The NRL admits referee Matt Cecchin was wrong to award a decisive penalty to Melbourne in the Storm's clutch Anzac Day win over the Warriors, but is refusing to drop the experienced whistleblower.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said Cecchin should have called for a scrum and award the Warriors the feed, after a messy Jesse Bromwich play-the-ball with four minutes on the clock.
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With the Warriors up 12-10, Bromwich made a mess of the play-the-ball, as Adam Blair and Isaiah Papali'i held onto his back, before dummy-half Cameron Smith knocked the ball on.
Stephen Kearney's side were pinged, after they were ruled to have held Bromwich down too long.
Cameron Munster booted the ensuing penalty, before a Brodie Croft field goal saved the Storm's blushes against an undermanned Warriors.
But Annesley said the call should have gone the Warriors' way, after Bromwich failed to get to his feet.
"The real decision is did he try to play the ball before the defenders had a time to release or were the defenders interfering in the play-the-ball by holding on too long?" Annesley said.
"It's a very difficult decision. We ultimately thought a scrum would have been a better outcome.
"It's a very difficult one and in the context of the game, I can understand why there is a degree of controversy around the penalty."
Asked about the incident, Kearney described it as "disappointing".
Annesley said despite his opinion that Cecchin had erred, he said he would hold his place and referee a NRL game this weekend.
"If you moved this into the first 10 minutes of the first half of the game, it probably doesn't even rate a mention," Annesley said. "In the context of the game, it's a massive call.
"You can't hang the referees on that outcome, when you look at what they're confronted with."
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