Monday Buzz: Fears refs will blow it in finals
We have always feared the NRL premiership would be decided by referees, not players.
The past two weeks have proven this theory to be correct.
Different decisions and different interpretations are made at different venues every week.
On Friday night, the Manly Sea Eagles bowed out of the finals in highly controversial circumstances.
The best defender in the game, Jake Trbojevic, was sin-binned towards the end for a professional foul. It was a debatable decision but probably the correct one.
Souths scored two tries while he was off the field and came from behind to win. They won the penalties 9-3 and were "perfect" for the last 54 minutes, not giving away a penalty.
Des Hasler said his team was dudded. Gus Gould has called for the video referee to be sacked.
Such was the outrage, it was still the most viewed story on our website on Sunday morning, not that Parramatta Eels fans wanted to read about their 32-0 whitewash to the Storm.
No one left ANZ Stadium talking about the footy.
No one on social media was discussing anything but refereeing, despite Cameron Murray producing one of the great individual finals performances for years.
The Trbojevic sin-binning became a major issue because of the previous week, when two Canberra Raiders players did exactly the same thing against Melbourne Storm.
Yet both times their players stayed on the field. As a result, referees Ashley Klein and Chris Sutton were sacked but that didn't help the Storm, who lost a tight game.
They had to back up and play sudden-death football against Parramatta on Saturday night, while the Raiders had the weekend off.
The opportunity to freshen up could be the difference between winning or losing the grand final.
Inconsistency is the problem and has been for 25 rounds of the competition and two weeks of finals.
It is driving fans away from the game. I get dozens of emails every week from long-time fans who have had enough.
The two-referee system does not work. It makes decision-making more confusing.
In the Melbourne v Canberra game, the two referees disagreed on the professional fouls.
Officials in our multi-million-dollar bunker did nothing about it.
On Saturday afternoon, your columnist watched the AFL preliminary final between the GWS Giants and Collingwood at the MCG.
The gripping final quarter was the most magnificent sporting contest as the Magpies stormed home.
Not once were the names of the umpires mentioned. Just desperation football and nothing else mattered.
You switch over to the Storm versus the Eels and again we are talking about the referees.
Cameron Smith was sin-binned for lightly slapping rival hooker Reed Mahoney while trying to free himself. It was a nothing incident. Gus blew up again: "It's a disgrace."
The Storm were ahead 22-0, so it wasn't going to effect the result.
However, like last weekend, it could have.
Earlier, Maika Sivo and Kane Evans shoulder-charged two Storm players. Sivo followed his up with a cheap shot on Ryan Papenhuyzen while he was on the ground.
These were sin-bin offences earlier in the year. Not on Saturday night.
In July, Kalyn Ponga was sin-binned for a shoulder charge. In August, Nathan Brown was binned for a shot on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Sharks prop Andrew Fifita got 10 minutes for a shoulder charge against the Warriors.
Fortunately, the game has a new independent commission chairman in Peter V'landys, who understands the importance of fixing this mess.