Mate, are your eyes painted on?

Martin Millard Roar Pro

By Martin Millard, Martin Millard is a Roar Pro

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40 Have your say

    That question-accusation is a tame retelling of what I see spat at rugby league officials every weekend, at all levels in our game.

    For thirty years I have experienced teammates, coaches, managers, trainers, club officials, and team supporters mistake passion for abuse.

    From a rugby league supporters level I have heard respected senior coaches, commentators, and players regularly imply that referees have been responsible for outcomes in an eighty minutes. From juniors all the way to the NRL, the accountability of a loss is shunted because it seems we as a sport do not have the minerals to mature beyond the adolescence in our game.

    The Cronulla Sharks succumbed to the North Queensland Cowboys by a field goal in an extra time thriller on Sunday. It was grit, it was grind, it was contentious. There were 50-50 calls both ways, and were the result reversed it may very well have been Paul Green reading from a list of grievances at a press conference.

    Though I very much doubt it.

    Putting things into context Cronulla are the second-most penalised side in their own red zone behind only Newcastle, and they spend nowhere near the same amount of time in their red zone as Newcastle. They deliberately concede red zone penalties to disrupt and discourage the opposition attack.

    During the regular season these tactics landed some close and contentious wins for Cronulla. But as the saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword”.

    Shane Flanagan has next to zero right to question those decisions publicly because of his obvious bias, and his team’s obvious tactics.

    Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan. (AAP Image/Jane Dempster)

    Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan (AAP Image/Jane Dempster)

    Fair play there were some tough calls, the Jayden Brailey charge down was rough. Andrew Fifita did not knock the ball on when it went through his legs, but those have been called a knock on all year.

    Confusingly James Maloney’s sin bin enraged Flanagan. Maloney is a notoriously negative defender who got caught out making a bad decision on a Cowboys try scoring opportunity. Which is just about word-for-word verbatim on the ruling for a professional foul. Flanno’s view – no professional foul.

    Late in the game Matt Prior was making a tackle and had his hands on the ball, replays show a motion forcing the ball out. Could be a strip, could be poor ball security. These have been a 50-50 all year and most likely always would be. North Queensland level the scores. Flanno’s view – scrum Cronulla.

    Gallen in the dying moments forces his hand and reaches out for the line instead of focusing on a quick and clean play the ball for his halves to ice the game, it’s messy and the ball pops out. Flanno’s view – penalty Cronulla.

    Extra time Fifita crabbed across searching to recreate his watershed Origin moment, his loose carry and North Queensland defensive pressure resulted in a knock on. Flanno’s view – no comment.

    Poor Cronulla defensive decisions, poor Cronulla attacking decisions, and two unlucky calls. Not really robbed is it?

    Rather than deliver a venomous manifesto to the refs why not set an example to your team and club, call your players out for their mistakes, push them to be better next year, push for an adapted style to an ever changing game?

    No praise for Jason Taumalolo, Michael Morgan, the Cowboys, and Paul Green for a hard-fought and deserved win. Just a bucket of hate for the officials.

    The stakes may be high at this time of the year, but it seems among the exiting teams strength of character is not.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • September 13th 2017 @ 3:52am
      Craig said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:52am | ! Report

      It was flat out embarrassing watching Flannno and Barrett whinge likes absolute sooks. They are an employee of the game, yet blokes like these guys, and Ricky Stuart, continually tear the game down.

      Conversely, look at how Ken Hinkley, the Port Adelaide coach responded. His team lost in extra time (almost unheard of in AFL). He didn’t question the decision, he didn’t cry like a baby. He applauded his team, the opposition and showed why he’s respected by pretty much everyone.

      I’m glad they got fined, but its not enough. The continual moaning and criticism of referees needs to stop. The NRL commentators need to realise they are seriously damaging the game by the ongoing moaning and carrying on. The coaches need to take responsibility for their teams losses.

