Video referees need to see it to believe it
Matt Utai scores for the Wests Tigers. AAP Image/Action Photographics/Brett Crockford
Hands up if you agree with the video referee all of the time in the NRL? Just when you think you know what button he’s about to push, along comes another decision that leaves you scratching your head.
The Wests Tigers clash against Melbourne last night was always going to be decided by the smallest of margins, given mother nature didn’t smile on the city.
In the 70th minute, with the Tigers leading 10 – 2, a missed tackle from Benji Marshall and a poor read from Blake Ayshford allowed Ryan Hoffman to send Dane Nielsen hurtling towards the line.
Nielsen found himself wedged between Beau Ryan and Tom Humble.
The Storm centre crashed over and Gerard Sutton, who was right on the spot, asked video referee Russell Smith for some help.
One replay showed the ball on Ryan’s foot which Nielsen tries to force away. The other showed humble clinging to Nielsen and the ball with everything he’s got.
At no point can you clearly see the ball hitting the turf.
In theory, a case could be made for a benefit of the doubt try.
The more logical outcome is to leave it up to Sutton as he was standing about one metre from the incident.
Instead, Smith rules it’s a try. There’s apparently no doubt at all in his mind.
Now, unless Smith has x-ray vision or found a camera on the roof, there is no way he could conclusively say the ball has touched the ground.
Last weekend, I said Player X, writing in the Daily Telegraph, was wrong to question the value the video referee adds to the game.
Given this incident is the latest to diminish my faith in the men in the box it seems like a silly argument to make once let alone twice.
But, as I said last week, the actual process isn’t the problem.
Video shows a situation for what it is.
Most people watching replays of Nielsen struggling to find a blade of grass would agree, I believe, that there was a fair amount of doubt surrounding whether he successfully grounded the ball.
The video referee disagreed.
The decision made it 10 – 6 and the Tigers were out on their feet for the final 10-minutes of the match.
Thankfully, the result didn’t hinge on the controversial try, but the next big call is just around the corner. It could be tonight.
A win or a loss on a questionable call could make or break a season. A coach could lose their job or a team miss out on the eight.
A video referee shouldn’t be able to just believe something has happened. They need to have clear visual proof.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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