He’s been hanging on by a thread for most of the NRL 2008 season, but NRL referee Ben Cummins is set to cop more heat this week after his hammering of the Cronulla Sharks in their game against the Bunnies at the weekend. While Sharks coach Ricky Stuart hasn’t singled out Cummins for criticism, many that watched the match felt the locals were dealt a harsh hand on more than one occasion and surely Referee’s boss Robert Finch must wield the axe over the Cummins this week.
While Stuart was obviously furious regarding the penalty count after his side’s 28-14 win over Souths his side on the wrong end of a 11-1 penalty count at half-time. He said feelings would have been totally different had the poor refereeing performance cost his side the victory.
Stuart did not single out Cummins for criticism but said he was disappointed the use of referee tip sheets, on which referees were supposedly given particular aspects of a player or team’s game to crack down on, was possibly a distraction to officials.
Finch denied tip sheets were used, saying Stuart was referring to a review of the referees’ performance that both teams and referees received each week.
“It’s not a tip sheet, it’s a review of the referee’s performance which every coach, every week gets,” Finch said.
“It’s a review to say `yeah, this referee got this decision right, that referee got that decision wrong’.
“It’s more or less a check for them (coaches) as well to fix up areas in their game that we believe in the debrief came up.
“So to call it a â€˜`tip sheet’ when it suits you is probably a little bit disappointing.
“You can call it what you like but that’s not what it is.”
The Sharks were repeatedly penalised around the ruck and did not receive their first penalty until late in the first half at Toyota Stadium.
They only conceded one penalty in the second half, though, with the count improving to 12-6 by the end of the game.
Finch, who will review Cummins’ performance, said teams also needed to take responsibility for their own discipline.
“The bottom line of it all is the referee on occasion does have issues but so does the discipline of football teams in general,” Finch said.
Stuart was angry post-match and said he would have been willing to cop a $10,000 fine for criticising the referee if his team had lost the match.
“It’d cost me a lot of money if we had have got beaten because I would’ve unloaded,” Stuart said.
“That could have lost us the game.
“… It (refereeing) is a tough job, but they’re making it tougher for themselves by having these stupid tip sheets.
“They pick a couple of little things in the game previously which they ‘so-call’ review and they knit-pick their way through a game.”
The win moved Cronulla into a share of the competition lead while it ended any slim hope Souths may have had of making the finals.