NRL Hits and Misses: The most diabolical end to a game ever

Round 19 of the NRL has come to an end in the most controversial of fashions, with Wests Tigers simply robbed of a hard-fought victory in Townsville, while elsewhere we saw some magic from Api and Daly.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


MISSES

In the words of Geoff Toovey, there needs to be an investigation

We have all witnessed some howlers in recent times, but what happened to the Tigers yesterday tops the lot as far as drama and clear cut absurdity.

It seems Ashley Klein doesn't even need a whistle in his mouth to negatively influence a good game of rugby league. From the bunker he was able to break Tigers hearts with a ridiculous call, one he should never have been asked to make.

The Tigers had just completed an incredible last minute fightback, scoring the second of two late tries in a sweeping move from halfway. It was the miracle underdog victory every neutral fan loves to see, and after such a difficult season it was a bright point the Tigers players and fans deserved.

The Tigers were ahead by just one point as Adam Doueihi used up his allotted time, but missed the conversion from out wide. Somehow the clock showed there was still one second of match time remaining as the Cowboys teed the ball up for a short kick off. The referee signaled time on, the ball was kicked high and the siren sounded as only two Cowboys really took off in pursuit. Kyle Feldt was one of them and he charged through straight into the back of Tigers centre Asu Kepaoa who was headed in the same direction. The ball was taken safely by Tigers fullback Daine Laurie and he was tackled as the Tigers players celebrated the win.

We then had the inexplicable situation of Cowboys captain Chad Townsend challenging a non-call. There had been no refereeing decision made for them to challenge. The referee and Tigers captain James Tamou were then involved in the wrong argument over whether the Cowboys still had their challenge, and once that was established the fiasco was passed to the bunker for Klein to work his magic.

Two hours after the game an NRL spokesman defended to call to go to the bunker.

"Although the referee had blown his whistle to stop the game after the last tackle was completed as time had expired, he had not yet called fulltime," he said. "The whole concept of the captain's challenge is to make sure any decision by the referee that stops the game can be reviewed.

"To not do so would effectively deny a team the right to have an officiating error corrected."

As the commentators and viewers at home watched replays of an innocuous collision between two players heading towards the same point on the field, Klein indicated that Kepaoa had veered sideways to impede Feldt, preventing him from reaching the contest for the ball. There it was, our lying eyes had failed us once again. The all-seeing, all-knowing oracle hiding in a bunker had once again manufactured a decision that would astound, anger and completely frustrate everyone who saw it.

Well, not everyone of course. Those who tipped the Cowboys in their hotly contested office tipping competitions were relieved. Those that support or are part of the Cowboys organisation were delighted and let's not forget those who had invested small to enormous sums of money on what was seen as a sure bet.

Matches should be decided on the field and when the fate of a team rests on decisions, and millions of dollars are involved in the outcome of a game, incidents like this should be thoroughly investigated, and not just by Graham Annesley.

Raging bulls kept well apart

Footy fans have good memories, with the Bulldogs crowd ripping into Tino Fa'asuamaleaui every time he was involved in play on Sunday. Matt Burton has deservedly become a crowd favourite at the club and Timo's efforts to hold him during the Origin decider while Dane Gagai threw haymakers at him weren't appreciated.

In the aftermath of the Origin brawl, Bulldogs forward Tevita Pangai Junior indicated he would be looking for a square up when next he met Tino. Perhaps to protect him from his own potential for mayhem, coach Michael Potter decided to start Pangai Junior from the bench. Still when he did finally make it onto the field the pair came together as Pangai Jnr ran the ball out from a kick-off. Tino attempted to stop his charge with a shoulder, but deflected off before there was the obligatory push and shove session.

Tino was soon off to the bench for a rest, as Titans coach Justin Holbrook must have wanted to avoid playing any portion of the game with 12 men. After that, the paths of these two fired-up individuals seemed to cross more often on their way on and off the field.

Bulldogs back-rower Corey Wadell foolishly took it upon himself to hand out some justice and could be in trouble for what appeared to sail awfully close to being an eye gouge. The the match review committee has ordered him to plead his case before the judiciary, with eye gouging long considered one of the worst offences in the book.

In the end the Bulldogs exacted the best form of revenge, in a solid, high-scoring victory.

Quick Miss - How does Sharks forward Dale Finucane receive a possible three-week ban for a head clash that wasn't even deemed a penalty during the game? The collision looked ugly, Stephen Crichton's torn ear looked terrible, and players should be held accountable for causing contact to the head with any part of their body, as they are in rugby union. But the rule needs to be altered to include head clashes and it needs to be adjudicated consistently, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to a gruesome injury.


HITS

Pure Cherry-Evans magic

With 20 minutes remaining in the first half and Manly under all sorts of pressure on their own line trailing 12-0, we saw an audacious piece of Daly Cherry-Evans brilliance. A wayward pass from dummy half found Cherry-Evans a metre out from his line, the defence closing in, and the outcome almost certain to involve his burial in the in-goal area. In a flash of genius, he perfectly executed a kick which hit his left winger on the fly 20 metres downfield with the precision of a quarterback's pass to a wide receiver.

It was a tough start for Manly, with the home team having all the territorial advantage, and another Dragons try would have been completely crushing at that point. It wasn't all good for Cherry-Evans, because ten minutes later he found himself again with the ball just metres from his line and this time ran upright into a three-man tackle. The Dragons almost claimed a try as they marched him back over the try line where the ball came loose.

Despite Cherry-Evan's best efforts, the Dragons were too good for the Sea Eagles and have raised serious doubts over whether Manly will be playing finals football this season.

Api's slight-of-hand too slick for Sharks

With the Sharks outperforming the Panthers in the torrential rain of Penrith, Apisai Koroisau stepped up for the home team with a bit of slight-of-hand magic. Five metres out from the Sharks line, with five minutes before the break, he looked to put in a grubber kick from dummy half. His deception was complete with his eyes looking towards where he was going to kick it and the ball momentarily leaving his hands towards his boot. It was enough to make Nicho Hynes hesitate and turn inwards, as Koroisau pulled the ball back and passed it wide to Jarome Luai. From there it was a draw and pass to Izack Tago to open the Panthers scoring.

From there the Panthers were able to run down a 10-0 deficit to beat the Sharks 20-10. Despite the final result, it was an impressive effort from the Sharks which shows they will be competitive in the finals. However, they will need to find something extra to take the title from these Panthers.

It's a tough game

Just one look at the slow motion replay of Justin Olam's hit on Cody Walker ten minutes into the Storm's clash with the Rabbitohs and you're left thinking that there has to be an easier way to make a living. Walker had just received the ball from his left when Olam jammed in, burying his shoulder into an exposed rib cage. Olam's hit was perfectly legal, as he wrapped both arms around in taking the Souths veteran to ground.

Walker was left on his haunches, desperately trying to re-inflate his screaming lungs. His ribs well and truly rattled, he was able to rejoin the game with his team leading 6-0. As sore and as sorry as he might be today, the Rabbitohs victory over the Storm should well and truly ease the pain