The NRL’s refereeing crisis went from bad to worse on Friday night, after a ridiculous sin-binning of Brisbane backrower Matt Gillett for an offside call that Phil Gould labelled “the greatest clanger I’ve ever seen”.
After Benji Marshall restarted from a penalty and sprinted towards the Brisbane defence where he was tackled by Justin Hodges, referee Ben Cummins called Gillett offside — even though he had retired almost 30m back after Marshall’s quick tap.
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TV replays showed Gillett was onside from the restart — and Marshall’s long run put all the home players onside.
As a result, Gillett was made to sit out 10 minutes of the game, during which the Dragons scored three tries to get back into the must-win game, which will make or break both sides’ season.
Calling the game for the Nine Network, Phil Gould was among those outraged, calling Cummins’s decision “the greatest clanger I’ve ever seen”.
Interviewed on the field after the full-time siren, Gillett admitted he got an apology from Cummins when he returned to the field:
“I have no idea [why I was sin-binned],” Gillett said. “When I came back on the ref said sorry to me but I have no idea.
Broncos coach, Anthony Griffin was more circumspect after his team sealed the crucial victory.
“I would have been shaking my head harder if we didn’t win,” he said. “The officials later approached me to apologise.
“We all realise he made a mistake, I would fix it I would but I don’t have that authority. I’m just glad it didn’t cost us our season.”
After a season in which refereeing standards have come under increasing scrutiny, the reaction from NRL fans on social media wasn’t much more forgiving.