      “Oh but he’s just being honest”. A simple “well I didn’t think it was a try but we’ll review on the tape during the week and have a chat to the NRL about it after that”. Be open and honest in your assessments of your own players. Slamming the referees is weak, unprofessional and damaging to the game you are supposed to be working for.

      The damage these blokes do with their weekly rants about the coaches is immeasurable. We’re now talking about the “Game being in a crisis” and constantly discussing refereeing issues. Why? Because these blokes carry on like pork chops in public.

      Its downright embarrassing. Both should have been suspended as well as fined more heavily in my opinion.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 3:05pm
        Pomoz said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report


        • September 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm
          chivasdude said | September 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report


    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2017 @ 6:09am
      The Barry said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:09am | ! Report

      No acknowledgement from Flanagan that one of Cronulla’s tries was off the back of a 50/50 decision and another off the back of a plain wrong call.

      He should be pretty embarrassed about his behaviour. If an amateur under sevens coach carried on that way it would be completely unacceptable.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 7:01am
        Greg said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

        I’d say every point the Cowboys scored minus their field goal came from 50/50 or wrong calls. Maloney made contact with a player 10m away from the ball, that is the first time this season a player has been binned in that situation. The Cowboys scored in the corner due to extra numbers while he was off the field. There was no evidence Taumololo scored a try. As for Matt Prior, he simply isn’t that dumb to strip the ball in front of the posts when you’re 2 points up with less than 10 mins to go.

        The sharks should have won the game from a penalty kick when Taumololo slapped the ball from Luke Lewis when he already had a defender around his legs. That was a deliberate play at the ball in a two man tackle, penalty and game over.

        Yes the Sharks players all made one or two errors each either with the ball or on defence, as did the Cowboys players, however the refs made at least 10 errors between them and had terrible games.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 13th 2017 @ 7:24am
          Matthew Pearce said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

          There’s no evidence Taumololo didn’t score. Badger was right in front of where it happened, he probably saw it himself. You can’t excuse tries scored just because they were scored with a bloke in the bin. Cronulla got a Raiders player binned in similar circumstances to this as well earlier in the year and conceded 6 points for the ten minutes.

          Luke Lewis did the same strip himself in the first half, it was called as a Cowboys error. The correct call could’ve lead to a penalty goal for the Cows, right?

          The reffing was fine, I’ve seen far bigger blowouts go in Cronulla’s favour plenty of times this year. A team that can’t beat a 50% regular team has no place complaining about anything other than themselves.

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am
          Con Scortis said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

          Hi Greg, just on your comment “Maloney made contact with a player 10m away from the ball, that is the first time this season a player has been binned in that situation”.

          My view is that the sin binning wasn’t solely due to the specific infringement, but was also the culmination of 3 consecutive penalties given by the Sharks in that period. After the third penalty, the ref called Gallen out and told him that if they gave another deliberate penalty he would use the sin bin.

          That’s why he sent Maloney off – it wasn’t solely due to that one infringement. I have no problem with that but would like to see refs do more of it as deliberate penalties in the red zone is annoying.

          • Roar Rookie

            September 13th 2017 @ 7:51am
            Matthew Pearce said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

            They should do it more often.

            It also has happened before, Munster on Saturday and Papalii in the Sharks v Raiders game were in similar positions and got binned. I can also count a couple of instances where Maloney hasn’t been sinbinned for something that an opposition player does. Kahu and Keary come to mind.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 8:24am
            Greg said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

            I think you’re thinking of a different point in the game Con. The Sharks actually had the ball right before Maloney was binned, in fact Maloney had just made a break upfield but was called back when it was found Holmes had interfered with the marker, so it was definitely not due to repeated infringements.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 2:17pm
            Big Daddy said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

            Good point about Gallen.
            He probably went back in line and said nothing to the team and then blows up like a stuck pig.
            Interesting that at half time police escorted refs off.
            Was their something in crowd that happened.
            Sharks Hans were being pretty feral.

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2017 @ 7:58am
          The Barry said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

          Let me guess Greg, Sharks fan?

          You’re doing exactly the same thing as Flanagan, cherry picking the decisions that you THINK went against the Sharks.

