Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy says he is sick of NRL games being decided by controversial calls, as the rugby league gods delivered his side a dose of karma with a last-gasp 24-22 loss to Canberra.
Raiders forward Paul Vaughan crossed in the 79th minute to level the scores and man-of-the-match Jarrod Croker kicked the conversion for the dramatic home side victory at Canberra Stadium.
Up 22-18 in the 71st minute of the Sunday match, the Storm looked to have things wrapped up when winger Sisa Waqa appeared to cross for his second try.
However, the on-field referee, with assistance from the touch judge, ruled that he bounced short of the line after a brilliant tackle from 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 loss comes 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.
“Everyone is sick of games being decided on controversial calls,” Bellamy said.
“It’s frustrating, frustrating for everyone.”
Bellamy said there was too much pressure on referees and touch judges to make on-field decisions.
“Sometimes they can’t see any better than us, and they’ve got to make a ruling,” he said.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart opted not to give his take on the ruling, only saying his side had experienced their fair share of bad decisions recently.
He instead praised their character to fight back from 10 points down midway through the second half to snap a six game losing streak at home.
“It’s good to get that monkey off our back and put our season back on track,” captain Terry Campese added.
Raiders fullback Anthony Milford was sensational, as was his opposite Billy Slater, who would’ve busted the game wide open if it wasn’t for some desperate defence by Croker – who made three try-saving tackles.
Storm forward Ryan Hinchliffe opened the scoring in the ninth minute after pouncing on a Cameron Smith grubber that had rebounded off the post.
The Raiders struck back through centre Matt Allwood in the 15th minute but the Storm skipped away again with tries to Waqa and Mahe Fonua.
The home side narrowed the gap to 16-12 thanks to winger Reece Robinson finishing off a try on the stroke of half time that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Harlem Globetrotters match.
Fonua, a late inclusion for the suspended Will Chambers, picked up his second of the match not long after the break, but it didn’t take much longer for Robinson to do the same for the Raiders.
Waqa was then again denied his second by the video ref after having also had one disallowed earlier, giving the Raiders a sniff at the win.