Sutton admits refs blew Moylan call
REFEREES boss Bernard Sutton has admitted the controversial penalty against Cronulla's Matt Moylan for his challenge on Broncos fullback Jamayne Isaako on Thursday night should not have been awarded.
Sutton phoned Sharks coach Shane Flanagan on Friday morning to concede the decision to penalise Moylan after Isaako fell awkwardly following his catch of a short dropout was incorrect.
The embattled Sutton also admitted the Sharks were on the wrong end of a one-on-one strip call in the second half. Matt Prior raked the ball out of Darius Boyd's hands and the ruling was originally a Cronulla scrum feed before it was reversed and Brisbane retained possession.
There was also a penalty on Moylan for slowing down the ruck in the first half that Sutton revealed should not have been awarded, as Jordan Kahu was adjudged to have milked it.
However, Sutton did back the decision by the decision-review bunker not to award a try to Ricky Leutele just before half-time.
Leutele appeared to plunge over but replays revealed Isaako got in the way of the ball before it could be grounded.
The penalty on Moylan came under particular scrutiny, with rugby league legend Andrew Johns adamant that penalising Moylan was the wrong call.
"If you watch the eye line of Matt Moylan, he's watching the ball the whole way," Johns said on Channel 9.
"He doesn't know who's in front of him. It's unfortunate but it's a contest for the ball."
Fellow commentator Paul Vautin agreed.
"That's called a collision. It happens every game. This is going to be a penalty now, for a collision," Vautin said.
Having already awarded Brisbane the penalty, referee Grant Atkins explained his decision to Sharks captain Andrew Fifita.
"I understand Matt has gone through, but ultimately what's happened is his run has put someone else in a dangerous position. Sometimes accidents happen, but ultimately it's his contact that puts him in a dangerous position," Atkins said.
That explanation only drew more ire from the commentary box.
"You know what that is, it's BS. He's made that up. What a gee-up," Vautin said.
Flanagan gave the refs both barrels after the match, with the result preventing Cronulla from continuing its top-four push.
"The no-try to Ricky Leutele, the bunker has got to have sufficient evidence that the ball didn't touch the ground," Flanagan said.
"I watched every replay. Brave call to say the ball definitely didn't touch the ground.
"We were on the receiving end last week, the positive end - we are on the opposite end this week, the negative end.
"That is a concern for the game. That refereeing standard tonight wasn't up to scratch."
The debate will fail to impress Sutton and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, who are both still reeling from last weekend's officiating furore.
Issues surrounding the quality of refereeing in 2018 were brought to a head in round 19 when the Sharks were awarded a try against the Raiders despite a touch judge raising his flag to stop play in the build-up.
Lead referee Gerard Sutton - Bernard's brother - ignored his touchie and sent the try to the NRL bunker for review. The try was eventually given as the Sharks went on to win the match, effectively rubbing the Raiders out of the match and the race for the finals.