Dragons squeeze past Sharks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dragons squeeze past Sharks

By Steve Jancetic 20/06/2010 06:19:02 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart has refused to heap blame on referee Tony Archer despite the game's No.1 whistleblower committing a gaffe that may have put paid to the Sharks' slim finals hopes.

With Cronulla trailing ladder-leaders St George Illawarra 12-4 and ten minutes remaining in Sunday's southern derby at Toyota Stadium, Archer inexplicably refused to go to the video referee when lock Paul Gallen burrowed over for what he believed was a try.

While limited replays indicated doubt over a possible double movement, Archer ruled the NSW Origin representative had been held up.

The Sharks had wasted yet another opportunity and the Dragons put on two late tries to run out 22-4 winners.

Told via a third party that Archer had admitted he made an error in not consulting the video referee, Stuart said he was not holding the experienced referee responsible for the defeat which put another nail in the coffin that is Cronulla's fading finals hopes.

"It was a very, very crucial decision," Stuart said.

"That was an important result for us, an important result for our season.

"We needed that try. Apparently Tony Archer's said that he's made a mistake there, that he should have had a look at it.

"That's why Tony Archer's the best ref in the game - because he's a man and he's put his hand up and he's probably made an error there.

"He didn't think Gal was anywhere near the try-line but obviously with technology today, it ended up being a try.

"It would have been fantastic for us to be in the game with 10 to go but I'm not critical of him at all."

Outgoing chief executive Richard Fisk wasn't as forgiving.

"The bottom line was Paul could have scored a try and without question the referee should have gone upstairs," Fisk said.

"And I think if you talk to the referee he'd be the first to admit he made a mistake."

Stuart was left lamenting another display in which the Sharks showed plenty of heart but lacked that bit of class, their play punctuated by dumb options with three kicks on the opening three tackles of their set coming up empty.

They dominated the opening half yet somehow found themselves down 6-4 when Isaac Gordon cancelled out the first of rookie Kyle Stanley's four-pointers, which came about on the first of few attacking raids the Dragons were able to mount over the opening 40 minutes.

The Dragons then did what they do best - got out in front and controlled the game.

Brett Morris scored off a spilled Jamie Soward six minutes after the restart before Jason Nightingale and the impressive Stanley finished them off.

Coach Wayne Bennett paid credit to his side's first half resistance for setting the platform for the win, achieved without the presence of eight first-choice starters including NSW pair Matt Cooper (hamstring) and Michael Weyman (groin).

"We had four penalties there against us in the first half and we spent most of the time coming out of our own end or defending," Bennett said.

"We only got that one opportunity to score that try and it was the only time we got down there."

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