Controversy mars Sharks’ golden point win

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admits he’s confused about the controversial ruling that led to his side’s dramatic 21-20 golden point victory over Canberra.

But, with the NRL finals looming, he’ll still happily take the two competition points.

The Sharks racked up their fifth win in six matches at GIO Stadium on Saturday after Valentine Holmes kicked the match-winning field goal in extra-time.

It was somewhat of a relief for the visitors, who were unlucky not to seal the game in regular time.

With 45 seconds left on the clock, video referees Shayne Hayne and Daniel Irvine overturned what would have been a victory-grabbing Andrew Fifita try.

However, they believed the burly prop had been held back by a Raider and so awarded a penalty in front of goal – which Michael Gordon duty converted to level the scores 20-20.

“Strange, isn’t?” Flanagan said of the decision.

“I thought it was a try, definitely. I don’t know how they came up with it.

“Both on-field referees ruled it a try, and the way I read it is they’ve got to have conclusive evidence that it’s not a try.

“From my position … I couldn’t see any conclusive evidence to change that decision.”

Flanagan admitted that if Cronulla hadn’t won, he would’ve “struggled” to speak honestly post-match.

“But I haven’t got the money to spend and I’ll do it through the correct processes,” he said.

“We had to win it three times, to tell you the truth.

“The way the players held themselves together after some interesting calls, especially the last one there, they could’ve dropped their bundle – but they just hung in there and had that belief.

“I’m really proud of them.”

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was less forthcoming when asked his thoughts on the decision, replying only: “It doesn’t matter what I think.”

The Raiders had a controversial call go their way moments earlier, when awarded a penalty for a strip directly in front of the posts.

Skipper Jarrod Croker converted to give his side what appeared to be a decisive 20-18 lead, only for Gordon’s debatable penalty to level the scores again.

Stuart took a gamble with a last-minute line-up reshuffle, replacing injured halfback Sam Williams with fullback Jack Wighton.

Sisa Waqa took his place as the Raiders’ custodian, while Joseph Leilua started his first home match in the nation’s capital at centre.

Canberra had been favourites to win but have now dropped three of their past four.

“The boys are heartbroken but we’re just going to have to keep our heads up,” Croker said.

“We’re not done with yet. We’ll keep our heads up and move forward.”

To add to the Raiders’ woes, prop Shannon Boyd was put on report for a suspected crusher tackle on Sharks second-rower Luke Lewis.

Cronulla next play Canterbury, while the Raiders face Penrith.

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