The NRL bunker is under fire again after several contentious decisions overshadowed the Brisbane Broncos’ 44-28 elimination final victory over the Gold Coast.
The Titans were leading 6-0 in the 10th minute when a 35m bust by James Roberts was curtailed by a desperate try-saving tackle from Jarryd Hayne.
Despite rounding up the fastest player in the NRL, Hayne couldn’t prevent Roberts offloading to Jordan Kahu who scrambled to ground the ball over the try line only for Titans centre Konrad Hurrell to kick the ball out of his possession.
Lead referee Gerard Sutton’s on-field decision was no-try, given that Kahu never grounded the ball.
However bunker officials deemed that Hurrell’s desperate boot was foul play and Brisbane were awarded the try with the conversion taken from in front of the posts to lock the score up at 6-6.
Discussing the decision at half-time, referee’s boss Tony Archer explained that the bunker made the correct call.
“For a penalty try to be awarded, in the opinion of the referee or the senior review official, the player must be going to score the try from an unfair play,” Archer told the Nine Network.
“The unfair play was when Hurrell kicked the ball out of Kahu’s hand and from our point of view it’s certainly a penalty try.”
Although the Broncos eventually won by more than a converted try, the bunker’s decision was labelled “ridiculous” by former player and Nine commentator Brad Fittler, with co-commentators Peter Sterling and Phil Gould also perplexed.
The bunker was called on again in the 20th minute when Kahu and Leivaha Pulu contested a high ball with the on-field decision ruled a try.
The original decision was overturned by the bunker who ruled the ball had last come off Pulu.
Moments later the Broncos crossed in the corner through Kahu, who could’ve had another claim at a penalty try had he not grounded the ball with Gold Coast halfback Ashley Taylor coming from a clear offside position in attempting to stop the Broncos centre.