SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Jack Wighton of the Raiders is tackled as Referee Gerard Sutton signals last tackle during the 2019 NRL Grand Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The most ironic of NRL grand finals will live in the memories of many. Roosters fans will never forget the night they claimed a second consecutive premiership, a remarkable achievement in the modern game.

Fans of their opponents will forever live in wonderment, curious as to whether one of the most controversial decisions ever seen in a decider may have cost their club a first title in 25 years.

In short, officialdom failed on the biggest day, and the fact that the controversial video referee played no role in it is somewhat ironic.

For years we have heard fateful cries of “what if it happens on grand final day” after another decision is muffed by the men in the most unpopular booth in the country.

Replays are constantly slowed down to a painstaking speed in the hunt for confirmation or denial of key moments in NRL matches and often the determination seems questionable.

Dubious decisions featuring decoy runners, debate around block plays where supporting players stop in the line and make minimal contract with defenders and the ever-controversial interpretations around downward pressure in the process of scoring of a try, have been a blight on the game ever since the video referee was introduced in 1998.

The system has undergone immense change and development over the years. In its current form, the Bunker still fails to instil faith and belief in the average rugby league fan.

Every now and again we all thank goodness for its existence when a relatively simple decision is either affirmed or overturned, avoiding the clanger for which it was first instituted.

However, in the most part, the average fan still hurls the odd ashtray or stubby at the television, as the frustratingly inane process of reviewing a potential try drags on and on and destroys the natural speed of the game.

Rather idiotically, forward passes, missed knock-ons and other refereeing errors outside of scoring opportunities go unquestioned. Yet when the ball enters the red zone, all the focus and intensity of the cameras combines with the sheer fear of the officials and their reluctance to make an independent call, to frustrate and infuriate fans right across the competition.

Luckily, the 2019/20 NRL Grand Final was not to be decided by a moment of technological analysis. Oh no! The rugby league Gods had something far better in store for a grand final that had immense interest in it thanks to the presence of the men from the nation’s capital.

In spite of all the fears, concerns and foreboding of the notorious Bunker one day determining a grand final with a dubious decision, referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton managed to find a way to ire the fans without even having to call upon it.

It was an astonishing effort and one that silenced those who have lampooned the technological system for many years. The men in green bumbled in such a way as to make the Bunker appear a solid and reliable old friend.

When Ben Cummins wrongly signalled six again after a high bomb cannoned off the shoulder of a Canberra player, as the Raiders bombarded the Roosters’ line, Jack Wighton picked up the scraps.

Hearing the call, with a full set right on the Roosters’ try-line looming and the scores tied at 8-8, the moment appeared nigh for the green machine to snatch the lead as they began to take the ascendancy.

What followed resembled something from a Benny Hill skit, as Cummins asked his partner in crime whether it had indeed been touched by a Rooster, Sutton raised his hand to signal the 6th and last tackle.

Cummins frantically attempted to convey that information to Wighton who would surely have kicked/passed had he been aware of the change. The Canberra five-eighth was tackled and stunned when the ball was taken from him for a Roosters play the ball.

In a nutshell, Cummins panicked, made a decision with which he should have stuck and changed his call mid-stream. It denied the Raiders a chance to score on that last play, yet his original call would have incorrectly given the Raiders an undeserved set at the Tricolours line.

It was a stuff-up off epic propositions.

Most sad of all is Cummins’ insistence to the Raiders’ players that he did not restart the tackle count, despite both audio and visual confirming he did.

A simple question needs to be asked. Isn’t the six-again signal made by Cummins on the night designed for that exact situation? For the players to spot quickly and thus adjust, especially whilst the din of the crowd makes hearing the officials’ call nigh impossible.

It was a sad night for the NRL, through no fault of either team. Both remained quite classy in the post-match.

The game continues to find ways to erode the trust and faith of the fans. This time around, it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it doesn’t require the hated Bunker to achieve that.

It appears, rugby league only needs a couple of humans in the middle to turn a grand final into a farce.

