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NRL defend 'devastated' touch judge, hit out at online trolls

The NRL has conceded that a touch judge’s crucial decision late in the Canberra Raiders’ dramatic win over the Melbourne Storm was wrong, yet defended the official after a series of online attacks.

After the Raiders snatched the lead following captain Jarrod Croker’s 78th minute conversion, the Storm had a last glimmer of hope dashed, with Suliasi Vunivalu ruled to have gone into touch.

Yet replays showed Vunivalu had remained in the field of play, sparking a strong backlash from commentators and fans.

While the NRL’s Head of Football Graham Annesley says the official will “pay the price” for the call, he moved to show support for the “devastated” touch judge.

Annesley told reporters that online attacks of referees are “totally unacceptable” and not only have an impact on the person targetted, but also affect the sport’s chances of convincing more people to become referees.

“When people get attacked, what part of that would encourage anyone to take it up?” Annesley said.

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