MELBOURNE coach Craig Bellamy has defended his players against hints from rival Mick Potter that they are better at influencing match officials than their Wests Tigers counterparts.
Potter chose his words very carefully after the 26-12 Monday Night Football defeat at AAMI Park, referring to “people influencing people” in matches. In a subsequent Triple M radio interview, he made reference to “players saying things” but would go no further.
“I don’t wear the rabbit ears,” Bellamy said in reference to Sportsears, which allow spectators to hear conversations on the field, “because I’ve got better things to do.
“But they have some players in their side like Robbie Farah whose communications skills with referees are quite strong so I don’t really know about that.”
Potter’s comments were the most intriguing aspect of the post-match discussions after Melbourne twice came from behind to register a club record 13th consecutive win. Wests Tigers lost the penalty count 14-7.
“Just the influence of the game the influence people have over other people to cause results,” he said when asked to clarify what adversity he thought his men had overcome.
“We need to overcome that and we couldn’t. There was a lot of talk going on out there and a lot of influence from senior guys and I just don’t think we get the rub of the green some times.
“Different people have different influences.”
Asked if he was referring to senior Melbourne players talking to match officials, Potter said: “I’m not saying anything. You can draw a long bow or whatever. What I’m saying is there’s influence and it does affect what happens out there.
“We need to be better than that and we need to able to withstand that sort of pressure.”
For Bellamy’s part, he though the joint venture got away with slowing down the ruck too much. “I think they got some latitude there,” he said.
“It was the slowest game we’ve played in.”
Captain Cameron Smith said: “I just spoke to our front rowers in there. They said they felt like there were people all over them all the time and they couldn’t get up and play the ball.
“There were hands on the ball, which we were told they were going to crack down on. It was probably reflected in the stat that I didn’t have one dummy half run tonight.
“I thought we could have got one or two more penalties around the ruck.”
Potter described the decision of the referees and video referees to disallow an Eddy Pettybourne try in the 46th minute as “just the wrong call.”
Robbie Farah added: “I don’t think it’s a controversy. You’re not allowed to come in and have an influence on the defending team by touching them.
“I couldn’t see where (Ben Murdoch Masila) laid his hand on a Melbourne player. I thought he was pushing Eddy (Pettybourne).”
And Bellamy said his decision to give his players a few days off last week had backfired because “they didn’t get their minds back on the job”.
Potter said the experiment of playing Braith Anasta in the halves was likely to continue.
Filed for: THE AGE