The Roar
The Roar


ANALYSIS: 'A try every day of the week' - Carr blows gasket over bunker's strip call as desperate Eels run down Dragons

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6th August, 2023

Parramatta’s flickering finals hopes were fading at CommBank Stadium on Sunday but they stormed home to douse the Dragons’ fire with a 26-20 win riding on the back of a controversial no-try call.

Not even wrecking ball Mikaele Ravalawa becoming the first Dragon since 2009 to score four tries in a match was enough to steal the win from the Eels.

With Parramatta recently dropping from seventh to 11th on the NRL ladder, they entered Sunday’s match with their September footy hopes on the line. Boosted by the return of playmaker Dylan Brown following his seven-match suspension enforced by the NRL for an off-field incident, many expected an easy win for Parramatta at home.

With the Red V sitting in 16th spot following their disappointing season, along with officially being unable to make the finals, there didn’t seem to be much to play for. But they played like their season was on the line, making the Eels fight until the last minute to remain in the hunt for September footy.

“We kept our composure,” said Eels coach Brad Arthur. “Plenty of times in the past we would have thrown that away.”

Dragons coach fumes over ‘no try’

The Dragons could have gone 16 up in the 55th minute when Talatau Amone touched down but the bunker ruled Jacob Liddle knocked on due to a loose carry when he had the ball stripped from his possession by fullback Clint Gutherson’s last-ditch tackle.

When Gutherson knocked the ball from Liddle’s hand on his way to scoring a try, it had a huge impact on the result.


Mikaele Ravalawa. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

“This was the moment of the match,” said Fox League’s Braith Anasta. “They would have gone to a 16-point lead … Gutherson came up with a great stop. A lot of Dragons fans were thinking that may have been a one-on-one strip but it was a loose carry and they couldn’t have given that a try.”

But not everyone agreed with Anasta’s take on the incident, and the controversial call left Dragons interim coach Ryan Car seething.

“I don’t want to blow up about it … I’m sick of talking about it,” said a frustrated Carr when asked his thought on the official’s decision to deny the try.

“I don’t know the answer. Maybe they (the bunker officials) should come down and answer the question for you (in the media conference) so everyone in the world can understand why that wasn’t a try.

“If you Google a strip, it’s hands on the ball and he strips it out and it’s play on … it’s a try every day of the week.”

Playing for a finals spot vs playing for pride


It was a tough start for the Dragons, with Francis Molo being sent for an HIA in just the first minute and failing to return. It was a different story for the Eels who gained early control, with winger Arthur Miller-Stephen crossing the line on debut and when second-rower Bryce Cartwright got his name on the team sheet moments later, the home side was up 10-0 and looked on their way to an easy victory.

But as they have done so many times this season, they invited their opposition back into the match with silly errors, and the Dragons took full advantage.  

Ravalawa barged his way over the corner for St George Illawarra’s first four-pointer and levelled the scores when he crossed for his second shortly after. He brought up his hat-trick just before the half-time break, with the Red V heading to the sheds with a 16-10 lead.

The Dragons seemed to be on a mission to spoil the Eels’ finals chances and show everyone they are a much better team than their ladder position suggests.

The second half started out how the first had ended, with three tries seemingly not enough for Ravalawa who grabbed his first-ever four-try haul when he crossed out wide and the Dragons looked set to cause an upset.


It was just the momentum shift the home side needed, and with their finals hopes hanging by a thread, the Eels hit back with two quick tries to Sean Russell and Junior Paulo, with the scores locked up at 20-20 with 15 minutes left.

It was a case of right place right time for Cartwright, with a crosskick from Brown ending up in his hands for an easy stroll over for his second try to give the hosts a six-point buffer.

The Dragons threw everything they had at the Eels during the dying minutes, but they were beaten by the clock and the desperate Eels’ defence.

With a tough run home including the Broncos, Roosters, and Panthers, Sunday’s two points were a must for Parramatta in their fight to stay in the hunt.

Sin bin, send-off, or play on confuses the masses


A contentious point that has frustrated many rugby league fans this season has been the inconsistency surrounding sanctioning a player for making contact with the head during a tackle.

This round alone has seen Roosters forward Nathan Brown and Titans forward Moe Fotuaika both sent off for high shots while Panthers playmaker Jarome Laui escaped on-field punishment for his contact to the head of the Storm’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona on Friday night.

Zac Lomax is the latest player to enter the discussion, being allowed to remain on the field following his dangerous tackle on Parramatta’s Andrew Davey on Sunday that saw him taken off for an HIA.

“Whether you want to call it a back slam or a head slam, Davey’s head smashes the ground,” said Fox League analyst Greg Alexander. “We play a tough game, it’s a physical game … every now and then we find ourselves in this situation where we are again discussing if a payer should have been sin-binned or sent off for contact to the head.

“That was a head slam that caused some damage to Davey. I’m surprised that he (Lomax) wasn’t sin-binned for it.”