NRL 2019: The big calls that went against the Warriors in 2019

Following the NZ Warriors' 24-22 loss to the Parramatta Eels, there was an uproar after many controversial calls went against the Kiwi side. This impacted the result and had implications in the race to the top eight.  

The outcome led to more claims referees are biased towards teams playing the Warriors. Some stats may back that up, although that's not to say the Warriors haven't benefited from calls themselves during the 2019 season. 

After each round, NRL head of football elite competitions, Graham Annesley, holds a briefing where he runs through some statistics. He also discusses some of the significant moments from matches creating the most headlines. 

Not everything is discussed, so there are some calls that may or may not have benefited the Warriors throughout the season. So the numbers may vary if you go through every little incident. 

An example of this is two tries the Cronulla Sharks scored from forward passes. Annesley didn't bring this up in his briefing, but Stepehn Kearney confirmed he recieve a phone call from the NRL over the issue after the Eels defeat. 

NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley.
NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley. Photo credit: AAP

On Monday, Annesley listed five calls from the Eels game, with three going against the Warriors while one went in their favour.  

The other, he sat on the fence. 

As a result, Annesley will meet with Warriors chief executive Cameron George ahead of their game against the Canberra Raiders on Friday. 

George told Newshub they would discuss errors highlighted in the Parramatta game, and other refereeing errors throughout the season.

And there have been plenty of Warriors' mentions during Annesley's briefings and Newshub has gone through all of to see which calls were right and which were wrong. 

Overall, Annesley has deemed in 2019 there have been nine on-field calls which went against the Warriors, which he believes were the wrong decision, compared to four decisions have benefited the Warriors, while there are two where he sits on the fence or agrees with the on-field decision.

Round 1 v Bulldogs - Wrong call made on David Fusitu'a in mid-air tackle 


Warriors winger Fusitu'a was tackled mid-air by opposite number, Christian Crichton trying to catch an attacking kick. The referees' allowed play to continue, but Annesley feels a penalty should have been awarded. 

Christian Crichton tackles David Fusitu'a in the air.
Christian Crichton tackles David Fusitu'a in the air. Photo credit: Photosport

"The laws of the game allowed a defending player to tackle an attacking player in mid-air, that's been the rule for some time and different to the reserve situation," explained Annesley. 

"I think that should have resulted in a penalty kick, but the referee decided it wasn't dangerous. That was his judgement on the day, but I don't agree with that." 

Round 3 v Sea Eagles - Correct call made during Warriors play-the-ball as siren sounds 


The Warriors were looking for a quick play-the-ball for one more play before halftime, and they were fuming as the referees blew their whistle as Adam Keighran tried doing so. 

Upon review, Annesley praised the match officials for making the right call. 

"In order for play to continue, he [Keighran] would have had to peel the ball back to dummy half, before the clock hit 40," said Annesley.

"When there are five seconds left, the timekeepers count them down to the referees, and the reason they do that is you can't always hear the siren immediately at some venues.

"We can't allow the game to continue once the clock expires. The timekeeper will communicate with the referees. The ball isn't in play till it goes backwards." 

Round 7 v Storm - Warriors wrongly penalised during quick play-the-ball 


Isaiah Papali'i was penalised as Jesse Bromwich was looking for a quick play-the-ball, which resulted in the Storm tying the game up with a penalty, before winning the game with a field goal minutes later. 

Annesley felt the Warriors should have been given a scrum as Bromwich didn't give Papali'i enough time to release after being tackled, although he admitted it was a marginal call. 

Graham Annesley feels Jesse Bromwich knocked the ball on.
Graham Annesley feels Jesse Bromwich knocked the ball on. Photo credit:

"The question for the referees to decide is, 'were the tacklers too slow to get off? Or did the player in possession try and play the ball to quickly?'," quizzed Annesley.

"We've looked at it a few times, and on balance that probably the play-the-ball was too quick before the defence had time to release.

"The referees have to determine whether the error was caused by Bromwich trying to play-the-ball, or if the defenders had time to release. 

"On balance, we think a scrum would have been a better outcome; It's a no-win situation for the match officials."  

Round 13 v Storm - Warriors awarded scrum when play should have continued


With seconds left in the game, Storm forward Brandon Smith was called for a knock-on after the restart, and due to the time remaining, Annesley thought play should not have stopped as it ultimately prolonged the contest. 

"It was late in the game and had no impact on the result. It went through the hands of the catcher and behind him and ruled a knock-on," said Annesly. 

"If you review each game each week, you'll see lots of these incidents. "There is a 'knockback' rule, and the referees can be reluctant to use their judgement at times. 

"I understand they don't want to miss knock-ons and the reluctance to play on when the ball hits the deck, but it is in the laws of the game. It is another stoppage we don't need, and throughout the season there are multiple stoppages which could have been avoided."  

