Rugby League


Storm in a teacup as NRL clears up controversy over Raiders' win

What was all the fuss about? It seems Canberra's controversial win over Melbourne on Sunday was a Storm in a teacup.

The NRL has backed match officials for getting it "exactly right" in the no-try ruling against Melbourne's Sisa Waqa, late in Canberra's thrilling 24-22 win on Sunday.

The on-field decision to deny Waqa a try in the 71st minute was upheld by video referee Luke Phillips, the Raiders going on to snatch victory with a late try to Paul Vaughan.

The decision against Waqa was widely criticised, including by Channel Nine commentator and Immortal Andrew Johns, while Storm coach Craig Bellamy said "everyone’s just sick of games being decided on controversial calls''.

But NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said further analysis showed the referees made the correct call against Waqa, with Raiders centre Jarrod Croker coming across in desperate defence to prevent him grounding the ball for a try.

“This was a really tough call to make but the match officials got it exactly right," Greenberg said.


“The games are so close and so exciting at the moment that every call is being closely scrutinised.

“What we are finding is that some match officials who are being criticised for their calls are actually getting them right.”

But Greenberg said Canberra's next opponents, Manly, should not have been awarded a try in their controversial win over the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night.

Manly’s Kieran Foran, who will miss a month of football with a knee injury, was awarded the match-winning try, despite appearing to benefit from obstruction. It cost the Cowboys victory.

“Naturally, when referees use their discretion there will be debate from time to time,” Greenberg said.

The Raiders are unchanged for their match against Manly at Brookvale on Sunday, the Sea Eagles naming both Stewart brothers despite a testing week for them. Brett Stewart was charged with low-range drink driving on Monday, while stalwart Glenn Stewart announced his signing with Souths on Tuesday.

With Foran out and Test forward Anthony Watmough named but struggling with injury, Croker said Manly was a team that thrived under adversity.

"They're one of the best teams as it is, let alone with adversity that brings them a bit closer,'' Croker said. "We all know how tough Manly is, physically they're probably one of the toughest sides in the competition, especially down at Brookie.

"They'll be fired up. Adversity normally fires up most teams.''

Croker said it was Canberra's own team bond that contributed to victory last Sunday. While Croker was responsible for three try-saving tackles, he said the Raiders had consistently talked about building a culture of "mateship".

"We spoke about the culture we're trying to bring to the club now. If it wasn't me there it would have been someone else there in the 17,'' Croker said of his crucial tackles. "We're playing for each other out there.

"One Josh Papalii saved really went unnoticed, it was a big tackle. That's what we're building here at the moment."

Croker would usually go head-to-head with Jamie Lyon, who the 23-year-old has tried to model his game on. But Foran's injury has forced Lyon's move to five-eighth.

While Lyon has withdrawn his interest in playing representative football, Croker - in the form of his career - said he would love a shot for NSW Country. The team is selected after Sunday's match, with Croker and Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton both in line for a centre position.

"It's when your team's winning football games that players get picked in rep sides,'' Croker said.

"Hopefully on the weekend we can string a bit of momentum together ... who knows from there.

"I feel good defensively, the big thing there is having Jack Wighton inside me. Defensively he's so strong and makes me feel really comfortable."