NRL refs boss defends bunker’s no-try call

NRL referees boss Tony Archer has defended the $2 million bunker in the face of criticism over a controversial no-try to Parramatta’s Brad Takairangi.

While its decision to deny the Eels centre early in the second half of Thursday’s 22-10 win over Manly was widely panned, Archer said it was the correct one.

Parramatta skipper Kieran Foran and coach Brad Arthur were left scratching their heads and social media went into meltdown after Takairangi was ruled to be offside after collecting a Corey Norman grubber and planting it on the line.

While the decision ultimately had no bearing on the result, the game was 8-8 at the time and it could have turned the match.

The video referees found insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field ruling of no try, even though replays suggested Takairangi was behind the kicker.

However, Archer said the video referees were right to hit the red button.

“The touch judge was positioned very well to identify live whether the player was offside and he did so,” Archer said.

“The referee’s live decision was based on the touch judge’s view. For the player to be onside, he needs to have both feet behind the ball when it is kicked.

“For the bunker to overturn the live decision, there would need to be sufficient evidence.”

Foran said it was a clear try, adding to the mounting criticism of the bunker.

“I sort of questioned one of the refs about it: ‘I’m sure one of his feet were behind the line’, and he sort of said to me, ‘Both feet have to be behind the line’,” Foran told Sky Sports Radio.

“But watching the replay, I think you can clearly see that both feet were behind Norman.

“It wasn’t as if it was touch and go. I think you could clearly see that he’s onside. So I don’t know how they couldn’t pick it up.”

Archer also said a decision to deny Norman a 28th-minute try was correct after several Manly defenders were impeded beforehand.

The centralised refereeing bunker was warmly received upon its introduction this year, but has come under heavy criticism in the past few weeks.

However, Brisbane master coach Wayne Bennett jumped to the defence of the system, saying it was always going to be the subject of human error.

“There’s no system we can create that’s perfect. The bunker is imperfect. Everything is imperfect. That’s the great part about the game – it’s not a science, it’s an art,” Bennett said.

“The bunker has got many pluses to it but is it the perfect system? No, it’s not because there’s human error there. That’s the bottom line.

“It’s better than what we had so let’s get on with it.”

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