FUMING Gold Coast coach John Cartwright launched a withering attack on the NRL's referees after a controversial no-try ruling helped Newcastle hang on for a nail-biting 23-18 victory at EnergyAustralia Stadium yesterday.
Cartwright said he had never seen a game with more refereeing inconsistencies, and that was on top of video official Sean Hampstead's decision to disallow replacement William Zillman a 79th-minute try from dummy half.
Titans co-captain Scott Prince was ruled to have obstructed Newcastle defender Junior Sau as he played the ball and, much to the delight of the Newcastle crowd of 11,258, the no-try ruling flashed onto the screen.
“It's a defender's responsibility to get off the man with the ball, it's not Princey's job to get rid of the defender, that's what half the penalties are given for,” Cartwright said.
“You go through a game ... you'll see 20 of those tackles.”
Prince also was dumfounded as the Titans were denied the try and a wide conversion attempt that could have delivered them victory in a match Newcastle had led for most of the 80 minutes.
“I didn't reach out to grab him, he was just tied up inside the tackle so I don't know (how) they expected me to get up and untangle myself to play the ball, it gives them time to reset their defensive line,” Prince said. “He was on the side of me anyway so he's a marker out of place so it should have been a penalty to us.”
Cartwright also took issue with a 47th-minute disallowed try to winger Chris Walker who was ruled to have knocked on a Prince grubber.
“We're talking about a game here that was decided by a bloke in the middle,” Cartwright said.
“The inconsistencies in that game were as bad as I've ever seen, (for) both sides.”
On an afternoon of drama, Gold Coast stars Anthony Laffranchi and Walker were both placed on report for using forearms to the heads of Newcastle opponents.
Test forward Laffranchi appeared to land with his arm on a tackled Mark Taufua in the 21st minute.
Walker contacted with Isaac De Gois in the 51st while in possession, resulting in a stoush between the two players.
Both incidents will be viewed by the NRL's match review committee today but look likely to attract charges, with Laffranchi's potentially the more serious.
“I know we live in different times but ... he pushed his face with his forearm, he didn't try and kill him or anything,” Cartwright said of the Laffranchi incident.
The Knights led 18-4 after half-an-hour and, after that was whittled away by Prince's superb passing game, absorbed the early second half pressure, including Walker's no-try.
They extended their lead to 22-16 when James McManus dived on a Jarrod Mullen grubber in the 57th minute. Mullen then extended the lead to seven points with a 68th minute field goal.
Prince narrowed the margin to five with a 75th minute penalty goal but the Knights held.