NRL weighs in on Jarome Luai’s controversial move during semi-final between Panthers and Eels
The NRL’s head of football, Graham Annesley, admits Jarome Luai should have been penalised for holding Mitchell Moses off the ball when Saturday night’s semi-final between Penrith and Parramatta was in the balance.
With their side down by two points with 12 minutes remaining, Parramatta fans were left fuming when the Panthers’ five-eighth held onto Moses’ jersey, denying him the opportunity to run in support as the Eels made a break down the right side of the field.
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By the time Eels winger Blake Ferguson was in Penrith’s half and kicking to the inside, Moses had fallen to the ground as a result of his clash with Luai.
Ultimately, the Panthers retrieved the footy and held on to record a two-point win.
After the game, NRL pundits agreed Luai should have been penalised.
“That’s clearly a penalty, by a long way, if not a professional foul,” Fox League’s Braith Anasta said.
“This moment obviously was a big one.”
Storm and Roosters legend Cooper Cronk agreed that the non-penalty led to a “missed opportunity” for the Eels to score points.
On Monday, the NRL formally addressed the incident for the first time.
“This should have been a penalty,” Annesley told reporters at his weekly press briefing.
Annesley said he did not believe Luai should have been sin-binned, however,
“I don’t believe it warranted more than a penalty because it wasn’t a professional foul in terms of a tryscoring situation, certainly not for Moses, anyway,” he said.
Referee Ashley Klein copped criticism for the miss, but Annesley said it was not his responsibility to have picked up the indiscretion.
“This is a miss by the touch judge, in this case,” he said.
“For as long as I’ve been involved in the game, back play is the realm of the touch judge. It’s a miss, there’s no question about that.
“The referee obviously has to watch the ball carrier and clearly we had Ferguson making a break. He’s about to either kick the ball or pass it back inside, and so the referee’s got a responsibility to watch that.”
Annesley also rejected suggestion the much-maligned Bunker was to blame.
“The Bunker can’t rule on general play,” Annesley said.
“The only way the Bunker could have intervened on this was if there was ultimately a tryscoring situation and the referee referred it to the Bunker for a decision on interference or any other action that could have flowed from that.
“Because the play doesn’t break down and it continues, it’s not something that the Bunker can intervene on.”
While he does not believe it cost Parramatta the game, Annesley said the miss could influence which touch judges are appointed to this weekend’s preliminary finals.
“The outcome of games is the end result of hundreds of incidents that happen across 80 minutes, not one particular incident that might happen at some particular point of the game,” he said.
“Of course, you’d like to get all of those right, but occasionally some of these things get missed. We have to consider that now in terms of the appointments for next weekend.”
Parramatta bore the brunt of another controversial moment shortly after Luai’s clash with Moses.
Attacking Penrith’s line in the dying minutes, the Eels lost all momentum when a Panthers trainer asked for play to be stopped so he could attend to injured interchange hooker Mitch Kenny.
Speculation was rife that the stoppage was tactical, in contravention with the NRL Operations Manual’s rules, and reports the trainer had called for play to stop before he had examined Kenny’s injury on-field only fuelled the fire.
Annesley confirmed the NRL hoped to finalise its investigation into the matter by Tuesday afternoon.
“These things take a little bit of time to look into,” he said.
“I’m not at this point passing judgement on the outcome of this, but there are inquiries currently being made about how this came about.”
Originally published as NRL weighs in on Jarome Luai’s controversial move during semi-final between Panthers and Eels
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