Manly coach Trent Barrett has fired up at the controversial decision to penalise Martin Taupau in Friday’s loss to Parramatta that has all but ended a spot in the finals.
The Sea Eagles were leading 9-8 late in the game when referee Matt Cecchin ruled a knock-on by the Eels, however overturned his decision after a sideline official reported an off-the-ball incident with Taupau.
Cecchin awarded a penalty to the Eels, gifting goalkicker Michael Gordon a 78th-minute match-winning shot that snapped Manly’s five-game winning streak and left them mired in 11th spot with four games to go.
“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,” stand-in skipper Jake Trbojevic said.
A livid Barrett was up in arms over the call.
“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.”
The Sea Eagles had everything to play for at Pirtek Stadium against an Eels side attempting to save face over a horror season that included being stripped of 12 points for salary cap cheating.
However Manly failed to continue its form of recent weeks and were held out by a stubborn Eels defence.
“Yeah, we dropped a lot of footy. But you put yourself in a position to win, to have an official decide it like that (is disappointing),” Barrett said.
The loss means the Sea Eagles remain two points behind the Wests Tigers, Penrith and the 8th-placed Warriors, all of whom have yet to play this weekend.
Barrett conceded Manly must now win their remaining four games, against Canterbury (away), Melbourne (home), Canberra (home) and Penrith (away) to have any hope of reaching the finals.
“We gotta have to win next week against the Dogs and then we’ve got two home games. So massive focus on that Dogs game and get a big crowd back at Brookie into Melbourne and Canberra,” Barrett said.