Opinions are divided on a game-deciding penalty that gave the Sydney Roosters a 21-20 win over the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night, with even Brisbane’s coach seemingly internally split on the call.
- The bunker penalised a high tackle in the lead-up to a Roosters knock-on with two minutes left in the game
- Former players were divided on whether the tackle deserved a penalty
- Broncos coach Kevin Walters said his team wasn’t “dudded” but implied he wouldn’t like to see a decision like that decide a grand final
With two-and-a-half minutes left in a see-sawing game at Lang Park, the Broncos appeared to have taken a big step towards victory after Roosters forward Sitili Tupouniua lost the ball in a tackle by Tom Flegler.
Egan Butcher regathered for the Roosters and, pivotally, knocked on while trying to play the ball, allowing James Tedesco to issue a captain’s challenge on the Flegler tackle.
Video referee Henry Perenara initially only saw the ball knocked loose by Flegler’s left hand, saying “the ball’s gone backwards by Sitili Tupouniua, we’re playing on to this stage”, but on-field referee Ashley Klein asked him: “What about the contact?”
After another couple of replays, Perenara saw that Flegler’s forearm caught Tupouniua on the nose and the penalty was ultimately awarded, with Adam Keighran nailing a clutch goal from nine metres in from touch to win the Roosters the game.
After the game, Broncos coach Kevin Walters was asked about the call and said he did not “have a grievance”.
“That’s the way the game goes sometimes. Footy can be cruel, but it can also be a great game,” he said.
“If you’re sitting in the Roosters sheds you love the game, if you’re sitting in ours at the moment it’s not so good.
Although Walters did cryptically say he had not “had time to digest it yet, but if that decides a grand final …”, before trailing off.
Former Rooster Braith Anasta was disappointed with the ruling and made his feelings known in commentary on Fox Sports.
“Can you give a penalty against that? You can’t surely. No way that’s reportable. That’s a love tap,” Anasta said.
“They may have got a little bit lucky here. I find it very hard to watch that and think that’s a penalty.”
On Channel Nine’s coverage, former representative stars Sonny Bill Williams and Paul Gallen agreed that it was hard to see the tackle as a penalty, but Roosters legend Brad Fittler said it was a pretty simple equation.
“He still hit him around the head,” the former coach and captain at Bondi said.
“For 11 weeks they’ve tried to coerce players to bring down their tackles. They’ve slackened off a bit, as you can see during the game they get away with a few, but right at the death and because it was scrutinised and in slow-motion, he hit him in the head.”
The victory put the Roosters into the top four, ahead of the struggling Parramatta Eels, who can take back fourth spot with a win over Manly Sea Eagles tonight.