Referee Ashely Klein has managed to survive a blatant blunder that potentially cost Parramatta the game last Saturday night.
The refereeing appointments for the preliminary finals have raised eyebrows, with Klein appointed to referee the Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs preliminary final. Gergard Sutton will be the other referee to take charge this weekend, officiating the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm on Saturday afternoon.
Klein's appointment comes despite missing a crucial penalty last weekend against Penrith half Jarome Luai, a decision which cost Parramatta dearly, and has already been admitted as incorrect by the NRL's head of football, Graham Annesley.
Annesley did, however, squarely blame the touch judge for the issue.
"This should have been a penalty – I don’t believe it warranted more than a penalty because it wasn’t a professional foul in a try-scoring situation,” Annesley said during his Monday footy briefing.
“This is a miss by the touch judge in this case – back play is the realm of the touch judge and it’s a miss, there’s no question about that.”
While there were other controversies during the game, Klein was cleared by Annesley for the remainder, although Eels fans would almost certainly beg to differ on many of the questionable calls from the narrow and physical eight points to six contest.
Manly and South Sydney won't be the only ones baffled though, with the Panthers reportedly privately unhappy with the decision for Gerard Sutton to referee their game with the Storm, according to an The Daily Telegraph report.
While nothing has been declared publicly by the Panthers, they believe that the Storm's spoiling tactics have deceived Sutton and have worked within Melbourne's favour in many of their wins.
Clubs have reportedly previously already expressed their concern over Sutton's likely appointment to the grand final and his brother Bernard's link with the Melbourne Storm.
Despite that, Gerard Sutton is viewed as the best referee in the game, having watched over six of the last seven grand finals and at least one match in the last eight State of Origin series.
The 42-year-old is all but a certainty to officiate the decider, with only Klein and Grant Atkins - who has been overlooked this weekend - rumoured to be otherwise in the picture.