NZ Warriors hardman Adam Blair insists his team must be good enough to take whistle-blowers out of play, after a series of refereeing blunders almost cost them victory against Newcastle Knights on Saturday.
The Auckland-based NRL side largely dominated their road clash against the Origin-depleted home side, but found themselves trailing in the dying moments, before clinching a 24-20 win with a last-gasp try to prop Sam Lisone.
Afterwards, coach Stephen Kearney took umbrage to refereeing calls that kept the Knights in the contest and sure enough, NRL football manager Graham Annesley confirmed that three decisions, in particular, were wrong.
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In the first half, referees claimed Blair had stripped the ball from Knights half Mason Lino in a tackle and allowed play to continue, resulting in a Newcastle try to centre Sione Mata'utia.
Late in the game, Warriors wing Ken Maumalo appeared to have crossed in the corner for his third try of the match, but video officials overruled the on-field call.
And the Knights took the lead with 10 minutes remaining, when referees overlooked a head injury to Warriors centre Peta Hikua and Mata'utia took advantage of the undermanned defensive line to score his second try.
In his weekly briefing, Annesley admitted all these decisions against the Warriors were incorrect.
But Blair isn't pointing the finger at the officials, instead putting the onus back on his teammates to play to the whistle.
"There have been a lot of those calls throughout the season, with other teams as well," he mused. "Luckily, we did enough to take the two points and take the refs out of the game.
"For us, as a team, it frustrates you, but we have to be able to control that frustration out on the field, because there's still a job to do.
"That's the lessons we've learnt through the season - when things aren't going our way, just talk about it, flush it out and move one."
Notwithstanding the faulty calls, Blair admitted the six-win/nine-loss Warriors were almost the architects of their own demise, but managed to pull themselves back from the brink of another defeat.
"There were a couple of moments there - the Mason one and the Peta Hiku one - where we probably clocked off, because we thought the ref was going to stop it," he said.
"You're obviously frustrated and I was involved in that [Lino] - he told me I stripped the ball and clearly I didn't. For me, it was frustrating, but it was about learning those lessons and competing until the ref actually makes a call."
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