13 COMMENTS

  1. This mistake from the referee did not decide the grand final. The original call was incorrect but 4 seconds later it was corrected with the ref sticking his arm up straight away calling out last tackle, which over the next 10 seconds he repeats screaming out last tackle……still the last tackle. Canberraa’s no.9 gathered the ball from the bomb after it came off a Canberra player. He then passes it onto no.15 who runs for 5 seconds with the ref screaming out last tackle still last tackle and he obviously heard the ref who was 3 metres away so as he is falling and desperate to keep the ball alive he off loads with three Roosters on him to Canberra no.6 standing 5 metres away from the ref while he is singing out last tackle. Wighton is 5 metres away from the ref and he decides to run breaking Friends tackle and palming off Keary in a 5 second run all this still close to the ref were he reminds Wighton still last tackle but after palming Keary to the side he sprints for the open try line and is immediately tackle by Cronk in cover.

    Yes the ref signaled 6 again but over the next 10 seconds he is calling out last tackle after reveresing the original incorect decision.

    Canberra had 10 seconds to kick the ball into the in goal. They chose to run it knowing it was the last or Canberra no.15 would of died with the ball then do a risky off load. Wouldn’t he. Wighton wanted to be the ball hog hero and score the match winning try but got tackled. Then he plays dumb saying the ref waved 6 again.

    he is falling and desperate to keep the ball alive he off loads with three Roosters on him to Canberra no.6 standing 5 metres away from the ref while he is singing out last tackle. Wighton is 5 metres away from the ref and he decides to run breaking Friends tackle and palming off Keary in a 5 second run all this still close to the ref were he reminds Wighton still last tackle but after palming Keary to the side he sprints for the open try line and is immediately tackle by Cronk in cover.

    In the next set of six tackles Canberra let the game slip past them as the Roosters work there way out from there own 10 metre line and eventually making 30 metres over 4 tackles to their own 40m line, on the 5th tackle Keary runs towads Latrell who flicks it onto tupou then onto Tedesco to score the winning try.

  2. The ball definately comes off tedescos shoulder first no matter how much spin annersley tries to put on it. The 6 again call was correct and that bufoon sutton made the error yet gets off scott free cause his brother is refs boss.

  3. Firstly, I’d say I’m as disappointed as any RL fan by that incident. I feel for the Raiders, the club, players, supporters etc. but what’s the point of harping on about? I feel for refs too, because how do you think they’d be feeling?
    I understand the confusion caught players off guard, and therefore disrupted positioning etc. and I, like everyone else, have no idea how it would have played out if the (wrong) call of 6 again wasn’t made in the first place.
    The saddest part is this is all most people are talking about, well actually that’s not entirely true, the saddest part is that so many people (predominately through the media/social media) are claiming the raiders were robbed, as if it was a forgone conclusion they would have gone on to score, even though that looked very unlikely (to me at least). They may have got a restart (a reasonable chance), and then who knows, but no one will ever know.
    Maybe we should just say “well done to both teams for a great game, and congratulations to the Roosters”.

  4. Just put on the replay at that point and 100% comes off Tedesco 1st.
    Cant believe they didnt analyse it closer. They were obviously focused on the ruling drama.
    Annersley you have to go.

  5. eelsalmighty it doesn’t matter if they were going to score or not.
    The point is they were robbed of the opportunity, no argument.

  6. Twentyone, I disagree.
    A. Even in slow motion I couldn’t say it definatley came off Teddy, and don’t think it did.
    B. I tried to make that point, in that I understand the effects it would have made to the play itself, and on player positioning after a play.

  7. As per the recent comments on this, I’m not convinced it came off Teddy’s shoulder and others are. I’m not saying I’m right, and may well be wrong, but we have the benefit of slow motion etc, and it’s still not 100% one way or the other, maybe because I’m the only person in the world that can’t see it (maybe).
    So, an on field call was made, rightly or wrongly, and overturned, rightly or wrongly, and that leads to this? That leads to everyone talking about that call?
    Seems very wrong to me.

  8. Like the sook Kev of Parra, ManLove78 hasn’t even watched the game. Otherwise he woukd have known the facts. Another one of those pansies if their team bombs out rhey refuse to watch the grand final.🤡🤡@2clowns

  9. Those calling the game on 9 and fox all said it come off the Raiders it did. Wishing it was off the chooks doesnt make it so.
    The Raiders after the game said they failed to close it out nothing to do with the refs.
    The 2nd half stats confirm it. Possession 60% Field position 58% Penalties 3-1 Forced line dropouts 2-0 Offloads 13-1 and played against 12 men for 10 minutes yet still could not get across the stripe.
    The Roosters were on top for the first 15 minutes and then the Raiders threw everything at them for the next 50 minutes.
    The last 15 minutes the chooks hit the go button and the Raiders couldnt go with them. End of story.

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