Newcastle captain Kalin Ponga suggested he did not understand the rule that would allow NRL Bunker to gift Brisbane a bizarre attempt on Thursday night.
The two teams were engaged in a thrilling arm wrestling at Hunter Stadium, with the scoreboard sitting 14-12 in favor of the Broncos until the 67th minute.
That’s when a controversial incident sank the heart of Newcastle and opened the floodgates for Brisbane and could win 36-12.
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The questionable incident came in Brisbane’s defensive half. Te Maire Martin catches and then passes the ball as he chases after teammate Jordan Ricky, who is clearly blocking night defender Adam Clooney.
The commentators assumed that the game would be called again, although the on-field referee allowed it to continue and Selwyn Kobo ran off the try line.
Bunker was then able to test the lead-up, and see replays of the Clown Obstruction, but somehow decided to give it the green light and rewarded the effort.
Andrew Johns called the decision “ridiculous” while fellow legend Brad Fitler was equally surprised.
“A lot of the time when they catch inwards, it doesn’t stop,” Fitler said in Nine’s coverage.
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“Now you can clearly see that Clooney has Ricky in front of him, so he can’t see what Te Maire Martin is doing with the ball.
“That’s a bad call. A bad call.”
Although it was only an attempt, it stopped the Knights at any speed and allowed Brisbane to go for a four-try run to finish the game.
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Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien was in a good mood at the post-match press conference.
“I’ll make it really clear – there’s no reason for it to happen to us … the score line at the end is unforgivable,” the coach said.
“I realize there’s been some wind from the sail. I think if it’s on the 10-meter line or the tri-line – in my opinion, the rules should be the same all the way down the field.
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“It didn’t help. At 14-12 I thought ‘we’re back here’, but no. I don’t understand, I don’t understand.
“If it had happened there (near the triline), I think it would have been dragged out.”
Captain Ponga looked disappointed after his side’s 3-8 win-loss this season.
“It was frustrating,” he said of the bunker call.
“I thought we were coming back, (we) had the speed, the energy was too much for us. Then getting that call … the most frustrating part was how we ended up.”
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Ponga was asked what referee Adam G. Bunker suggested as an explanation for the decision.
“(Martin) passed the ball straight. So, from my take, you can now catch the ball behind someone and pass straight,” Ponga said.
“I don’t know. That’s what he said.”
The Knights were stunned by a separate bunker call the night before, when Dan Gagai snatched an attempt because video officials claimed he had lost the ball.
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