It’s never easy to face up to the end of your season in the NRL and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has come out swinging in his post-match press conference in the wake of his side’s 15-14 extra time loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.
Flanagan is a combative figure at the best of times but he claimed that the referees were disgraceful during his side’s loss, before pointing out several instances where he felt his side were hard done by or copped the wrong decision.
Flanagan: The system needs fixing
The long-time Sharks coach produced a written list of what he said were 10 decisions that were wrongly awarded against his side as he continued to vent over the desperate need for the game to fix on-field officiating errors.
He backed up Manly coach Trent Barrett, who also blew up post game after his side went down 22-10 to the Penrith Panthers last night. And then Flanagan suggested the pair who took control of today’s game, Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger, would not be in charge come Grand Final day but that the men with the whistles could have a big impact on the showpiece fixture.
The Premiership winning mentor was also stunned that the referee awarded a try to Jason Taumalolo, which was confirmed by the NRL bunker due to insufficient evidence to allow it to be overruled. Several replays failed to confirm the ball was grounded by the New Zealand international, but as it was sent to the bunker as a try, it couldn’t be overturned.
For several weeks now there have been calls for the current system of review to be urgently overhauled by the powers that be. In its current guise, the system requires a referee to make a decision on whether or not a try should be awarded, with the bunker then asked to adjudicate whether there is sufficient evidence to overturn the referee’s initial decision.
The referees impacted on the game
Flanagan was left in no doubt that the referees had impacted on the result and that the system was in desperate need of fixing. He did suggest that both his team and the Cowboys were brave and had played a tough game of football.
The Cowboys had limped to the first week of the finals with a crippling injury toll and were expected by most pundits to struggle to overcome the Sharks in Sydney. The Sharks had plenty of the early running and a good lead, but the North Queensland side were able to peg them back and lock up the contest before edging in front courtesy of a field goal from Michael Morgan during extra time, which would prove to be the difference on the day.
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