Finch backs under-fire NRL refs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Finch backs under-fire NRL refs

25/05/2009 04:13:01 PM Comments (0)

Manly captain Matt Orford got it wrong - embattled referee Matt Cecchin won't be dumped this week.

With NRL referees under siege following a string of controversial crucial calls in the past two rounds, refs coach Robert Finch came out in their support on Monday, saying recent criticism of them and the two-referee system was unfair.

Finch made it clear Cecchin would not be dropped this week, like colleague Steve Clark was last week, and as Orford told him he would be.

However, he stopped short of saying Cecchin made the right decision when he awarded the last minute penalty against Orford which allowed Gold Coast to snatch victory over Manly on Sunday.

The ruling that Orford impeded Titans fullback Preston Campbell as he dived on a loose ball drew widespread criticism as a "howler".

Even Campbell admitted on Monday he thought Orford was just making a play at the ball.

"My initial thought when I heard the whistle blow was that he'd knocked it on," said Campbell.

In the aftermath, seething Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler, an outspoken critic of the two referee system, called for the NRL to act on the quality of refereeing.

"The game is professional, the officialdom isn't," said Hasler.

"...it was again a junior referee who decided the issue with, in my opinion, a dreadful error under pressure."

Finch said it was incorrect to blame the two referees system and wrong to suggest Cecchin was a junior referee as he was graded in 2001, has officiated at grand finals and State of Origin and has over 30 first grade games as the central referee.

"The decision he made yesterday was an incredibly tough call to make and whichever way he went someone was going to criticise the outcome, most predictably whichever side lost the game," Finch said.

"There was only one guy out there who had the job of deciding whether Orford tried to take Campbell out in attempting to get to the ball.

"This is not a situation where I can say the referee was categorically right or wrong.

"There's no doubt, however, that he interpreted the events on the basis of having done everything correctly."

Titans coach John Cartwright said the decision was a "50-50 call" but said he would like to see the two-referees system altered.

"I think it's difficult to get consistency when you've got two referees refereeing the one game," Cartwright said.

"I'm happy with the two guys out there but possibly one controlling the game and the inexperienced bloke handling the ruck area is a way we can jig it to try and get more consistency."

Finch also backed the decision by Jared Maxwell to sin bin Benji Marshall in Friday night's clash between Wests Tigers and Brisbane for repeated infringements.

"The decision was not a reaction to anything in the media but it is interesting to note that it's only a couple of weeks ago that referees were being attacked for giving warnings and not following them through," Finch said.

"No referee enjoys sin-binning a player in such a circumstance but in conditions like that it is just as important not to have games decided by players who are prepared to risk penalty after penalty to disrupt the opposition.

"There is no doubt that he was in the best position to make judgment and it is a judgment people should accept in a professional manner."

Finch stood down video referee Steve Clark after a match-deciding wrong decision in the Bulldogs v St George Illawarra clash last week, but said this week's criticism had been unfair.

"We put our hand up last week over the Steve Clark decision but since then and into today I have heard criticism that is not fair," he said.

"Again, it's only a few weeks ago people were trying to attack referees for not making decisions late in matches.

"The silly thing about some of what is being said in the aftermath is that if we had still had one referee he would have been in a significantly worse position to make that decision than Matt was yesterday."

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