NRL 2024: Graham Annesley backs the Bunker on Titans no try call

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NRL head of football Graham Annesley has hit back at suggestions the Titans were robbed of victory at Magic Round because of a crucial late call by the Bunker, insisting the officials got the call right to deny a potentially match-winning try to Brian Kelly.

Kelly thought he’d scored with four minutes remaining to level the scores in a pulsating game against the Knights, but the Bunker ruled that he lost control of the ball as Newcastle held on to win 28-24.

Gold Coast coach Des Hasler was irate after the game and said it was a try “every day of the week”, unsure why his side wasn’t awarded a penalty at the very least for a strip.

“I understand the emotion around this for clubs, but no amount of emotion is going to turn what’s not a try into a try,” Annesley said.

“These things get examined minutely, and they have to be examined minutely because that’s how everyone else examines the game.

“The Bunker has to make a ruling based on the evidence in front of them. They made a ruling that the ball at one stage was in his arm and on his arm, and then one or two frames after that, the ball is on the ground.

“For this to be called a howler or somehow that the Titans were robbed by this decision – and I hate using that word – this is a decision made by the Bunker based on the evidence they had available.

“If that had been awarded a try then there would’ve been an equal number of people saying ‘he lost the ball’.

“This is not the reason the game was won or lost.”

Annesley spoke with Hasler after the game and then explained on Monday that fans of any team will always blow up if their side is denied by a major decision late in the contest.

“I absolutely understand where everyone who supports the Titans is coming from, just as I do when I stand up here every week and we have these sorts of tight decisions (analysed),” he said, happy with the decision to award Newcastle a penalty try in the second half.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Titans, the Panthers or any team in our competition when we go down to the wire on a decision like this, the fans will ultimately have their own views on the outcome, and nine times out of 10, they’ll feel like they were on the wrong end of the decision.”

Annesley also defended the decision to award Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow a long-range try against the Wests Tigers despite replays showing what looked to be a Jeremy Marshall-King knock-on during a fight for the ball.

“The reason it’s a try is that it doesn’t come off the hands or arm of a Dolphins player,” he said.

“It goes chest and then chin, and then his arm comes up and he gathers the ball in. At that point, he has not knocked on the ball at all.”

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