DRAGONS: A furious St George Illawarra coach Steve Price has demanded answers from the NRL’s head of football Todd Greenberg after Monday night’s gut-wrenching 28-24 loss to Melbourne at AAMI Park.
Leading 24-22 when the siren sounded, the Storm snatched an unlikely victory when winger Young Tonumaipea dived over in the corner to score a try.
The Dragons are adamant the try should never have been allowed and insist the siren sounded before Melbourne played the ball in the lead up to the try, meaning the game should have come to an immediate conclusion.
‘‘We’re waiting for a response from the NRL,’’ Price said at Sydney airport on Tuesday.
‘‘We put a case forward to them this morning and are now waiting on clarification on the timekeeper and the siren and what the rule states as to when the ball is played and the whistle blown.
‘‘I’ve watched it a number of times after the game and my coaching staff and my players feel the ball hadn’t been played when the siren had blown. It’s a hard one to take.’’
Tonumaipea’s try denied the Dragons a first victory in Melbourne in 15 years and to compound the issue further for Price, his side only had 12 men on the field for the final 25 seconds because Joel Thompson had to be withdrawn under the new concussion rulings with all 10 interchanges used up.
The NRL on Tuesday confirmed referees Matt Cecchin and Gavin Atkins had erred in not blowing full time before the last play was triggered.
“The siren and the play the ball were all but simultaneous,” referees’ boss Tony Archer said in a statement.
“But, technically, the siren sounded a split second before the Melbourne player ‘heeled’ the ball. So, in that sense, the referee’s call was wrong and the final play should not have proceeded.
“We were only able to work this out by going through the final moments of the game frame by frame so you can appreciate how difficult it would be for a referee to make a call with that degree of accuracy out in the middle.”
The Dragons also faced a wall of silence from the match officials after the game when they tried to get an explanation from senior whistleblower Matt Cecchin.
‘‘There was no comment after the game from the ref,’’ Price said.
‘‘It’s hard to cop at the moment, it was a great game of football and both teams threw everything at each other. We’re hurting.’’