EVEN after two weeks, the debate is still raging over the referee and touch judges' decision to disallow a try to Northern United's Roy Bell against the Grafton Ghosts in the qualifying semi-final at Frank McGuren Field.
Trailing 30-28 with 10 left on the clock, the Northern United fullback put up a towering bomb, chased his own kick, regathered and scored under the posts.
But after a discussion by the touch judges and referee, Northern United's celebrations were cut short, much to the anger of the Dirawong supporters.
The Examiner has been inundated with phone calls and emails questioning the referee's decision, so we decided to review the actual footage to clear up the matter.
Furthermore, the Examiner contacted NRL match review committee chairman and former first grade referee Greg McCallum for the correct ruling.
After gathering all the evidence, the Examiner can reveal the officials made a huge blunder, which in the end could have cost the Dirawongs a crack at Murwillumbah in the major-semi final.
According to McCallum:
1. If any Northern United players were in front of the play-the-ball when Bell kicked “downtown” and then got involved in the play, then it is a no-try. They are deemed offside.
2. However, if the Northern players were behind the play-the-ball (which was the case) and in front of the kicker (Bell), if Bell passes them while chasing his own kick (which was also the case) then it is deemed a try. In the second instance, players encroaching inside the 10-metre area from the Ghosts' player attempting to diffuse the bomb mattered little.
A source within the NRRRL revealed the referee was set to award the try to Bell until his touch judge intervened and overruled his decision.
With the final to be played tomorrow and the grand final the following week, let's hope the officials brush up on the rules to avoid another blunder like the Bell no-try.
Northern United plays Murwillumbah tomorrow at Stan Sercombe Oval Murwillumbah in the NRRRL final, with the winner advancing to the grand final.
The Mustangs have an imposing record against Northern this year, with two wins from as many games played.