NRL says Manly deserved penalty, but defends bunker's call

The NRL's Head of Elite Competitions Graham Annesley says Manly should have been awarded a penalty for a late push on winger Tevita Funa, but defended the bunker for its handling of the controversial call.

Manly were on Sunday denied the chance to send their game with Newcastle into golden point extra time when the bunker ruled Knights winger Bradman Best's push on Funa did not warrant a penalty, despite it coming after Funa had kicked the ball ahead.

Funa tumbled into Knights winger Tex Hoy and fell over, denying him any chance of chasing through and potentially scoring a try himself.

While it was clear that a penalty try wasn't warranted, Manly certainly believed there was sufficient evidence for the bunker to award a penalty and give them a chance to level the scores at 14-all.

But video referee Jared Maxwell disagreed, and instead ruled no infringement on the part of Best, leaving on-field referee Grant Atkins to blow fulltime and the Sea Eagles players seething.

It will come as cold comfort, but Annesley on Monday admitted he thought the bunker got it wrong.

"The referee refers it to the bunker and he has to take into consideration all that information and he forms the view that Bradman Best was committed to the tackle," Annesley explained in his briefing. "Having looked at it this morning and gone over it again, many times, I form a different a view.

"I think he [Best] did have time to adjust, at least, to prevent the final push and in my view I would have been much happier to see a penalty awarded in that situation, rather than the decision to play on."

Annesley went through the play frame-by-frame in front of the media, showing how there was less than half a second between Funa's kick and the push from Best.

He said he could understand why Maxwell denied the Sea Eagles a penalty and said some referee decisions wouldn't always be black and white.

"It's a very tight thing, less than half a second, but you still have to form a judgement of these things. And the video referee or the bunker has to do it in each of these occasions, they're presented with information, they have to rule based on video footage and camera angles that they have available to them. Jared in this case felt that Best was committed to the tackle and didn't have time to alter the final outcome of the tackle, I think he probably did.

"So it's a difference of opinion and I dare say that there will be plenty of people out there that will agree either way; some will think that it should have been left where it was, others will think that it should have been a penalty.

"But that's the nature of our game; these are judgement calls, they're not black-and-white calls and someone has to make a decision. In this case the bunker made the decision. I just don't happen to agree with the decision that they made in this case."

Manly forward Addin Fonua-Blake was on Monday hit with a contrary conduct charge after he was sent from the field for an ugly slur against referee Atkins following the bunker's decision.

He faces three weeks on the sidelines, or two if he takes the early guilty plea.