Wests Tigers actually received the rub of the green when Korbin Sims toed through a second football on the field at Hunter Stadium during Newcastle’s round six win on Sunday.
Sims kicked through the spare Steeden as he chased down a Trent Hodkinson kick spilt by Tigers winger Jordan Rankin.
The Tigers claimed Rankin had been distracted by the extra ball but referee Gavin Badger ruled a goal line drop out.
Referees boss Tony Archer said on Monday he agreed with the decision.
Even so, he pointed to an obscure NRL rule of “mutual infringement” which Badger could have invoked that would have given the Knights a scrum feed 10m out from the visitors line.
Under the determination of mutual infringement, which can also occur for example when the ball hits the referee, the team with the territorial advantage is given the loose head and feed at the ensuing scrum.
Instead, the Knights received the ball 40m downfield from the drop out.
“It was a very unusual incident,” Archer said in his weekly address on the NRL website on Monday.
“The ball was grounded by Wests Tigers after the kick from the Knights.
“For the referee to determine a mutual infringement has occurred, and he is the sole judge of this, he has to determine if the play is irregularly affected.”
“Where play has been irregularly affected he would rule a scrum 10m out from the goal line and Newcastle would have had the loose and feed.”
Archer said he was happy with Badger’s approach regardless.
“The referee assessed the situation and determined the most appropriate restart was a goal line restart and he explained that to the Wests Tigers,” he said.
“The reason why he ruled a goal dropout was because of the grounding of the ball by the Wests Tigers and subsequently play resumed that way.”
In other controversial incidents from the NRL’s sixth round, Archer said he was happy with a call from the bunker that upheld a no-try to the Knights after a knock on ruled against Sims.
Archer was happy with the process from the bunker that stuck with the live decision to award a try to Ben Barba in Cronulla’s win over Gold Coast on Sunday following scrutiny over a James Maloney knock-on.
The officiating supremo also agreed with a no try call against Cronulla due to illegal contact from Jack Bird on Cameron Cullen and that the bunker was allowed to rule on the incident.
Archer also said a no try call against St George Illawarra forward Jack DeBellin in the loss to Brisbane on Thursday night was the right one.