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‘We don’t believe there was enough to award a penalty’

NRL head of football Graham Annesley admitted the bunker got it wrong in awarding North Queensland a controversial penalty at the end of Sunday’s clash which led to their match-winning penalty goal against the Wests Tigers.

Annesley addressed the media on Monday afternoon and said while the Cowboys were entitled to make a captain’s challenge on the play but conceded bunker official Ashley Klein made a blunder when he awarded a penalty against the last-placed Tigers.

Klein ruled Tigers centre Asu Kepaoa “ran sideways which denies” Kyle Feldt from the final kick-off of the match with one second on the clock. Feldt was laughing after the verdict was announced and Valentine Holmes stepped up to nail the pressure penalty goal to the delight of the local fans.

“We’re just not satisfied that there was enough in that incident to warrant the decision of the bunker to award a penalty kick,” Annesley said at his Monday media briefing.

“Yes there was contact, yes there was a collision but we believe that the Wests Tigers player involved was heading towards the ball, he didn’t look over his shoulder to see who was coming behind him. Yes he ran a slightly strange line towards the ball but he was heading towards the ball and these are matters of judgment from the officials but on review this morning we just don’t believe there was enough in that to award a penalty and that the on-field challeng should have been at that point dismissed by the bunker as an unsuccessful challenge.”

Earlier on Monday, Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe announced they had demanded an explanation from the NRL.

“We believe the officials got it wrong, plain and simple,” Pascoe said. “That decision has cost us victory and we want answers.

“Our players worked their backsides off all night to celebrate Jimmy’s 300th game, and they are to be applauded for their efforts,” he added in reference to captain James Tamou’s milestone match.

“I know officials also work hard to get it right, but this in our opinion was just so wrong. I have spoken to a number of very experienced players, former players, media commentators, and our own coaching staff, and everyone agrees it was the wrong call.

“I’m not here to bash officials, I know they are doing their best, but the bunker is there to avoid ‘howlers’. We would like an explanation from the NRL, and our members and fans deserve that.”

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