Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has branded the policing of the obstruction rule a “minefield’’ and called for the NRL to address it before it costs a team a semi-final.
The Raiders were on the wrong end of two contentious calls during Newcastle’s 28-12 win at Hunter Stadium on Sunday night.
In the first half, referees Gerard Sutton and Brett Suttor disallowed a try to Raiders centre Blake Ferguson after they ruled Josh McCrone had run behind decoy runner Brett White.
Sutton and Suttor penalised the Raiders without sending the call up to the video referees.
Also in the first half, video referess Shayne Hayne and Luke Patten awarded Newcastle winger Anthony Quinn a four-pointer, despite a Knights player making contact with McCrone in the defensive line.
Referees boss Daniel Anderson told all clubs before the season if an attacking player initiated contact with a defender, it would result in an automatic penalty.
But there is the belief defenders are using the interpretation to their advantage by deliberately making contact with an attacking player.
Coaches are becoming increasingly frustrated that defenders are being rewarded for poor reads.
Bennett is the most decorated and respected coach in the game and when he talks, officials generally listen.
“They’ve got a minefield for themselves and they’re going to have to fix it up,’’ Bennett said bluntly after the match.
“[Before this year’s interpretations] it was much simpler and the game has got to that complex stage.
“It’s going to create more controversy as the season goes on, and the games become more vital.’’
Told of Bennett’s comments, Canberra coach David Furner grinned and said simply “I would agree’’.
A case could be made in both instances last night for a try to be allowed or disallowed.
Therein lies the problem, with clubs desperate for that ‘grey area’ to be addressed.
It is particularly hurting the Raiders, whose attack is centred heavily around decoy runners and second-man plays.
The obstruction rule came under heavy fire when Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk was disallowed a try in last week’s win over the Bulldogs.
Officials deemed a Bulldog defender had been unfairly taken out by a Storm decoy runner, but most agree he was unlikely have played in part in attempting to stop the try.
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