‘Dudded’: Eels lament refereeing after Panthers loss

Jasper Bruce |

Clint Gutherson reckons the Eels were “dudded” on a couple of calls in the loss to Penrith.
Clint Gutherson reckons the Eels were “dudded” on a couple of calls in the loss to Penrith.

Clint Gutherson says the referees “dudded” Parramatta by failing to properly enforce the new interpretation of the NRL’s downtown rule in their loss to Penrith.

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley indicated pre-season that match officials would take a tougher stance on players who position themselves “downtown” in 2024.

The rule states that if an attacking player moves past the site of the last play-the-ball before the ball has been kicked past the chasers, the team that has just kicked the ball can be penalised.

The rule is intended to prevent scenarios where the player who receives the ball immediately finds himself swamped by defenders who had a head-start on their kick chase.

Across the first week-and-a-half of the season, North Queensland hooker Reece Robson and Brisbane forward Pat Carrigan have both been penalised amid the new crackdown.

But the rule can also apply in situations closer to the tryline.

Ahead of Penrith’s first try in their 26-18 win on Friday night, Isaah Yeo stood ahead of the point of the previous play-the-ball before Nathan Cleary kicked through the line at close range.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards then ran past the Parramatta defence to ground the ball and help level the scores at 6-6.

At full-time, Eels coach Brad Arthur lamented the officiating of the match and put particular focus on the lack of downtown penalties blown to his side.

“Not a lot went right for us, with a few calls I reckon,” he said.

“I just thought there’s some rule changes there that need to be enforced. You can’t jump in front of blokes when they’re catching the ball, you can’t be downtown in front of kicks.

“The first try was downtown. It’s the rule.”

Eels captain Gutherson said it was on players to adjust to new interpretations of the rules, and that his side may not have gotten the rub of the green against the Panthers.

“Rules are rules. You’ve got to do what the referees are doing,” he said.

“As Brad said, we probably thought we got dudded on a couple of calls.”

Panthers co-captain Nathan Cleary was comfortable his side were interpreting the new rule correctly.

“I think we’re adjusting to it pretty well. I thought it was good tonight,” he said.

Annesley is set to address the incident in his weekly briefing on Monday afternoon.