Coach Shane Flanagan has taken a swipe at the NRL bunker after Cronulla had to overcome two controversial decisions to eke out a 34-26 NRL win over the Wests Tigers.
Leading 18-16 with half an hour remaining, the Sharks found themselves on the wrong end of a pair of contentious obstruction calls over the next four minutes that almost cost them Saturday night’s game at Campbelltown.
Ricky Leutele was denied a try when skipper Paul Gallen was deemed to have impeded Tigers centre Kevin Naiqama as he attempted to tackle Chris Heighington before Heighington could deliver the money ball to the flying three-quarter.
Gallen, in what was his first match back from a four-week layoff with a knee injury, then gave up on a defensive play after making contact with Tigers decoy Chris Lawrence.
Fullback James Tedesco strolled through the ensuing gap to give the Tigers a two-point lead.
An angry Flanagan said the bunker came up with “two dud calls” over the disallowed and then conceded try.
“That’s a 12-point turnaround,” he said.
“The player stands in the line, our defensive line, and obstructs Gal getting to the player,” Flanagan said of the second incident.
“It doesn’t matter how much he’s obstructed, he obstructed him. That’s the rules. They got it wrong.”
Tigers coach Jason Taylor all but agreed with him on the Tedesco try.
“We talk to our players all the time – don’t stop him on the outside shoulder because it’s a penalty. If we did it tonight, it’s a mistake. But I didn’t see it,” he said.
Fortunately for the Sharks, it didn’t matter as Gallen reclaimed the lead for good when he received a face-ball from Michael Ennis to cross in the 57th minute.
Tedesco had earlier survived an opening-minute concussion scare to inspire his side to a 16-6 lead inside the opening half hour that had the 12,831 crowd rocking.
The NSW State of Origin fancy was floored by an accidental Luke Lewis knee in their first set and stayed down for several minutes before being helped from the ground.
But after being cleared of concussion, Tedesco set up David Nofoaluma with his first touch. He then scored one himself.
But the Sharks slowly ground their way back into the contest, with Ben Barba capping off a strong outing with the game-sealing try in the 70th minute.
Tigers centre Tim Simona was put on report for a second half crusher tackle on Jack Bird.