Opinion Sutton’s apology to Stuart not the first this season


Staff member
Apr 7, 2013
NRL referees boss Bernie Sutton has confirmed Canberra received two incorrect calls by officials, which all but ended the club’s finals hopes and potentially robbed them of about $200,000 in September earnings.

Sutton called Stuart to inform him Cronulla winger Sione Katoa should never have been awarded a try after a touch judge raised his flag to signal a knock-on on Friday night. Canberra players stood around waiting to pack a scrum when they saw the flag raised, only for Katoa to play on and stroll across the try line untouched.

Canberra were then denied a try to Brad Abbey after officials ruled a forward pass, which also proved to be the wrong call, Sutton admitted yesterday.

Fairfax Media can reveal it was not the first time Sutton contacted Stuart this season to admit referees had made incorrect decisions that ultimately cost the Raiders two competition points. Similar conversations are understood to have taken place in the early rounds.

The fallout from Cronulla’s 28-24 win also prompted sports betting company Ladbrokes to take the extraordinary step of refunding punters who had backed the Raiders in head-to-head markets as a show of good faith.

‘‘Our clients are pretty disenchanted with the bunker, and we didn’t think it was fair people who backed Canberra lost,’’ Ladbrokes chief executive Jason Scott said.

Ladbrokes was also prepared to pay any fine Stuart may have incurred when he questioned the contentious calls after the match, spoke about fans deserting the game, the relevance of the bunker and why referees had too many people in their ear.

The touch judge, Rick MacFarlane, is expected to be dropped for next weekend’s games.

‘‘The touchie has raised his flag and put it down again quickly,’’ Sutton said. ‘‘What he needed to do was ensure the referees knew he had raised his flag, and we needed to stop the game at that point.
‘‘It shouldn’t have been a try. There was human error. He called knock-on by the Sharks. He should have stuck with his original call whether it was right or wrong.’’

As for Abbey being denied by a forward pass, which would have got the Raiders to within four points with 10 minutes remaining, Sutton said: ‘‘Forward passes are subjective [but] I thought the pass was OK.’’

Sutton said he could understand Stuart’s frustrations and added: ‘‘I’m quite disappointed with our performance in the match and we’ll be working hard to ensure we don’t go back there again’’.

Those comments will come as little comfort to the Raiders, who now sit three wins outside the top eight. Raiders boss Don Furner said the financial difference between playing finals football and an early Mad Monday was about $200,000.

‘‘It’s worth much more than a $10,000 fine,’’ Furner said. ‘‘It’s disheartening and financially costly. You miss out on sponsorship bonuses, possible gate takings, prizemoney. Everybody is there to make the semis. There were a few decisions. It sounds like sour grapes with whatever we say. But certain clubs don’t seem to get these calls, but we do.’’
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Staff member
Feb 2, 2013
Time Traveller
In reality the Refs have not stopped Canberra playing finals footie.

Canberra have lost a number of close games by poor options and play - not Refs. They have lost so many games this season against lesser teams - and not because of the Refs.

The Refs have made a couple of decisions that went against the side - but as Bennet said so many times - this happens to all teams - you just have to move on.

Canberra is a team made up of some odd individuals - picked I presume by Sticky. They are players who either play extremely well - or quite poorly - and often have poor "control/temperament" on their behaviour. They cop penalties for this.

To blame the Refs for a season of poor play by the team is hardly fair.