Referees boss Tony Archer has conceded the NRL’s under-siege bunker has erred again, this time in allowing an illegal “wall” in Penrith’s win over Canberra that ultimately delivered the Panthers victory.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was incensed post-game in Bathurst on Saturday after prop Paul Vaughan was prevented from attempting a charge-down on a Peter Wallace’s match-winning field goal by Panthers Trent Merrin and Sam McKendry loitering beside the play the ball.
Archer admitted on Monday the field goal should have been disallowed and a penalty should have been awarded to the Raiders.
“I have reviewed the footage from late in the Raiders v Panthers match and determined that the position taken up by Merrin and McKendry was a ‘wall’ under the new rule introduced in 2016,” Archer said.
“As a result a penalty should have been awarded to the Raiders.”
The admission will come as little consolation to Stuart.
Wallace’s field goal was the difference between the sides in the Panthers’ 19-18 round-nine win.
“You’re not allowed to have blockers impeding a player from chasing down the kicker of a field goal,” Stuart said in the post-match press conference.
“We were impeded by a wall of players. That’s the rule – you’re not allowed to do that any more. You want me to repeat it again?”
The NRL introduced the rule ahead of the 2016 season after the Warriors employed the tactic in their round-14 match against Sydney Roosters last year. However on that occasion the ‘wall’ did not cost the Tricolours two points.
The official rule states: “If two or more players form a wall (side by side) next to the play-the-ball and don’t allow the opportunity for a defending player in possession, the referee will penalise for obstruction.”
It was a memo, it seems, those manning the bunker didn’t receive.
This latest admission of the bunker’s struggles is sure to increase pressure on Archer and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to sort out the central command centre’s ongoing problems.