'Go the doggies!'
Hundreds of Bulldogs fans flocked to Belmore oval to give the team one last cheer before their grand final against Melbourne on Sunday.PT0M0S 620 349
CANTERBURY captain Michael Ennis agrees it would be a great shame if Sunday's grand final was to be marred by a controversial refereeing decision.
Officiating has been a major issue during the semi-finals, with the performances of video referees in particular coming in for stinging criticism.
Tony Archer and Ben Cummins were named yesterday as the on-field referees for the grand final, while Chris Ward will be joined upstairs by Shayne Hayne, who can usually be found with a whistle in hand but has vaulted ahead of video box specialists to get a start on the two-man review team.
May the best team win ... Michael Ennis has seen enough refereeing howlers. Photo: Simon Alekna
Ennis said the Bulldogs were too busy preparing this week to worry about potential refereeing clangers costing them a premiership but hopes the officials get it right. ''I think everyone in the game would love on Sunday for there to be no controversial decisions regarding the referees because it's really overshadowed some really good games of football this year,'' he said.
''All you can do is hope that they will do the best job on the day. You shouldn't put yourself in that position. You should be playing well enough that you don't need to worry about a refereeing decision but sometimes you can't control it either.''
While the Bulldogs won the minor premiership, they enter the grand final having won only three of 26 penalty counts this season, according to Sportsdata figures. Melbourne, by comparison, have won 10 of 26 counts.
Former Bulldogs premiership-winning captain Terry Lamb said he was ''absolutely'' concerned the decisive match of the season could be determined by another highly questionable - or simply wrong - call from the video box.
''And that's all they'll read about the next day,'' said Lamb, who is still involved at Belmore as a club ambassador and with the Bulldogs' NSW Cup team. ''It's a joke. The video referee … it's got to be black and white, it can't be benefit of the doubt. It's a 'yes' or 'no' question. We don't need this controversy. We've been putting up with this all year and video referees are getting caned for it.''
Video referees Steve Clark and Paul Simpkins, and touch judge Jeff Younis, were sacked after the second week of the finals for their roles in wrongly awarding two tries during Manly's win over North Queensland at Allianz Stadium.
Archer, who will adjudicate his sixth first-grade grand final in a row, said he had full confidence in the game's video officials. ''If I have any doubt over a decision I'll send it upstairs,'' Archer said. ''If I don't have doubt I'll make it myself. My expectation of [the video ref] is that he will do the best that he can do.''
Referees coach Bill Harrigan said he wanted his officials to forget recent controversies. ''I'm not looking back, I'm looking forward to this week and preparing these guys as best as we can,'' he said. ''I can guarantee that they're working hard to make sure they go out there and try not to make mistakes.''