lowest at Parramatta in over six years.
Sparks between the long time rivals flew from kickoff, when 100-game celebrant Brad Takairangi forced a turnover on the first play with a jolting shot on Taupau.
Scott and Darcy Lussick also exchanged off-the-ball pleasantries that resulted in an early scuffle, drawing the ire of the referees.
But while the big men dominated the early proceedings, it was the smallest player on the field in rookie French that broke the game open with an individual effort in the 6th minute.
Taking a Takairangi offload flat-footed, French showed off his blistering speed by grubbering ahead for himself around Cherry-Evans, before taking a crucial intercept minutes later.
He also came close to pinching a second try in the 21st minute.
Despite the Eels’ dominance, Sea Eagles rake Api Koroisau levelled scores when he burrowed over in the 37th minute, before Cherry-Evans nailed a one-pointer on the halftime siren.
A proud Arthur praised his men for turning in yet another gritty performance.
“All our wins have been very gutsy. We haven’t played outstanding football but it’s been built off plenty of resilience and a good mindset with the defence and being aggressive,” he said.
“We talked tonight about just trying to find a way to win. Doesn’t matter how you win, we said we can come in after 80 minutes one point in front and that’s how it worked out for us.”
Sea Eagles forward Josh Starling was put on report in the second half for a high shot on Tepai Moeroa that ended his night.