          Meanwhile not recognising a single call that went against them.

          No way Prior would steal the ball. That cost us two points!

          Meanwhile happy to take the six points that came from the Leutele call, which was a far worse call than Prior’s.

          Happy to have a conversation about the standard of refereeing – but “we wuz robbed, refs cost us the game” is not the place to start.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 8:31am
            Greg said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

            I’m happy to admit the first try was 50/50 and we got a good call, which was then squared up by the Taumololo try. Neither try would have been over ruled by the bunker no matter which way the on field ref called it. What I’m not happy with is the ‘game management’ by the refs, there is no way the Cowboys were more than twice as disciplined as the Sharks as the penalty count suggested. It’s finals time, all eyes are watching and the refs are more interested in keeping the game tight and ensuring a close and exciting finish than actually officiating the rules.

            Don’t take my word for it though, here’s what Paul Kent and Andrew Webster had to say:

            “They’re too timid and too gun-shy to enforce the actual rules of the game … this is the insanity of it. If that’s not madness then I don’t know what is,” he said.

            Kent agreed, claiming referees and officials simply needed to harden up.

            “You’re 100 per cent right, get rid of this game management system. It’s absolute crap,” he said.

            “Become officials again and just show some balls.”

            • Roar Guru

              September 13th 2017 @ 9:20am
              The Barry said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

              I think there’s plenty wrong with how the game is refereed at the moment so please don’t think I’m defending the refs all the way. But I think it’s more systemic than personnel related.

              I just don’t buy into this “refs cost us the game and here’s seven reasons why” mentality when the decisions that go the other way are completely ignored.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 1:32pm
              Sam Knox said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              Sorry Greg, but it doesn’t help your case about the Cowboys being “twice as disciplined” when 6 of your 11 penalties conceded are in within 10m. And a very simple way for Maloney to not get binned….. dont try to tackle someone without the ball, who also never had the ball on the play. I can remember Gallen scoring one very very similar to the Taumalolo one this year too, maybe the 4 of them on him should have been able to stop him from getting to the in goal.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 1:32pm
              Sam Knox said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              Sorry Greg, but it doesn’t help your case about the Cowboys being “twice as disciplined” when 6 of your 11 penalties conceded are in within 10m. And a very simple way for Maloney to not get binned….. dont try to tackle someone without the ball, who also never had the ball on the play. I can remember Gallen scoring one very very similar to the Taumalolo one this year too, maybe the 4 of them on him should have been able to stop him from getting to the in goal.

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2017 @ 8:00am
          The Barry said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

          And I don’t think you’re trying hard enough on the field goal…surely the refs had the Sharks defence standing back 12 metres or there was a forward pass in the lead-up or something…?

        • September 13th 2017 @ 12:03pm
          dAYER said | September 13th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          cry me a river

      • Roar Rookie

        September 13th 2017 @ 7:03am
        Matthew Pearce said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

        The penalty goal was another one of the 50-50 penalty calls as well, really all of Cronulla’s points were off the back of advantageous calls.

        At least he didn’t have “referee Smith” to deflect to this time.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 8:33am
          Greg said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

          I can guarantee that if it was Cameron’s Smiths hand on the ball and not Matt Prior’s it wouldn’t have been a penalty, like wise if it was Cameron Smith who lost the ball and not Paul Gallen it would have been a penalty. All we want as fans is consistency no matter what the score is, the time of the game, or the players involved.

          • Roar Rookie

            September 13th 2017 @ 8:54am
            Matthew Pearce said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            You can’t guarantee that, Melbourne are the most penalised team in the comp after all. I understand your woes, I get frustrated with calls that go against my team numerous times each game, but ultimately it’s in the players’ hands to decide whether or not it has any effect on the game.

            I would argue that particular discipline was consistent, numerous instances went both ways for both teams throughout the match.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 9:16am
            Martin Millard said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            “All we want as fans is consistency”.

            Your not going to get it, ever, its impossible. The games too fast, there are too many variables, you will always have personal interpretation.

