The NRL has admitted the bunker got it wrong by awarding North Queensland a controversial late penalty in their 27-26 win over Wests Tigers on Sunday.
After the Tigers issued an official “please explain” and said they might appeal the result, the NRL stood by the Cowboys’ right to lodge a captain’s challenge over the incident, but admitted error in the eventual call.
Down 26-25 with one second to play, the Cowboys claimed Kyle Feldt was escorted off a short kick off and obstructed from reclaiming the ball.
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No penalty was blown on-field but Cowboys captain Chad Townsend made his case to referee Chris Butler before the challenge was allowed.
Bunker official Ashley Klein then ruled that Tigers outside back AJ Kepaoa impeded Feldt, but on Monday the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley admitted that ruling was wrong.
“We’ve examined that carefully this morning from all available footage, and we’re just not satisfied there was enough in that incident to warrant the decision of the bunker,” Annesley said.
“Yes there was contact, yes there was a collision.
“But we believe the Wests Tigers player was heading towards the ball, he didn’t look over his shoulder to see who was behind him.”
But Annesley was adamant the Cowboys were within their rights to challenge, despite no call being made by the referee on the field.
“You won’t find anything in black and white in regards to what happened yesterday,” Annesley said.
“In our view it was allowable in those circumstances.
“The rules around a captain’s challenge talk about you can challenge any decision for the referee to stop the game.”
The feedback will do little to please the Tigers, who are still weighing up whether to launch legal action to try to overturn the result.
“We believe the officials got it wrong, plain and simple,” CEO Justin Pascoe said in a statement.
“That decision has cost us victory and we want answers.
“I’m not here to bash officials, I know they are doing their best, but the bunker is there to avoid ‘howlers’.
“We would like an explanation from the NRL, and our members and fans deserve that.”
The Tigers also received support from other coaches on Monday, including arch-rival Ivan Cleary who claimed the incident was cringeworthy.
The Panthers coach also said he had believed teams could not challenge the full-time whistle.
“But just because I didn’t know about it, doesn’t mean everyone else didn’t know,” he told reporters.
“It’s just a really bad call, that’s how I would look at it. I was just cringing watching it.
“I feel like the captain’s challenge is getting more muddled by the minute.”
© AAP 2022