Video referee Steve Clark has possibly made the worst video referee decision of all time, incorrectly ruling no-try to the Bulldogs, allowing the Dragons to scrape home 20-18 in a thriller tonight at WIN Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah.
It was a tight, hard fought match that everyone expected, with the Dragons having near 70% possession in the first half but unable to run away on the scoreboard with the Dogs defending stoutly.
Boosted by a strong home crowd the Dragons threw everything at the Bulldogs in the first half, with Neville Costigan and Ben Creagh having strong games to give their team plenty of field position.
When the Bulldogs got even a glimpse of possession, they looked disjointed and nervous. While their attack was working well, they just couldn’t hold the ball – let alone make any inroads into the Dragons.
As the match wore on, Dragons prop Justin Poore begun to put his stamp on the game – making big metres and eventually getting over for a key try midway through the second half.
As the possession stakes evened up, the Bulldogs began to tally some points. Rookie centre Jamaal Idris was extremely strong on the fringes, busting tackles and proving a handful.
Opposite Idris, for the Dragons – Sailor was solid without being overly impressive.
With the Dragons leading for the most of the game, you always felt they had enough in them to get home. The Bulldogs were struggling after losing Brett Kimmorley to the sin-bin for a professional foul and limping along after consistent injuries to impressive prop Ben Hennant.
But some home, the Dogs just kept toiling. Scrimping and scraping, annoying the Dragons and frustrating them into errors.
Even after Justin Poore scored for the home side to get them 8 points clear, the Dogs refused to give in. They came back to score a try and get within 2 points of St George Illawarra.
With minutes to go, some poor kicking options from Michael Ennis looked to have spoiled things for the Bulldogs, but again they refused to lay down.
The Dragons were beginning to clock off with less than 2 minutes on the clock. They struggled to hit the ball up out of their red zone and with strong pressure from dummy half, the Dragons could only manage a short kick that failed to find touch.
The Bulldogs pounced, Patten fielding the ball and starting a strong run to cut through the Dragons defence. Patten beat several defenders as he went on a 25m run, eventually offloading to Idris who would go the remaining 15m to score an amazing try with only seconds on the clock.
Many felt it was game over. The Bulldogs scoring, the scores should have been 22-20 to the Dogs with a kick to come.
But the video referee was called upon after Dragons players complained of interference to Jamie Soward in the lead up to the try.
In real-time, several viewers had commented that they felt their was a collision between Soward and the ‘floating’ Eastwood, but after slow motion replays it was crystal clear that Soward had deliberately played for a penalty.
After several replays, you got the feeling the video referee was being suckered into the call. You got nervous that somehow he would get the call wrong.
Sadly, Steve Clark did just that. He got it all totally wrong, supposedly reading too much into the milking play by Soward to rule no-try to the Dogs.
Commentators and spectators alike were silenced for a period before erupting in protest. The crowd beginning to toss missiles onto the field as Bulldogs players pled for calm.
It was truly a classic game of high quality football. Sadly, the video referee intervened and made an incorrect call to spoil the finish.
The plucky Dragons have done well to get away with this one and full credit to them, they were the best side for the majority of the match and their season continues along nicely.
For the Bulldogs, while they remain at the heady end of the NRL Points Ladder, they will feel once again they were robbed in an NRL match. Already stripped of 2 points forÂ a bungled interchange, they have again been hard done by.
Who knows, all these setbacks may just have them even better prepared for what seems like a finals bound season.