Eels beat Panthers 26-18, referee struck - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels beat Panthers 26-18, referee struck

By Philip Henderson 03/05/2008 10:59:15 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matt Elliott called for the Panthers fan who threw a foam football at referee Ben Cummins to be banned for life from NRL games after an incident-marred climax to Parramatta's come-from-behind 26-18 win at CUA Stadium.

Cummins was struck on the head by the mini football as he was being escorted from the field at fulltime with police apprehending the aggrieved fan and ejecting him from the stadium.

No NRL official was at the ground, but the league is certain to launch an investigation into the incident which capped a controversial match including several questionable calls for both sides.

"I saw that, that was rubbish, it was very disappointing," Elliott said of the incident, while also claiming the match officials should be "disappointed" with their own performances.

"I thought the crowd played a big part in the performance, both home and away fans ... but that's rubbish, that doesn't belong in our game.

"He should take up supporting another sport I reckon, because he shouldn't be allowed back in.

"If a player did that he'd get banned for life wouldn't he. Then I think that's fair that that applies to that fan."

Penrith led 14-6 at half time, but were swamped by a resurgent Parramatta in the second half, despite the Eels having five players backing up from Friday night's City-Country match.

The visitors also lost winger Eric Grothe to concussion at the break, but laid on four tries in a sparkling 10-minute period to turn an eight-point deficit into a match-winning 12-point lead.

Backrower Nathan Hindmarsh led the Eels' rearguard, scoring the try that ignited their four-try burst in the 50th minute in a 39-tackle, five-star performance just 24 hours after playing for NSW Country.

Halfback Brett Finch also impressed after representing Country, while fullback Luke Burt celebrated a milestone night after becoming only the second Eel, behind club great Mick Cronin, to score 1,000 first-grade points.

The win snapped a worrying three-game losing streak for the Eels, with coach Michael Hagan hoping it would act as a springboard for the season.

"I think it was getting to the critical stage for us," said Hagan.

"I still think the team has a lot to look forward to ... and I think we're capable of stringing a few wins together."

The win was not without its controversies however.

Panthers backrower Nathan Smith was denied a try close to halftime after Cummins ruled he had been held up over the line.

Panthers hooker Luke Priddis then looked to have scored an amazing length of the field try shortly after halftime following a 90-metre break from winger Michael Gordon, only for Cummins to call the play back for a 20m re-start after ruling Gordon had caught a Brett Finch kick in his in-goal. Gordon had one foot in goal and one foot in the field of play as he jumped for the ball.

Elliott said both were "massive calls" against his side but, while admitting they changed the game, refused to blame the decisions for the loss.

"I think they (Parramatta) got some tough calls too," Elliott said.

"I think the officials will be disappointed with their performances tonight, from where I was sitting there were a few calls and a few no calls ... that stood out for me as being not what they would have liked."

Elliott also branded as "disgraceful" the time it took video referee Graeme West to award Panthers skipper Petero Civoniceva a try in the first half. West looked at up to a dozen replays over several minutes after being asked to rule on a possible double movement before finally awarding the try.

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