NRL round nine: GOLD COAST 15 ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 14 at Skilled Park

By STEVE MASCORD

GOLD Coast coach John Cartwright, self-described as “ropable”, demanded a show of hands from reporters during a tumultuous aftermath to the one-point victory over St George Illawarra.

After a relatively positive opening to the season, NRL match officials find themselves firmly in the crosshairs this week with the Titans and Dragons each aggrieved over at least five incidents at Skilled Park.

At the scene of Ricky Stuart’s Rant For The Ages a month ago, Cartwright said he was so furious over the decision to deny fullback William Zillman a 59th minute try – because Greg Bird stopped in the defensive line – that he had to leave the coach’s box.

“Put your hand up here if you thought Zillman’s was a try,” Cartwright, hitting the table as he spoke, asked reporters in the same room that Parramatta’s Stuart earned a $10,000 fine.

“I’ve got no problem with referees making errors – they’re always going to do it. But when they sit there and watch it 10 times and still get it wrong – and you can see my blood boiling now – that’s when I get cranky.

“They’re supposed to be ex-footballers and they still get it wrong. Get it right.

“The try was scored because Tyson Frizell made a bad decision. Anyone who has watched a game of football will know that. ”

Cartwight said referees admitted a try to Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson last week should not have been awarded against the Titans.. “We’re the Gold Coast, we’re a low profile team. If it was South Sydney or someone else, it would be front page of the paper.

“It cost us the game, we got beaten by a point. We could have lost today’s game – and ‘the Titans are struggling again’. Bullshit!

“I was that ropeable, I couldn’t talk. I had to get out of that box I was that ropeable – and I still am now, as you can probably tell.

“It would have been a tragedy if we lost that game, it just wouldn’t have been right.”

After a match decided by an Aiden Sezer 67th minute field goal, Cartwright’s rival Steve Price was no less upset with officiating. Cartwright’s chief complaint was the Zillman decision and an earlier Sam Irwin try which was chalked off by eyes in the sky, Luke Phillips and Neil Warton.

Price’s complaints after a 12-6 penalty count against his side were:

· Five-eighth Nathan Fien penalised for diving into the ruck from marker in the 31st minute;

· Titan Dave Taylor taking an intercept from a seemingly off-side position while defending his own line, midway through the second half (“If you want to penalise someone for being offside on their tryline,” said Cartwright, “you’ll get one every single set of six”);

· Titans defenders harassing five-eighth Jamie Soward from an off-side position when he attempted to tie the scores with a field goal in the 80TH minute.

“It’s a tough, tough loss to take, that one,” said Price, who believed a refereeing error cost his side the Monday Night Football game against Manly last week

“We had them on the tryline, a pass goes 15 metres backwards and Dave Taylor intercepts.

“Nathan Fien … Johnathan Thurston does one of them on Friday night.

“We have a chance to draw the game there and I’ll leave it up to you guys to see if they were offside or not.

“You’ve got to ref at the end of the game the same as you do at the start. It’s something I’ll have to take up with Daniel (Anderson) and Russell Smith … they were clearly offside.”

With impressive debutant Adam Quinlan in for new recruit Josh Dugan, who was given another week to get some condition, the Dragons got off to a good start when the youngster put Daniel Vidot over.

Fullback Zillman backed up David Mead to score in the 17th minute and Jason Nightingale successfully chased Nathan Fien’s kick on the half-hour, with the scores 8-8 for the break.

Soward edged the joint venture ahead by kicking for Nightingale to dot down in the 51st minute, and after disallowed tries to Irwin (double movement) and Zillman (obstruction), the home side lifted visibly with Zillman rewarded with another try which Sezer converted to tie the scores.

Dragon Dan Hunt is on report for a 69th minute challenge on Greg Bird

GOLD COAST 15 (W Zillman 2 tries A Sezer 3 goals field goal) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 14 (J Nightingale 2 D Vidot tries J Soward goal) at Skilled Park. Referees: S Hayne/G Sutton. Crowd: 12,117.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

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