Round 15 v Panthers - Three wrong decisions, one against the Warriors two against the Panthers


There were three game-changing calls made during the clash, with the first being that Panthers forward was allowed to return to the field nearly "100s early" from the sin-bin. 

The other two benefited the Warriors when Fusitu'a was awarded a try despite his hand being in touch, while Panthers utility Jarome Luai was sin-binned for a professional foul, but the play shouldn't have gone that far.

On Martin sin-binning: "We've looked into that, and we determined he did come back between 90-100s early.  We don't have an exact time on it because we don't have direct access to the sin-bin time clock, but my estimates are nearly 100 seconds early," said Annesly. 

"The ground manager became award after he returned to the field and there was no future action. We're reviewing it further, but we have to make sure this doesn't happen again.'

David Fusitu'a was awarded a try despite his hand being out of play.
David Fusitu'a was awarded a try despite his hand being out of play. Photo credit: Getty

On Fusitu'a try: "On one angle, as the ball is being forced, his body is over the touchline, and nothing has contact with the ground. But on another, you can see his hand hits the ground before the ball.

"You can see why that was missed in the first instance, but there was enough evidence for the video official to make that decision correctly." 

On Luai sin-binning: "You can see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck drops the ball and it hits the ground; so its a knock-on and what happens afterwards is irrelevant.

"Given its not a try-scoring situation, it not should have been a professional foul which resulted in a sin-bin."  

Round 16 v Knights - Three more incidents all against the Warriors 


The biggest talking point from this game was how the match was allowed to resume when Peta Hiku was on the ground concussed, leading to a Newcastle try. 

On top of that, the Knights' first try was scored from a knock-on, while the bunker overruled a try to Ken Maumalo despite the evidence not being conclusive enough. 

As a result, Gavin Badger and Adam Gee were demoted from refereeing in the NRL the following week. 

On Hiku incident: "The referees were aware that he had suffered a head knock, they were aware that he was on the ground and they should have stopped play at that tackle before the play-the-ball. They had time to do that," said Annesly. 

"[Referee Gavin Badger] said 'watch him', in other words 'keep an eye on him' but that is not good enough. That is saying 'I have identified that there is an issue there so keep an eye on him'. 

"Well, keep an eye on him is not the right answer. Stop the game and have him assessed is the right answer." 

On Knights knock-on which led to try: "In our view, that's a loose carry [by Mason Lino]. It's not a strip. There was no deliberate attempt to strip the ball.

"It was the fifth tackle. He was trying to get ready to release the ball - it should have been a knock-on, not six again."

Ken Maumalo was denied a hat-trick despite the referee awarded a try.
Ken Maumalo was denied a hat-trick despite the referee awarded a try. Photo credit: Getty

On bunker disallowing Maumaolo try: "You can see the fingers on the ball... the fingers are spread on the ball. I think, post-match, in anyone's view of that, it's a try.

"There's an angle taken from further infield looking back. Admittedly, it's not as clear, but it's irrelevant - this angle, which was the first angle the video referee looked at, clarifies that this was a try." 

Round 19 v Eels - More controversy, largely against the Warriors


There were five talking points to come from this game. One of which benefited the Warriors, while three went against them, with Annesley reluctant to comment on the forward pass from Tuivasa-Sheck to Gerard Beale. 

The two biggest talking points were the penalty on Chanel Harris-Tavita and the strip on Beale which wasn't penalised. 

As a result of all these errors, all four match officials from this contest were demoted. 

On Issac Luke scoring from knock-on: "There is a hand which interviews, which goes forward. It comes off the fingers on top the outside player. It's a minor touch, but it is a knock-on," said Annesly. 

On Harris-Tavita penalised for strip in second half: "The play where Harris-Tavita was penalised for a strip: that was a legal strip, and that should not have been penalised, to compound that error Parramatta score off the ensuing set."

A pass from Dylan Brown came off Blake Green, but then propelled forward off the Eels five-eighth.
A pass from Dylan Brown came off Blake Green, but then propelled forward off the Eels five-eighth. Photo credit:

On Eels score try after Harris-Tavita penalty from knock-on:  "A slower look showed after [Blake ]Green knocks it backwards, and the ball did in fact touch [Dylan] Brown's hand after the fact, so should have been a knock-on and no try.

On Beale getting stripped in three-person tackle: "There was no penalty that resulted from that strip. The Warriors were entitled, in my view, to a penalty there which would have taken them down the other end of the field with 13 minutes to go. 

"No guarantee what would have happened from that, but we had two significant errors by the match officials in relation to stripping incidents that have been costly in the overall context of the game."

On Tuivasa-Sheck's pass to Beale: "I generally try to avoid talking about alleged forward passes as they can be so close and hard to call, and we could debate it for a long time. I honestly could not tell you if it was forward or not and there is the problem with trying to use the video referee to rule on forward passes, I think that decision will always divide opinion." 


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