NRL referees boss Tony Archer has backed the two controversial bunker calls that were labeled “incompetent and embarrassing” by St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor in the wake of his sie’s 21-14 loss to Newcastle on Saturday.
McGregor’s anger centred on the decision late in the 31st minute to disallow a try to Tim Lafai despite replays showing Jason Nightingale appeared to deflect the ball backwards in the lead-up.
Bunker official Luke Patten determined that there was insufficient evidence to overturn on-field referee Gavin Badger’s call of knock-on.
The Dragons were denied just minutes later with Nene Macdonald’s 95-metre effort called back after Patten deemed Tyson Frizell to have taken out Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson off the ball.
“Embarrassing and incompetent,” McGregor said when asked about the bunker calls post-match.
“I think anyone that knows rugby league would agree because the ball went back on the Nightingale one.
“That should have been overruled and it wasn’t and Hodkinson took a dive. He wouldn’t have got to Nene anyway.”
However, after reviewing both decisions on Sunday, Archer backed the call to disallow both tries.
"After reviewing all the available angles, you can see that the ball comes off the left forearm of Jason Nightingale and then contacts the right hand of [Knights centre] Shaun Kenny-Dowall," Archer said.
"This constitutes a knock on. As a result the decision of no try is the correct call."
"[Also] we can see following a kick from the Knights that Trent Hodkinson is held back by Tyson Frizell. This prevents his ability to participate in play.
“Subsequently the live decision of try was overturned because of this infringement. This is the correct decision."
Tariq Sims crossed on the stroke of halftime to get back within two but the Dragons couldn’t get across again in the second, with Jacob Saifiti’s 71st minute try sealing just the second win of the season for the Knights.
McGregor stopped short of saying the calls cost his side the game.
“We take responsibility for how we play, not the officials,” McGregor said.
“63 per cent [completion rate] is not up to NRL standard. We didn’t take take the chances we created and we didn’t get the balance of playing tough and taking smart risks.
"It's too far between our best and our worst. Today was a lot closer close to our worst. There's disappointed people and I'm one of them."