Harrigan agrees, Cowboys have been robbed again
HE may not believe in the conspiracy theories, but former top NRL referee Bill Harrigan believes the Cowboys have every right to feel unlucky after exiting another finals campaign following questionable calls.
The former top whistleblower, who refereed 393 games, including 10 grand finals, said two late errors hurt North Queensland's chances in Friday night's dramatic 31-30 loss in Sydney.
Harrigan said the Roosters should not have been given a late stripping penalty, which led to the match-winning field goal, and the Cowboys should have received an obstruction call that would have given them an easy penalty attempt when the score was locked at 30-30.
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"The diehard Cowboys supporters, I feel for them on those two decisions because if either one of those decisions go their way you could end up having an entirely different outcome," he said.
The late penalty was called for a strip on Sonny Bill Williams and the obstruction non-call came when Shaun Kenny-Dowall was running across field in his own territory.
"They give Roosters a penalty for the strip on Sonny Bill and they get the field goal a few plays later, and if the Cowboys get a penalty 30m out they could have had a shot for goal when the scores were 30-30," Harrigan said.
HE AGREED, however, with the video referees' decision not to award a try after halfback Johnathan Thurston crossed the line in the 79th minute and appeared to give his side a match-winning lead.
Harrigan said five-eighth Robert Lui "deadset" knocked the ball forward before Thurston regathered it and sprinted away from Rooster defenders to score.
"The last try was not a try because it was a knock-on," Harrigan said.
"It touches Lui's arm and goes forward - that's my professional opinion."
Sunshine Coast-Gympie Referees Association president Greg Robertson agreed.
"The initial pass comes off his arm and goes forward - that's what I thought when I saw it live and that's what the replay confirmed," he said.
Robertson also agreed that the two late calls went against the visiting team.
"They (the Roosters) got the lucky call on the strip and the obstruction and it's unfortunate, but it's the nature of the game," he said.
It is the third consecutive time the Cowboys have been knocked out of the finals after questionable refereeing, but Harrigan says conspiracy claims are unfounded.
"That's just tough luck," he said. "Especially if anybody's trying to draw a bow with the last try, no. They are not hard done by there.
"If they had of ruled try, if you're a Roosters supporter you'd have every right to jump up and down and say 'you are fair dinkum kidding'."