[Footy whinge follows, skip if you're not interested ;)]
A hard and close loss for the Broncos today (Knights home in cliffhanger - League - Fox Sports). It certainly didn't help my opinion of NRL referees. It's the close ones where it's most obvious the effect a referee can have on a game; and Tony Archer should have just pulled on a blue and red jersey.
Obviously there is nothing to say the Broncos would have won if certain calls had gone differently. It's just incredibly galling to see a close match won by a dodgy penalty goal.
There were three crunch points that really got decided by Archer; passages of play turned by his calls:
- With the Broncos attack nearing the tryline, Archer mistakenly calls 4th Tackle and Webcke goes to ground with the ball. The turnover pushes play well back in Newcastle's favour, then moments later a dodgy penalty gives Newcastle a prime chance to score a try. Nobody can ever criticise the ref for fucking up the count though, if you criticise you get fined. There is no accountability.
- Later there's a bullshit penalty against Lockyer for a "high tackle" - for any other team the ref would say "his arm bounced off the ball" or "around the chest". I've seen endless high tackles on Broncos players explained away (think of David Stagg's season, for example). So anyway it's a gift two points for the Knights, putting them into the lead and ultimately winning the game for them.
- With the Broncos just metres from the line there's a one-on-one strip just before a second player arrives. It's a close call, so naturally the ref calls play back; preventing the Broncos from regaining the lead.
There's a stack of other moments throughout the game where the ref pushed close calls to Newcastle. About the only bit of luck to go the Broncos' way was when he missed Tate's knock on... even the Broncos get some luck once in a blue moon ;) Fate balanced that out though when the ref missed a dropped ball by the Knights.
So anyway, there's always next week :) We're coming up on the Origin series too; hopefully the two byes around the same time will help the Broncos get through without too many injuries from rep footy. Thankfully with the Cowboys in such hot form, the Broncos probably won't be supplying half the Origin team this year. Plus there are plenty of young guys coming through with everything to prove, the so-called Baby Broncos are hardly a team to dismiss.