By STEVE MASCORD
DEPARTING Parramatta caretaker coach Brad Arthur last night said the current rule interpretation on obstructions was wrong and warned the issue would cause major dramas during the finals.
Gold Coast was awarded the second contentious try of the weekend under the rule during a 24-16 win at Skilled Park, which also featured a disallowed touchdown which its would-be scorer, FuiFui MoiMoi, claimed was “100 per cent a try”.
The headline grabbing decision to give Canterbury’s Johnathan Wright a try against Wests Tigers after an apparent obstruction on Friday was seized upon when Titan Ashley Harrison ran behind team-mate Luke O’Dwyer in the 59th minute before putting over centre Steve Michaels.
“It’s the same try as Friday night!” Gold Coast captain Scott Prince shouted while video referee Rod Lawrence mulled over a decision. “I didn’t see Friday night,” on-field official Steve Lyons deadpanned, “who played?”
The touchdown was given and Arthur – unwanted by incoming Ricky Stuart next year – said little about the issue at the post-match media conference. But when asked later by the Herald if more teams would run plays that were once illegal as a result of the rulings, he said: “We will be.
“Look, I don’t know if anyone will go down that path but you would hate to see a semi-final decide by that. In a game like today, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make a difference for us.
“But it could make a difference to a semi-final team or a game in the semi-finals.
“Are you allowed to run behind your player and score a try? We definitely need to get an answer of what the ruling is. It’s not just today’s game, it’s every club, right across the game. There needs to be a rule we can all work off.”
Titans coach John Cartwright disagreed with his captain’s on-field statement that the Michaels and Wright tries were “the same”. “I think that one today was totally different … the one the other night was no try,” Cartwright said. “Commonsense says it was no try. I don’t think I’m being biased in saying today was a try.”
Prince said: “I had a view on what an obstruction rule was. The other night with the Doggies-Tigers game, it certainly changed my (opinion).
“It’s more confusing for the punters at home who watch. Now it’s even confusing for the players and coaches.”
There was actually confusion over two rules at the post-match media conference yesterday. Nathan Hindmarsh was unsure of the implications of new guidelines restricting comment about the performances of match officials.
“Does anyone know what the rule is these days …. can I say that?” said Hindmarsh, when asked about the obstruction furore. “I’m allowed to say that? I’m not going to get fined or anything?”
Just a few seconds after Parramatta’s Cheyse Blair went up for a kick that should have brought him a try – until he failed to take the ball cleanly – fullback William Zillman charged only a lovely pass from Matt Srama to score.
Titan Matt White dived on another ball lolling dangerously close to his own tryline in the 26th minute and soon afterwards, prop Nate Myles charged through a yawning gap for his side’s second touchdown. The scoreboard clicked over to 14-0 with a penalty goal and that looked like being the halftime ledger until quick hands put Luke Burt over in the final seconds of the period.
The Eels narrowed the margin to four with Chris Sandow’s try off a MoiMoi pass in the 54th minute – before Michaels touchdown dead-batted their revival. “We definitely had the momentum,” Arthur reflected, “but we made the error to hand them the ball.”
The Titans extended their lead via Kevin Gordon (64 mins) before MoiMoi was ruled to have lost the ball over the line. “The way I was carrying it, it looked like it came out,” MoimOi told the Herald. “But I got it down, it was 100 per cent a try.”
When the next Eels try came – after great lead-up from Ken Sio to put Taniela Lasalo over – it was far too late.
There was a bizarre start to the second half with the Titans fielding only 12 men – without Ashley Harrison – and defying the referees’ instructions to kick off. “I think Harro was having a dump,” said Prince. “Nah, he had a toe issue. He was getting his toe strapped.”
Hindmarsh repeated earlier comments about not caring if his career finished with a wooden spoon. Sandow was reported for a high tackle on Zillman.
GOLD COAST 24 (W Zillman N Myles S Michaels K Gordon tries S Prince 4 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 16 (L Burt C Sandow T Lasalo tries L Burt 2 goals) at Skilled Park. Referees: G Sutton/S Lyons. Crowd: 14,159.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Final team lists:
TITANS: William Zillman; Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead; Aiden Sezer, Scott Prince; Ashley Harrison, Ben Ridge, Greg Bird, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles. Res: Matt White, Mark Minichiello, Luke O’Dwyer, Beau Falloon.
PARRAMATTA: Jake Mullaney; Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio; Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow; Reni Maitua, Justin Horo, Nathan Hindmarsh (c), FuiFui MoiMoi, Nathan Smith, Tim Mannah. Res: Joseph Paulo, Taulima Tautai, Justin Poore, Taniela Lasalo.
Referees: Gerard Sutton/Steve Lyons.
Toyota Cup: Gold Coast 34 Parramatta 32