‘Never heard booing like that’: Refs frustrate Knights

Jasper Bruce |

Knights coach Adam O’Brien reckoned he’d never heard a crowd boo as loudly in Newcastle.
Knights coach Adam O’Brien reckoned he’d never heard a crowd boo as loudly in Newcastle.

Adam O’Brien has lamented the officiating of Newcastle’s loss to the Sydney Roosters, saying the Knights’ faithful booed louder at the end of the game than any crowd he had heard before.

But the coach will not seek any explanations from the NRL and refused to place sole blame on the referees after his side fell 22-20 in Newcastle on Thursday night.

A try to Adam Elliott put the Knights back within two points in the final five minutes at McDonald Jones Stadium before Kalyn Ponga’s line break threatened to help them snatch the game.

Adam Elliott scores
Adam Elliott scoring for the Knights on what proved a frustrating night for Newcastle. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

The Newcastle fullback tore down the right side but was stopped by opposite man Joey Manu, with centre Fetailaga Pauga then holding Ponga as he attempted to play the ball.

The incident slowed the ruck down enough for the Roosters defence to scamper back onside but was not deemed a professional foul.

Had a penalty been blown, the Knights could have taken a shot at goal from just outside the 40-metre line to potentially tie the game.

Jayden Brailey had one last roll of the dice when he kicked at close range but Terrell May caught the ball, helping the Roosters hold on and prompting the crowd to jeer.

“I empathise. These fans, they know footy,” O’Brien said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a stadium so frustrated, never heard booing like that at the end of a game. There must be something in it.

“It felt like there were two different standards there (for ruck speed).”

O’Brien felt the officiating followed a “theme” and was similarly displeased with the decision not to award Knights centre Dane Gagai a try due to an apparent obstruction in the second half.

Decoy runner Dylan Lucas took Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary out of the play but O’Brien felt the Roosters still had an opportunity to tackle Gagai.

“It’s a two v two, it’s a missed tackle on the outside. Again, that’s another one (contentious call),” he said.

But O’Brien was reticent to discredit the Roosters and will not contact the NRL to air his grievances further.

“It’ll just add to my workload,” he said.

“We’ve got a really disappointed dressing room that fought bloody hard tonight and me whingeing in here ain’t going to help them.

“There was some stuff that we needed to do better in periods, stuff I needed to do better.

“I’m not taking anything away from the Roosters, they work hard at their defence and they stack really well but it just felt like we didn’t get many rewards.”