Hits and Misses: Referees frustrate fans again

This week we take a look at a weekend where the referees stood out a little too much, the brilliant Grand Final replay, a major mess-up from Josh Addo-Carr and fitting tribute to John Sattler.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Come on refs!

There were some real head scratchers over the weekend from the match officials, with game-deciding forward pass calls in the Sea Eagles loss to the Rabbitohs, a Dragons player held back by the Sharks when the game was still up for grabs, and a match-winning try to the Warriors which at least deserved a full bunker review, among some of the most notable.

Rugby league is a fiercely contested game that can be decided by the bounce of the ball, a player's error or sheer unstoppable brilliance. No one likes to see the result determined by the match officials. Even during a relatively mistake-free game, the referees continue to have way too much influence on the outcome through arbitrary six again calls and inconsistencies in policing the rules. It can be very frustrating being a fan sometimes.


Eels hooker turns brilliant Grand Final replay

When the Eels lost hooker Reed Mahoney to the Bulldogs and back-up Mitch Rein to retirement, they quickly signed Raiders veteran Josh Hodgson to fill the empty dummy-half role. But lurking in their ranks was 23-year-old Penrith junior, Brendan Hands, who made his first grade debut for the Eels off the bench in the Grand Final replay against the Panthers on Thursday.

With the scores locked at eight apiece in an exciting arm wrestle of a game in Parramatta, Hands skipped out of dummy-half near halfway, and found half Mitchell Moses. Moses perfectly timed his pass to Eels backrower Matt Doorey who poked his head through the Panthers line before slipping a short ball to the increasingly impressive Will Penisini.

The Eels centre dragged Panthers winger Sunia Turuva behind him long enough to have Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards commit to either tackle him or his most likely support, winger Bailey Simonsson. Instead Penisini slung a one-handed pass inside to Hands who was supporting up the middle as a good hooker should. Hands raced away to score a try which, when converted, gave the Eels a 14-8 lead. A penalty goal then extended their lead to 16-8, but everyone watching somehow knew the game wasn't over.

With nine minutes remaining, the Panthers scored under the posts to allow them to move within two points. With only a couple of minutes to go, they worked their way from deep inside their own territory, before a high shot from Eels prop Junior Paulo saw him sin binned and the Panthers awarded a penalty near halfway. Nathan Cleary kicked the ball into touch right on the 40 metre line. From the tap, the ball was passed to Cleary who calmly kicked a 43-metre two-point field goal to level the scores as the fulltime siren sounded.

Golden point extra time started with the ball kicked to the Panthers who finished the set with a kick for territory. As the Eels worked their way out of their own end of the field, Panthers hooker Mitch Kenny was pulled up for a high shot of his own and was sent to join Paulo in the bin. The Eels hit the ball up until they were in field goal position and the newly re-signed $6 million man Mitchell Moses slotted the field goal to finish off what was a brilliant game of rugby league.


Foxx error the turning point in Dogs loss

There were many who thought the inclusion of Josh Addo-Carr would have meant a Blues Origin victory last season. His speed and try scoring ability was on show for the Bulldogs in Auckland on Sunday, but so were some of the things that may have contributed to his Origin omission.

With the Bulldogs leading 14-6 into the second half Addo-Carr found himself tracking back under a high kick. A winger of his class had to be aware of his location, he really should have taken a few quick short steps to make sure he was in the in-goal area before safely catching the ball. Instead he put in a leap that a ballerina would have been proud of, as though he deliberately wanted his last contact with the ground to be within the field of play.

To compound the error, when confronted by the Warriors chasers, he threw an awful pass across his in-goal area, which was a Warriors' fumble away from being a try. Still, it resulted in a drop-out and allowed the Warriors to camp inside the Bulldogs' 20 for some time until the defence finally cracked. The extra defensive work also contributed to their late game fade, which allowed the Warriors to snatch a 16-14 victory.

It's not something New South Wales selectors would have been hoping to see from Addo-Carr. It certainly won't help his chances of playing Origin again this year.


A fitting tribute to a South legend

As the Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs game ground towards full time, both teams became engaged in an exchange of safe completions-first footy. Hit-ups, a few passes, nothing too adventurous, kick for territory, repeat. The players from both teams looked exhausted, as full time came with the scores locked at 12, sending another game into golden point extra time.

The Sea Eagles were first to receive the ball and disastrously dropped the it cold on the third tackle.

With the rabbit on their jerseys cut in half to emulate the tattered logo on John Sattler's 1970 Grand Final jersey, the Rabbitohs set themselves for a winning field goal. The ball was fired to Latrell Mitchell early in the tackle count, but the pass was bad enough that Mitchell only had time to scoop it up before running it to the left to avoid the charging defence. Two tackles later the ball was sent instead to young Lachlan Ilias who hit the drop kick sweetly, the ball sailing high and straight to win the game.

It was a night when the historic club remembered one of their legends, with the Sattler family joining the players before the game for a minute's silence in the middle of the field. The crowd applauded at the 13th minute, 13 being Sattler's number in the 1970 Grand Final, and in the end the Rabbitohs won by scoring 13 points.


What a spectacular night we saw at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium as the Broncos battled the Dolphins, in a complete hit for rugby league and for Queensland. The reason this game makes it into the 'MISS" category is the unfortunate injuries to two key Dolphins, which really ruined their chances of claiming a famous victory.

Firstly Dolphins utility Kodi Nikorima sustained a heavy knock and cut above his eye, forcing him to leave the field to then fail a HIA. Then with a quarter of the game remaining and the Dolphins fighting their way back, halfback Sean O'Sullivan sustained a suspected torn pectoral muscle.The injuries not only dented their chances at Suncorp on a memorable night, but leave them to find a new halves combination for the weeks ahead.


Storm onto another diamond

Melbourne Storm have a knack for unearthing hidden gems and they may have done it again with 25-year-old winger William Warbrick. His road to the purple jersey has to be unique. Born and raised in New Zealand he played Aussie Rules football as a child before moving on to rugby union. He found is way into the New Zealand sevens team and in 2020 won an Olympic silver medal.

He scored the Storms opening try against the Tigers. He is tall, quick and as the old expression goes, knows his way to the try line.