North Queensland have taken aim at referee Ben Cummins, labelling him disrespectful following their 16-8 NRL loss to Melbourne.
The premiers were gallant on Saturday night without star co-skipper Johnathan Thurston as the class of Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk shone through in front of 20,256 fans at 1300SMILES Stadium.
The Storm provisionally move to the top of the table with a result which will have big ramifications for the all-important top four.
However that fact was over-shadowed by coach Paul Green’s post-match comments about Cummins, accusing the whistleblowers of giving the visitors the rub of the green.
“There were a number of 50-50 calls that didn’t go our way,” Green said.
“There was a lot of discussion earlier in the year from the Roosters’ coach Trent Robinson about the way the head ref Ben Cummins engages with players.
“I thought there was probably evidence of that again tonight.
“I thought we were entitled to query some of those decisions, particularly when you see the replays.
“I wasn’t out there. I’m standing up for my players here; I think the communication could probably be a bit more respectful between the two groups.”
Robinson was fined $40,000 for his infamous post-match spray against Cummins in April when he accused him of being “horrible and disrespectful” to his side.
Green echoed Robinson’s sentiment, accusing Cummins of dismissing his players and not showing them sufficient respect.
While the Cowboys were brave, the absence of Thurston was palpable as they lacked polish, especially in the Storm’s 20m zone, and their fifth-tackle options left a lot to be desired.
It was the Cowboys’ first home loss of the season and, while Green won’t be reaching for the panic button, they could drop to fourth on Sunday if Canberra beat South Sydney.
“They were missing their halfback tonight who’s a once-in-a-lifetime halfback,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
“They certainly missed him but all we could do we did pretty well.
“We could have liked to have scored a few more points in the second half but didn’t quite have the cohesion in the second half down that end that we did in the first half.
“But our defence made up for it.”
Storm, Queensland and Australian playmaker Cronk proved the difference as he set up two of his side’s three tries.
The bunker was called to adjudicate on all three of the Storm’s tries, and Green suggested during a halftime television interview there wasn’t enough evidence to confirm any of them.
After an Ethan Lowe penalty goal opened the scoring, Cronk put Kevin Proctor through a hole to make it 4-2 after nine minutes.
Marika Koroibete tiptoed down the touchline before making a flying put-down three minutes later and, suddenly, things were looking ominous for the home team.
But then Antonio Winterstein scored in the corner on the back of a superb Lachlan Coote flick pass to reduce the deficit to two.
Storm prop Tim Glasby had been on the field barely a minute when he chased down a Cronk grubber and grounded it with his first touch.
The Storm sealed an important win despite a scoreless second half.