Parramatta Eels offside on Gold Coast Titans field goal attempt, Graham Annesley referee briefing, video, reaction

The NRL admits the Titans should have been awarded a penalty in the final few minutes of their game against the Eels which would have put them in front and within two competition points of the top eight if they’d held on for the win.

What makes it even tougher to swallow for Titans fans is that it’s the second week in a row that their team has had a game decided by an offside penalty, although the NRL says the correct call was made in Round 19 when Erin Clark jumped off the line too early which allowed the Dolphins to win in golden point.

NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley praised referee Grant Atkins for making the tough call in the Dolphins game, but he couldn’t defend the officials at CommBank Stadium for not blowing the whistle.

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Referee Chris Butler should have penalised the Eels for being offside. Picture; Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The Titans were down 25-24 with four minutes to go when halfback Tanah Boyd had a field goal charged down by Shaun Lane.

The problem was Lane and Ryan Matterson were both offside, as was Eels skipper Clint Gutherson who stopped chasing Boyd once he was called out by referee Chris Butler.

Annesley says it was a bad miss by the officials, and said the onus was on the touch judges to tell Butler that the Eels were offside.

Tanah Boyd had his first field goal attempt charged down by Shaun Lane who was offside. Picture; Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Last week I stood here and defended referees for making a strong call on players who were offside when there was a field goal attempted that would have determined the outcome of the game,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this week I can’t mount the same defence for the officials.

“You can see that they’re at least one step or a metre over the goal line as the ball clears the ruck, which places them offside.

“There’s no doubt in this particular incident that the touch judge on the near side should have called those players offside.

“When they went through and the ball was charged down by Lane, the referee should have penalised him on the advice of the touch judge, but that advice didn’t come.

“There are many times I stand here and defend the decisions of the match officials, but you can’t defend it when it’s obviously wrong.”

Graham Annesley wasn’t too concerned with another incident later in the game, but said he wouldn’t have had an issue if the referee decided to award a penalty. Picture; The Advertiser/ Morgan SetteSource: News Corp Australia

There was another controversial moment 40 seconds later when Boyd sprayed a second field goal attempt, with Butler clearly telling Reagan Campbell-Gillard that he wasn’t square at marker.

The Eels prop stopped about five metres away from Boyd who may have had the big man in his eye line when he took the shot.

Annesley said this one was far more subjective and wouldn’t have been upset if Butler decided to penalise Campbell-Gillard.

“He started to run, but then on the second call of his name he pulls up and consequently doesn’t follow through to the kicker,” he said.

“This one is not as serious as the first one because the player responded to the call that he was offside and checked his run.

“The referee could well have decided to give a penalty, but we do see many instances in games where a player checks their run on a call from the referee and they don’t take that action.

“I’m not saying he complied with the rules, but he did comply with the call. The previous one, they were just offside and there was no call from the officials.”

The NRL is concerned with the number of players lifting their bumpers and catching defenders in the head. Picture; NRL.COMSource: Supplied

Annesley also addressed the worrying trend of ball carriers putting up their bumpers and hitting defenders in the head, with Victor Radley and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui both placed on report over the weekend, while Brisbane’s Selwyn Cobbo was sent to the sin bin but wasn’t charged.

There have already been 53 incidents that have been reviewed by the match review committee this season, with seven charges laid and a further seven concerning acts issued to clubs.

The NRL has made it clear they want to protect the head and neck of both the attacker and the defender, which is why Annesley had no issue with Cobbo being sent to the sin bin even though it was an accidental knee that forced Canterbury’s Toby Sexton out of the game.

Selwyn Cobbo was sent to the sin bin even though replays showed it was his knee that injured Toby Sexton. Picture; NRL.COMSource: Supplied

“If you are lifting and extending, you place yourself at risk of a penalty, sin bin, send off or charge,” he said.

“In certain incidents there are other elements at play, but the moment you start lifting and raising and extending (your arm) then you take your chances.”

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