Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is trying to move on after being left bewildered by two unfavourable video refereeing decisions in a frustrating NRL loss to North Queensland.
The 30-10 loss at Pepper Stadium on Monday night consigned the Panthers to three straight defeats – all since losing star playmaker Jamie Soward to a back injury – for the first time in two years.
But it could have been a whole different story had video referees Ashley Klein and Henry Perenara not overruled Matt Cecchin three times in the Cowboys’ favour.
Cecchin was happy enough to award tries to Penrith fullback Matt Moylan and winger Josh Mansour either side of halftime.
But, on referral, Klein and Perenara denied both despite taking what seemed an eternity looking at replays trying to find conclusive evidence required to overturn the referee’s initial decision.
Moylan was deemed to have been held up, with Mansour ruled to have bobbled the ball while trying to ground it in a key decision that denied the Panthers the chance to set up a grandstand finish.
Making matters worse was the fact the video referees earlier overturned Cecchin’s decision not to immediately award Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote a first-half four-pointer.
The series of decisions against the home side had livid Panthers fans chanting “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit … “
Eager to avoid a repeat of the ugly post-match scenes that marred the Good Friday showdown at ANZ Stadium between South Sydney and Canterbury, officials ensured Cecchin was flanked by several security guards on his way to the sheds after the match.
Cleary admitted he had issues with the three overrules but, wary of drawing a breach notice for speaking about match officials, he tried to bite his lip and said he didn’t see the point in sounding out referees boss Tony Archer on Tuesday.
Cleary, though, couldn’t help but publicly voice what most others were thinking.
“If there are an enormous amount of replays being done, there must be some doubt,” he said.
“I would have thought if you gain sufficient evidence (to overrule the decision) watching it from the video, it will happen in the first few shots, or a particular shot.
“If you’re looking at the same shots, I would suggest you’re not quite sure.”
Cleary didn’t believe the Panthers were a 20-point worse side than the Cowboys, but admitted many of their problems were their own doing.
“A lot of our young guys are going through a patch at the moment finding out it’s not all beer and skittles,” he said.
“We’ve just got to fight through this little patch and all of a sudden things can change for us.”