            Just go and check out any close high stakes boxing match last 50 years. There are Gregs everywhere whinging that Pacquiao beat Horne or that De La Hoya beat Mayweather.

            When your season rests on refereeing decisions how does it become the refs fault Greg?

            Yes it was close and contentious but if your team was truly the better team they would not have been in that position. Their fault that they were.

            Turn your porch light back on

            • Roar Guru

              September 13th 2017 @ 9:46am
              BigJ said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              Martin if you knew anything about the Horn v Pacquiao fight, you would know that pretty much everybody not Australian thought that Manny Pacquiao won that fight so about 90% of watchers

              • September 13th 2017 @ 10:00am
                Martin Millard said | September 13th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                The independent review by 5 impartial judges with no sound on disagrees with that supposed 90%.

                That’s the whole point though isn’t it. If Pacquiao was so much better he would have knocked Horne out.

                If Cronulla were so much better they would have won by 20.

                Leave it in the hands of the refs at your peril because everything is open to interpretation, so if and when you lose it would be easy to find “reasons” that you were robbed

              • Roar Guru

                September 13th 2017 @ 12:07pm
                BigJ said | September 13th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                Oh im well aware of the WBO independent review of the decision between Horn v Pacquiao. Im agreeing with you on both points. If Pacquiao knocked out Horn there would be no argument. Same with the Sharks if they won by 20.I was just saying that most of the world media and boxing so called experts outside of Australia disagree with the decision

          • September 13th 2017 @ 2:39pm
            Beastie said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

            I can guarantee you if Smith was in the same position as Gallen was he doesn’t try to be a hero and score a try. He would take a quick hit up and get a quick play the ball so they could go for a field goal. The Sharks lost that game through stupid plays and poor game management, not through ref’s errors.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 8:48pm
              Bigj said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report


    • September 13th 2017 @ 6:11am
      Matt said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      Isn’t it time this site stopped giving air time to articles about the negatives of last week and start hearing about this week’s games?

      Panthers forced Manly into mistake after mistake. That’s usually a fair indicator of the better team apart from the scoreboard itself, (and No Try’s-valiant attempts as they may be, don’t count for anything, except missed opportunities).

      The Cowboys game was a bit more of a doer affair, but they hung in there, slotted one in extra time and got the win. So give em some bloody credit.

      When’s the Manly Shark whinge gonna end? Christmas is getting closer by the day.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 6:46am
      David C. said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:46am | ! Report

      Contrast Flanagan’s shameful performance with that of Port Adelaide’s coach, Ken Hinkley, whose team was beaten after the siren by 2 points due to what many considered to be a dubious free kick paid to West Coast’s Luke Shuey. Hinkley refused point-blank to blame the umpires and said that his team’s loss was mainly due to not kicking straighter during the game. He praised the efforts of his players, congratulated West Coast on its victory and was nothing short of being very professional whilst being hugely disappointed at having lost such a close game. Hinkley was all class. Flanagan was petulant and childish, totally unprofessional, reflecting very badly upon the game itself.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 6:47am
      JM said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Agree 100% with this:

      “No praise for Jason Taumalolo, Michael Morgan, the Cowboys, and Paul Green for a hard-fought and deserved win. Just a bucket of hate for the officials.

      The stakes may be high at this time of the year, but it seems among the exiting teams strength of character is not.”

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2017 @ 8:23am
      BigJ said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Maybe if the Sharks played better than would of won. They just proved that 2016 was a fluke never to be repeated.

      They cant just whinge because they lost, the took the Cowboys too lightly and through Gallen Hero to Zero move pretty much cost them thier season.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 2:43pm
        Beastie said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

        You don’t “fluke” a premiership. You can “fluke” getting into the finals, but not a premiership. Don’t tarnish the greatest award our game has to offer for a team by suggesting that. The Sharks were clearly one of the 2 best teams last year, and on the day, did everything that was needed to win the Final. They are clearly not one of the best 2 teams this year, and their loss on the weekend shows this.

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