Origin penalty count a reffing mess
BY half-time Wednesday night's game was tracking to be the most penalised State pf Origin match in history.
Remarkably, in the second half, the whistle was virtually non-existent.
The decider turned into a penalty-a-thon early with referee's Ashley Klein and Gerard Sutton taking centre stage. The duo were under-fire in the lead-up to the game before keeping their places.
Twelve penalties had already been blown as the clock ticked over the 27-minute mark, which had the pair on track to get near the all-time record of 26 penalties in an Origin match which has happened four times - the last in 1983.
It was the most penalties in a first half of Origin in 23 years and just two short of the all-time half record of 15 in game two in 1995.
In the end, the match finished with 14 penalties, with just one infringement blown in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
The stop-start nature of the first half meant the ball was only in play for 26 minutes.
It prompted Queensland legend Paul Vautin to pose the question of the referees on Channel 9: "They might have got a little tap on the shoulder."
Vautin earlier said: "They will ruin the game if they keep it up."
The only other second-half penalty came with 10 minutes left.
Only two were blown in the final half.
The match officials were well aware of the mounting penalty count. In a rare moment, Sutton took a try-scoring opportunity to take a moment to speak with his sideline officials in the first half.
"We are having to do a lot," Sutton told his sideline officials after Blues forward Paul Vaughan crossed in the 35th minute.
"They are not giving an inch.
"Let's not overdo it. Let's continue to work."
Former Blues coach Phil Gould was scathing throughout the commentary.
"If the referees stay out of it the players will decide it," Gould said.
"We don't come to see how good the referee's referee. Keep the ball in play let the (players) decide the game)."
The Blues were denied what looked to be a fair try to Josh Addo-Carr which would have shut out any hope the Maroons had of trying to snatch out a late victory.
Jack Wighton was on the attack 10m out when Will Chambers stripped the ball out, causing it to bounce into the waiting arms of Josh Addo-Carr. The Blues winger scooped up the Steeded and put it over the tryline, only for the match officials to rule a Wighton knock on, while not even bothering to go to the bunker.
Given the current referees crisis engulfing the NRL, had this result been different, the whistleblowers may have had some serious explaining to do.