Hits and Misses: Coaches ripping into the referees

This week we look at coach frustration boiling over, a ding-dong battle heating up for the Queensland fullback jersey, a slightly distracted effort from Latrell Mitchell, and some truly awful Dragons defence.

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


Coaches take pot shots at referees

There were some angry words aimed at the match officials over the weekend, with one coach being careful not to incur a fine, while two others didn't hold back at all.

Firstly, Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters was rightly frustrated by some of the sin bin calls in his team's loss to the Melbourne Storm on Thursday night.

"We came here to play football and I just don't feel we got a game of football," Walters said after the 24-16 loss.

"I'll take the loss, we've lost before. But this is two good teams going at it and it didn't become a game of football.

"We had two guys sin binned. Three guys. It's hard to win when that happens.

"Were they fair sin bins? I won't make any comment because my contract's not big enough to pay the fine."

On Saturday night neither coach was happy with the refereeing, even winning Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart took a crack.

"It was tough. We had to play tough. Especially with having to play a man down for 10 minutes, played with 12 there in a really tight part of the game," Stuart said.

"I think Corey shouldn't have got 10 minutes. I thought that was a poor decision in regards to the sin-binning of Corey. That really put us under pressure.

"Corey Horsburgh pushed a player in the head. Corey got pushed in the head as well, when he was held by the jumper. Latrell Mitchell last week pushed a player to the head twice. Nothing happened, he was allowed to play the ball - we got a player sent to the bin.

"If you're going to change the interpretations around like that it's just crap. You can't change interpretations week to week.

"I feel sorry for the referees because they're the ones under pressure when the interpretations keep getting changed every week. I don't know who's telling them.

"Why this week when you push someone in the head you get 10 minutes in the bin and put us under pressure as a team."

Losing Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur felt his side had no chance against what he saw as one-sided refereeing.

"Nothing went our way. Nothing went our way," Arthur said

"It's very hard to come down here to Canberra especially when you get a 10-3 penalty count against you.

"We contributed to a few things, not getting enough kicks in and good ball, especially in the second half.

"I don't know what more I can say to the boys, I thought they were stiff. We can't be the best in the competition with our discipline and then get penalised 10 times tonight."

"We can't be told that we've got great compliance by the referees, and then we get penalised ten times. It can't happen.

"I'm never saying anything about the refereeing but I think tonight we were hard done by."


Queensland enjoying a healthy battle for fullback role

The battle for the Queensland fullback jersey hit new highs in Round 11, with Reece Walsh everywhere on Thursday night for the Broncos in their loss to the Storm and Kalyn Ponga reasserting his claim with a withering display of attacking football against the Titans on Sunday.

Unfortunately for all the promise and flair shown by Walsh, there is still an element of immaturity in some of his decisions. He is certainly more diamonds than rocks at the moment, but some of his rocks would likely lose an Origin if repeated at the highest level. The difficult thing with a player of his overwhelming natural talent is that you can kill off all that is good if you try to reel in that adventurous style. He is the kind of player, at least at this stage of his development, who has to make an error or two as he provides you with five or six other moments of magic.

Ponga is the more established, more experienced star of the game. Of late he has struggled to cope with his concussion issues and the adaptations he has had to make to his game to protect himself, particularly in defence. But, against the Titans, he reminded everyone of how devastating he too can be with the ball, with a degree or two less riskiness involved.

It will be interesting to see what the Queensland selectors do, but either way they have an attacking weapon capable of causing the Blues' defence many a nightmare. If they can somehow manage to find a way to have both players involved, the Maroons will be very hard to stop.


Mitchell more concerned with broadcast opportunity

The Tigers put up a gallant effort for most of their clash with the Rabbitohs, before a few late tries pushed the score up towards where most expected it to be.

Latrell Mitchell had one of his quieter days with the ball, but it was revealed during the Fox Sports coverage that he was carrying a microphone for the broadcaster. According to teammates after the game Mitchell didn't shut up for the entire 80 minutes for something he has referred to as "Trellevision". He did manage to focus on his footy long enough to crash over for a try with six minutes remaining, placating all those punters who would have had him as an anytime try scorer.

Of course it would have been done with full club approval, perhaps a bit disrespectfully considering they were only playing the lowly Tigers. Still, I would have thought that Latrell, with an unwanted reputation for fading in and out of games, would want to be fully focussed on his football performance, particularly with Origin selection coming up.


Tricky expertly plans Eels defeat

Ricky Stuart found the perfect formula for beating the Eels in Canberra on Saturday night, preying on Clint Gutherson's positional weaknesses with a shrewd short kicking game.

The Raiders scored two converted tries after the break to take a 20-8 lead, both through grubber kicks into the in-goal area. The first was so sharply executed that Gutherson had little hope of stopping it. It came from dummy-half where Tom Starling stood, took a shuffle to his left and threaded the ball through the advancing line from two metres out. Hudson Young timed his run to perfection to pour through and dive on the ball.

The second effort saw halfback Jamal Fogerty put a grubber kick in from 10 metres out to have fullback Sebastian Kris tear past him to ground the ball. Gutherson was caught heading left to where he assumed Fogerty would pass the ball. Fogerty simply straightened the play to catch the fullback out.


Dragons defence awful one day, pitiful the next

The Dragons problems were summed up in the 27th minute of their clash with the Cowboys with a try that never should have been scored. On the last tackle, five metres out from the Dragons line, the Cowboys wanted to go left, but the fast-moving defence caused dummy-half Reuben Cotter to scramble before dropping a pass out the back to Reece Robson.

Robson threw to ball to Heilum Luki who stood with four Dragons defenders in front of him. He brushed off the first, winger Mathew Feagai, the next two centre Max Feagai and five-eighth Talatau Amone collided around his legs, knocking each other off and Jack Bird, defending at fullback, didn't lay a hand on him as he dived over to score.

Max Feagai had another chance to stop Luki in the second half, but his feeble one-on-one tackle was brushed aside as the Cowboys backrower crossed to notch his double. It has long been said that good defence is all about attitude and right now the attitudes of most of the Dragons players absolutely stink.