Parramatta have slammed the referees for Corey Norman’s sin-binning in the wake of their 32-16 NRL defeat on Saturday night to North Queensland.
When Norman was marched for 10 minutes for a professional foul on Michael Morgan, it proved the turning point, with the Cowboys laying on three late tries to seal victory in front of 13,908 fans at 1300SMILES Stadium.
With Morgan flying through chasing a kick on the Eels’ line, Norman grabbed his opposite No.6’s shoulder and pulled him off the ball in the 66th minute.
With the Eels leading 16-14, the video referees ruled there was not enough certainty to award a penalty try but Norman was given 10.
Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston kicked a penalty to even the scores and, three minutes later, took advantage of the Eels’ 12-man defensive line to send Antonio Winterstein over.
A Morgan late double ensured the Cowboys maintained their perfect record at home in 2016 and second spot on the ladder.
Eels coach Brad Arthur questioned the decision, saying the fans had been robbed of an even contest, and would be seeking a please-explain from referees boss Tony Archer.
“It’s disappointing that with 14 minutes to go that we couldn’t see two really good teams fight it out, to see who could get on top at the end,” Arthur said.
“I think everyone’s been robbed of a good game of football.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green also queried the decision, however he said the refs didn’t go far enough and Morgan should have been awarded a penalty try.
“If it was a professional foul to stop him scoring, then why wasn’t it awarded a try? But I’m sure they’ve got their reasons so I’ll clarify that through the week,” Green said.
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote starred, scoring one try and saving another two in a man-of-the-match performance which announced him as a contender for the NSW State of Origin fullback spot.
The off-contract Cowboys custodian was a standout in the opening stanza as the home side jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the break.
After combining nicely with Morgan to score in the 23rd minute and pulling off two huge plays to deny Eels four-pointers, including a gutsy tackle on prop Danny Wicks, calls grew louder for Coote to be named the NSW No.1 ahead of James Tedesco and Josh Dugan.
The Eels stormed back into the contest after halftime when Semi Radradra grabbed a double in the space of nine minutes before a Michael Jennings length-of-the field effort evened the scores.
However, the game turned with Norman’s sin-binning as the scoreline blew out and failed to reflect the Eels’ valiant effort.
The Eels went to Townsville in fourth place and determined to get points on the board with their penalty for alleged salary cap breaches set to be announced within the week.