NRL head of football Graham Annesley has defended the six-again rule despite conceding Canberra could have been awarded three penalties rather than fresh sets in the last 20 seconds of their 12-10 loss to St George Illawarra.
The Raiders were attacking the Dragons’ line in search of a late try on Sunday when St George Illawarra captain Ben Hunt was guilty of three infringements.
The first two calls – an offside and a flop on prop Joe Tapine on the penultimate play of the game – were rewarded with six-agains by referee Peter Gough.
The third was where Hunt was not square at marker on the last play of the game and he rushed out to stop dummy-half Tom Starling.
Gough didn’t signal for a penalty and it meant the 11th-placed Raiders were cut adrift from the battle for a finals spot by four points.
A penalty would have allowed the Raiders the chance to tie up the game and send it to golden point.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart claimed Gough lacked “courage” in not penalising Hunt, with Annesley conceding the Raiders could have been awarded three separate penalties.
“In most cases when you see that kind of tackle (to stop Starling) it results in a penalty,” Annesley said.
“In our view that should have been a penalty.
“There are three incidents; the offside, the flop and then there is the move around to tackle the dummy-half.
“Any of those three could have been determined to be a professional foul and a penalty and possibly a sin bin.”
Annesley said Stuart had been spoken with the NRL’s referees department on Monday.
He also claimed the six-again rule was here to stay and said the NRL wouldn’t revert to a two-referee system.
“We think that a single referee has added a lot to the game and has allowed the game to continue,” Annesley said.
“The six-again has been a bonus for the referees in allowing them to try and get a level of compliance with stopping the game.”
Annesley also said referee Gerard Sutton made a mistake by penalising Sydney Roosters hooker Sam Verrills for a tackle on Penrith’s Scott Sorensen on Friday.
In the 39th minute, Verrills made a straightforward tackle on Sorensen who nosedived towards the ground, earning a penalty which led to a try to Viliame Kikau on the next set.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson, whose side lost 26-18, called it a “horrible decision” and Annesley concurred.
“In the history of the game, most would agree that it is a copybook around-the-legs tackle,” he said.
“We don’t believe there is any reason why this tackle should have been penalised.”