Manly coach Trent Barrett has unloaded on the NRL referees following his side’s 16-8 loss to Penrith, accusing them of denying his side a chance to compete for the two points.
Barrett was filthy after his side was on the wrong end of a 14-4 penalty count at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night, leaving their five-game winning streak snapped.
“I’m so proud of the players. Their goal-line defence was outstanding. It’s something we can really hang our hat on,” Barrett said.
“We’ll walk out of here feeling pretty good about themselves. We played in circumstances where we couldn’t win when some of the things went against us.”
The win keeps Penrith’s flickering finals hopes alive but will be best remembered for Barrett’s post-game spray in which he flirted with a fine for criticising the whistleblowers.
The Sea Eagles – who will remain in fourth despite the loss – were rarely given a chance to compete as they had just 44 per cent of possession, were forced to make 49 more tackles and had just 24 tackles inside the opposition 20m zone compared with Penrith’s 59.
When asked about the performance of referees Henry Perenara and Chris James and the bunker, Barrett said: “What do you say? I’ve never seen anything like it. Ever.”
The turning point came when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was awarded a try in the 37th minute despite suggestions he had taken the ball from the hands of teammate Waqa Blake and lost control as he planted the ball.
Penrith then carried a 12-4 lead into half-time and hung on to victory thanks to two Nathan Cleary penalty goals.
However, the Panthers failed to receive the rub of the green when Watene-Zelezniak was denied a four-pointer in the 59th minute when Corey Harawira-Naera was ruled to have knocked the ball into Matthew Wright, with replays suggesting it was went backwards.
“I thought the one (Watene-Zelezniak’s no-try) with 15 minutes to go was tinged with more controversy,” Penrith coach Anthony Griffin said.
“That’s just the roll of the dice with the way the game’s officiated these days when it goes to the bunker.”
The Sea Eagles will be sweating on the release of the match review committee findings after Frank Winterstein appeared to shoulder-charge Cleary as the Panthers No.7 booted the ball down the field.