The Roar
The Roar


Henry hints at Sydney NRL conspiracy

The Sharks host the Cowboys in the match of the round. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
14th September, 2013
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NRL boss Dave Smith was forced to apologise for an embarrassing refereeing blunder that had North Queensland coach Neil Henry suggesting a Sydney conspiracy as the Cowboys were controversially dumped out of the NRL finals on Saturday with a 20-18 loss to Cronulla.

For the second year in a row, the Cowboys were dudded by the officials after the Sharks scored a try on the seventh tackle, the drama taking away from an epic contest not decided until the video referee denied Kane Kinnett a last-minute try.

Even that was tinged with controversy with the clock left stranded on 41 seconds to go as the Cowboys launched a last-ditch bid – but it was the extra tackle granted the Sharks when Beau Ryan crossed on eight minutes that had Henry seeing red.

As if being let down by the officials once is not bad enough – it comes after the Cowboys were also on the end of a video referee howler on the same ground last year with a missed Kieran Foran knock-on that cost them a win.

“How can two men, experienced full-time referees, two touch judges, two blokes up in a video box not be counting,” Henry said.

“We’re all well aware that we had chances in the game after that to make that up – but it astounds me that it happened.

“You expect the players to perform on the biggest stage … well, your referees have got to perform too and they’ve proven a couple of years in row now they’re not up to it.

“It’s embarrassing for the game, and I got that from the top – they’re embarrassed … it doesn’t give us a game next week.”

That wasn’t the end of Henry’s measured rant.


“If you were (a believer of) a conspiracy theory, you’d go hang on – they’re so Sydney-centric here, they don’t really care about the boys up north.

“The press talks about the ideal grand final – Souths-Roosters – bring it on.

“Yeah, well we’ve just been dudded of the opportunity to make a dent in this competition.

“You get a bit bitter about it when it’s happened two years in a row.

Sharks’ skipper Paul Gallen played down the impact of the incident on the result.

“It’s part of the game; the Cowboys didn’t stop trying to defend it,” Gallen said.

“Unfortunate for them – about time we had a bit of luck.”

They might have had luck, but there was plenty of courage as well, the Sharks out on their feet when the game seemed lost as they trailed 18-12 after two quick tries to the Cowboys – including a momentum-changing 95m intercept to Wayne Ulugia.


Sam Tagataese finished off some fine work from Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon to cut the deficit to two – with Gordon missing a simple conversion that could have proved costly.

It didn’t, despite Todd Carney’s hamstring going on him again.

Jeff Robson stepped up to the plate with an ugly but effective pass for Sosaia Feki – whose knock-on in the second minute led to the Cowboys’ opening try – as he slid over in the corner to give his side a lead seven minutes from time.

They didn’t let it go, thanks largely to a John Morris try-saver on Linnett in the final minute which seemingly went forever.