Three controversial match defining refereeing decisions in as many games has left Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy pleading with the NRL to make the blunders to stop.
The tipping point came on Sunday afternoon in his side’s 24-22 loss to the Raiders in Canberra, just minutes before a last-gasp match winner to forward Paul Vaughan.
Up 22-18 in the 71st minute, the Storm all but had things wrapped up when winger Sisa Waqa appeared to cross for his second try out wide.
However, the on-field referee, with assistance from the touch judge, ruled that he bounced short of the line after a brilliant tackle from Jarrod Croker – and there wasn’t enough evidence for the video referee to overturn the decision.
“I thought it was (on the line). It’s just confusing,” Bellamy said.
The ruling came just six days after an officiating blunder gifted the Storm a miraculous win over St George Illawarra with a try the NRL later conceded shouldn’t have been awarded as the final play-the-ball came after the fulltime siren.
The week before that, Ryan Hinchcliffe was controversially penalised for stripping the ball out from Titans prop Luke Douglas – the ensuing two points sealing the win for Gold Coast with 19 seconds left.
“I think all the fans are a bit disillusioned at the moment,” Bellamy said.
“Everyone is sick of games being decided on controversial calls.
“Its frustrating, whether you’re a Raiders or Storm fan.”
The decision left sideline commentator and rugby league great Wally Lewis baffled.
“I’m absolutely stunned,” he said during commentary on the Nine Network.
Bellamy believes it’s unreasonable to have referees and touch judges make on-field decisions that can’t be easily overturned.
“I reckon they’re putting too much pressure on referees and touch judges,” he said.
“Sometimes they can’t see any better than us, but they’ve got to make a ruling.”
Storm captain Cameron Smith was resigned to his side’s fate after the match.
“We’ve all seen that it doesn’t matter what the captains or the coaches think,” he said.
Croker said he wasn’t sure whether Waqa made it over the line or not.
“I knew the first contact was short because he dived pretty early,” he said.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart opted not to give his take, only saying his side had experienced their fair share of bad decisions recently.