The Canterbury Bulldogs are frantically trying to explore appeal options after being informed the NRL will strip 2 competition points from them over a bungled interchange against the Penrith Panthers at the weekend.Â
The NRL confirmed today a breach notice will be sent to the Canterbury club alleging they had 14 men on the field when Ben Robert slid over for the try in the 78th minute of the match.
Veteran kicker Hazem El Masri nailing the conversion to get the Bulldogs home in a 26-24 thriller. Prior to this stripping of Points, the Dogs were sitting atop the NRL 2009 Ladder.
The news crushing the reborn club after a perfect start to the 2009 NRL season with a host of new players under the guidance of rookie coach Kevin Moore.
The blame at this stage seeming to fall on Andrew Ryan, the captain apparently the 14th man culprit.
High angle cameras show Ryan come back on the field of play from the distant touchline at the request of a trainer as no.9 Michael Ennis was being down with an injury complaint.
With Ryan apparently taking up a spot in the attacking line when the try-scoring play with Ennis still on the field.
Bulldogs boss Todd Greenberg confirmed they have received the penalty, but would be looking at avenues of appealing the severity of the penalty.
“We’ve viewed the footage with the NRL and accept that we had 14 players on the field for a short period of time,” said Greenberg in a statement.
“We are now considering our ability to appeal the decision to deduct the Bulldogs of two competition points.
“The loss of points is an extreme punishment and the club will investigate all options to appeal the breach notice.”
The other lose in this is the struggling Penrith Panthers, the club looking to have sewn up the match and now finding out they were victims of a bungled interchange. With allegations suggesting Andrew Ryan was in the attacking line, it certainly made it hard for the Panthers to combat the additional player in the line.
Who knows, with Ryan out of the line – it may have stretched things and may have given the Panthers a slight edge on covering their one on one opponent in each case.
Not since the 2000 NRL season has a club been docked points for bungling interchanges. And in this day and age, it is surprising that errors still occur in this area. With interchange officials and coaching staff nearby, the chances of slipping up must be extremely skinny.
The Cowboys were the last to get docked 9 years ago, while before that Wests in (1975), Souths (1988), Seagulls (1992), Tigers (1993) and Warriors (1995).
The Broncos too were stripped of 2 points in April 2004, but had them re-instated on appeal a month later.
The Bulldogs have five business days to appeal the breach notice, until then they will remain on four competition points.
Regardless of the outcome the Panthers, who were leading the game before the Bulldogs scored with 14 men on the field, will not get awarded the victory or competition points.
Panthers chief executive Michael Leary said the club would accept that decision.
“I just think at that time of the game, I don’t think it had any bearing on the result,” Leary said.
“We’ll just take it as it is.
“In history gone by if a side loses the two points, you don’t get the two points anyway.”
NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said it was clear Ryan was on the field when he shouldn’t have been.
“When the media first raised this matter the speculation was around the Roberts-Ryan interchange,” Annesley said.
“This always appeared to be conducted properly but we could not confirm that until we received extra vision today.
“In the process, however, it became clear that after Andrew Ryan left the field on the far side and was walking away from the play, he then appeared to be called back on by a trainer.
“There are clearly fourteen men on the field when the try is scored.”