Raiders fans had more than one reason to be disappointed after Canberra's golden point 21-20 loss to the Warriors on Saturday, with NRL legends ripping into the officiating against the men in green.
With Jack Wighton also facing two weeks out for a dangerous throw, it's no wonder NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler believes the "footy gods" are against the Raiders.
Fittler was gobsmacked by two huge refereeing decisions, both of which involved Warriors forward Matt Lodge and negatively impacted the Raiders.
The first incident was Lodge's elbow to the face of Corey Harawira-Naera, and the second controversial moment saw him drop to the turf dramatically after a seemingly soft high arm by Corey Horsburgh which gave the Warriors a penalty to send the match into golden point, and ultimately win the game.
"The footy gods definitely didn't turn up, because Matt Lodge elbows a bloke in the head, and just gets penalised, then lies down after getting a little tap on the forehead and that draws the game and gives them a chance to win," Fittler said on Nine's Sunday Footy Show.
On Sunday morning the NRL match review committee let Lodge escape with a $1000 fine on a grade-one dangerous contact charge, but Fittler and Origin great Billy Slater believed he should have at least been sent to the sin bin for his high elbow.
"I thought that was awful. That was a bad elbow ... got him straight in the head. He only got penalised," Fittler said.
"If I'm in the bunker ... they had absolutely no feel for the game.
"Minimum sin bin. Minimum. Seriously. Can't believe what [Lodge] was thinking. Even when I was seeing the replays, it was straight at his head. That was a bad call."
Slater added: "Forceful contact to the head in any form is a sin bin."
Both league commentators also expressed shock Horsburgh was penalised and put on report for the high contact on Lodge in the final minutes of regular time.
"That [Horsburgh tackle] is not a penalty," Slater said.
"There's no way in the world I'm giving a penalty in this situation. He barely touched him," Fittler said.
Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson went on to kick a field goal in golden point from right in front, sealing their come-from-behind victory and the fifth-straight loss for Canberra.
The match review committee didn't end up charging Horsburgh for the decisive incident, while teammate Joe Tapine also escaped a charge for a facial on Warriors lock Ben Murdoch-Masila.
But Raiders playmaker Wighton was not so lucky.
Wighton was dealt a grade-two charge for a dangerous lifting tackle on Warriors fullback Reece Walsh in the first half. An early plea will keep Wighton sidelined for two matches and should he roll the dice and fight the charge and be found guilty, he will cop three matches.
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Melanie Dinjaski is an experienced sports journalist at the Canberra Times with a genuine love of all sports. She's covered every code from NRL to NFL, and has experience in print, digital, podcasting, TV and video journalism, having spent time working in newsrooms at Nine, Fox Sports and Seven before moving to the capital. Melanie aims to bring Canberrans all the sports news they need to know - have a story worth sharing? Get in touch!
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