Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has vowed not to talk wrestling ahead of his side’s NRL grand final qualifier against Melbourne next Saturday.
The Raiders are now just 80 minutes away from a first grand final appearance in 22 years after holding off a fast-finishing Penrith 22-12 at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
And Stuart was not only delighted with his team’s courageous effort, but was particularly effusive of the officiating compared to their previous week’s loss to Cronulla.
“What pleased me today was that it was ten metres and there was an interpretations in the ruck. That’s what pleased me, because you’re allowed to play football,” he said post-game.
However, Stuart was quick to distance himself from any criticism of the Storm’s defensive tactics, which came under scrutiny from North Queensland coach Paul Green two weeks ago.
Bellamy, who was a teammate of Stuart’s at the Raiders between 1988-92, angrily dismissed Green’s comments as “predictable” before his team claimed the qualifying final win.
“I’m not one of those coaches who’s going to come out and start having a shot about wrestle, which seems to happen every time some team plays against Melbourne, not at all,” Stuart said.
“Last week, there was no interpretation about the ruck, last week there was no ten metres.
“And when you’re a football team like ours that want to play with the football and enjoy attacking flow, the interpretations didn’t allow it last week.”
Saturday’s win over Penrith continued a dream run for the Raiders, who became the last of the 16 teams in the competition to progress through to the preliminary final in the NRL era.
Next week’s anticipated final at AAMI Park will also be Stuart’s first visit to a grand final qualifier since leading the Sydney Roosters to consecutive preliminary final games in 2003-04.
However he warned his team that another 20-minute fadeout, like the one that allowed Penrith into the game on Saturday night, will be suicide against the minor premiers.
“We made it so much more difficult on ourselves by being too arrogant with the football. If we’re like that against Melbourne, we’ll get touched up,” he said.
“Melbourne are ruthless, and take advantage of teams’ error and they a take a huge advantage of teams making poor fundamental mistakes like we did tonight.”