Dean Whare of the Sea Eagles scores a try during the round nine NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Canberra Raiders at Brookvale Oval yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Frustrated Canberra Raiders coach David Furner questioned whether the referees thought the Raiders could win after contentious decisions cost the Raiders dearly in an 18-12 loss to Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale yesterday.
Furner will ring NRL referees boss Bill Harrigan this week because he ''wants some answers'' after yesterday's loss.
His comments may come under some scrutiny by the NRL, which can slap coaches with a $10,000 fine for criticising or questioning the integrity of referees.
Manly Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders
Manly Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders at Brookvale Oval on May 6. Photo: Getty Images
While attempting to be diplomatic after the match, Furner was fuming after a couple of late refereeing calls cost his side in the second half.
Not wanting to detract from the Raiders' gutsy effort was possibly the only thing that prevented Furner from unloading both barrels on the officials.
''I think everyone who watched the game, it was pretty obvious there what turned it around, or put us in the situation to lose the game,'' Furner said.
''I don't think anyone expected us to come and here and win, maybe not them [the referees].
''What I look at is the overall penalty count, 8-3 … we're not nearly a three-times worse side in discipline than Manly.
''I don't want to sit here and whinge about the referees because I think it takes away from what I think was a good game. Certainly some of the decisions didn't help us, that's the best way to describe it … you go and have a look and see what was done and whether they [the penalties] were mandatory and needed.''
Pressed on whether he would contact Harrigan this week, Furner replied, ''I don't think it's a waste of time, I think I need to''.
''We've certainly got a good relationship there, but I want some answers.''
Midway through the second half and with Manly ahead 16-12, officials missed a knock-on from Manly winger Jorge Taufua which would have given Canberra an attacking set 20 metres out.
And with three minutes left the Raiders should have received a penalty when lock Shaun Fensom was ruled to have knocked on with his side on the attack.
Replays showed a Manly defender should have been penalised for ruck interference.
''I wasn't real happy about the call,'' Fensom said.
''I played the ball and I played it on to one of their feet, and they've deemed it a knock-on. I can't do anything about that, unfortunately. It was a major call in the game. There were only about five minutes to go and we were on the front foot, only six points behind.''
After conceding an unacceptable 44 points at home to Cronulla last week, Canberra's subsequent attitude adjustment in defence worked wonders.
It scrambled well and missed 26 tackles to Manly's 28, and its positional changes also worked a treat.
After coming off the bench late in the first half, Shaun Berrigan lifted Canberra's attack noticeably at hooker when replacing Travis Waddell.
The Raiders looked far more dangerous with the 34-year-old at dummy half, and Jack Wighton was superb defensively at Berrigan's previous spot right centre.
''Jacko [Wighton] is only a young kid but he handled centre well, and Berro was very creative with his experience around that nine,'' Furner said. ''We put a lot of effort in and didn't get the two points, but we have to make sure we maintain that same attitude, particularly in defence.
''We can't switch off one week and then bring it the next.''
After heavy losses to the Cronulla Sharks and Brisbane Broncos in the past fortnight, the Raiders showed enough to suggest they can recover from their 3-6 start.
They enjoyed plenty of success with short balls around the ruck, and the kicking games of young halves Josh McCrone and Sam Williams improved markedly.