NRL refs boss admits game-clinching penalty 'incorrect'
NRL referees' boss Bernard Sutton has conceded the controversial penalty awarded to the Brisbane Broncos that sealed 9-7 golden point victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown was "incorrect".
Sutton declared referee Ashley Klein's call to ping the Tigers marker defence in the 87th minute "an error in judgement", with the resulting penalty goal from Broncos rookie Jamayne Isaako inflicting the Tigers first loss of 2018.
“Ultimately, the penalty was incorrect," Sutton told NRL.com on Saturday.
"(Wests Tigers marker defender) Robbie Rochow doesn’t start square but as the play-the-ball furthers he does adjust.
"As he is playing the ball (Joe) Ofehangaue, he moves to the left, which gives the illusion that Rochow is still standing side-by-side but he has actually adjusted to where the play the ball did happen.
"The referees have made an error in judgement."
Sutton has contacted both aggrieved Tigers coach Ivan Cleary and the two officials involved in the contentious call to explain the decision.
Moses Mbye's opening try in Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs defeat of the Penrith Panthers is still under review by the referees' panel, which Anthony Griffin declared a "classic obstruction".
With the bunker ruling that lead runner Will Hopoate had made minimal contact on defender James Maloney, Sutton said he has reminded his officials of the caution required in a discretionary ruling.
"There is some discretion that can be applied by the on-field referees in that type of obstruction," Sutton said.
"The on-field referees and review officials can consider the significance of a contact and the level of disadvantage it has had on a defender, that's in the law.
"I have reminded the referees that they need to be cautious when applying that level of discretion, particularly when the try is scored immediately adjacent to where that contact is made by the lead runner."
Despite wrongly awarding Brisbane the critical golden point penalty, Sutton backed his whistle blowers to continue making potentially game-turning calls when needed.
"We've encouraged the referees to make strong and confident decisions all year, and we'll still encourage the referees to do exactly that," he said.
"What happened last night is unfortunately the judgement was off the mark a little and it resulted in the incorrect penalty.
"When something is identified in the ruck or with the markers in golden point, just like any other point in a game, I do expect the officials to penalise."