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NRL News: ‘Honestly, I’ve given up’ – Bunker’s try call confuses Demetriou, Broncos to re-sign Oates

“Honestly, I’ve given up trying to figure out what that rule is.”

Black and white obstruction rulings now look like they’re a thing of the past with the bunker’s interpretation bringing grey areas back into the NRL.

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou was confused after a controversial Dylan Edwards try in Thursday night’s loss to Penrith with even Panthers legend Greg Alexander admitting on Fox League commentary that he thought it was a dubious four-pointer.

“There would be plenty of fans wondering why wasn’t that a penalty,” he said. “The outside shoulder (rule) has been very black and white.

“The video referee is making a judgment call on whether the player would have made the tackle or not.”

Demetriou refused to blame the bunker for the defeat but he cannot understand the latest nuances of the obstruction rule.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 18: Dylan Edwards of the Panthers makes a break to score a tryduring the round 23 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Penrith Panthers at Accor Stadium, on August 18, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Dylan Edwards makes a break to score. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

With the match evenly poised in the first half on Thursday, Edwards cut through the Rabbitohs’ line on a scrum play to open up an eight-point lead for the Panthers.

In the lead-up, Panthers centre Izack Tago ran a decoy line in between Lachlan Ilias and Campbell Graham and contacted Ilias’s outside shoulder, which usually constitutes an obstruction.

But the Bunker ruled that given Edwards was able to outrun Graham, who was closer to him, Ilias would still not have reached the ball-carrier had he been left untouched.

“I don’t think there’s anything else that Izack Tago can do (to get out of the way of the defenders),” Michael Ennis said in commentary for Fox League. I think they got it right.”

In a similar incident last week, Newcastle’s Bradman Best was paid a try against Brisbane despite a decoy runner contacting Adam Reynolds on his outside shoulder. 

Quizzed about the decision to award the try at his weekly briefing on Monday, the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said the match officials were permitted to use discretion in applying the obstruction rule.

“The referee or review officials can determine the significance of contact initiated by the ‘Block’ or ‘Flat’ runner(s) in impeding a defender’s involvement in a try scoring play,” the NRL’s rules read.

Demetriou said he was still confused by the rule. “Honestly, I’ve given up trying to figure out what that rule is,” he said in the post-match press conference. “(Tago) stops in the line. There’s no way Lachie can get off that.”

While the Panthers went on to win by only four points, Demetriou refused to blame Edwards’ try for the loss, which looks to have ended South Sydney’s last-minute top-four bid. 

Instead, he lamented his side’s inability to stifle the Panthers’ attack despite the absence of creative architects Nathan Cleary (suspension) and Jarome Luai (MCL injury).

“We shouldn’t have conceded 26 points in a game when they’re missing their two most creative players,” he said. “We needed to get in front on the scoreboard and put some pressure on them to make a play and we weren’t able to do that up until the last few minutes.

“A few blokes missed their assignments in defence tonight and that’s what cost us.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: Corey Oates of the Broncos scores a try under pressure from Jahrome Hughes of the Storm during the round 15 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park, on June 17, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Corey Oates scores a try. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Oates to reap new contract for try-scoring feats

Corey Oates is closing in on Brisbane try-scoring history and a new contract, according to coach Kevin Walters.

The in-form winger has risen from the scrap heap last season to sit just four tries off the Broncos’ single-season try-scoring record with three rounds remaining.

Walters says Oates is close to agreeing to a new multi-year deal too, having forced the NRL club to act with his powerful form that led to a State of Origin recall for the decisive third game.

“I expect that to happen in the next couple of weeks,” Walters said of the 27-year-old, who was wallowing in reserve grade at times in 2021.

“He’s had a great season, some of his best in his days at the club and we’re looking forward to getting him back next year and hopefully for a couple more.”

Ahead of Friday night’s clash with Melbourne, Oates has 19 tries in as many games in 2022 and has importantly been a cornerstone of Brisbane’s edge defence, been strong in early-set carries and safe under the high ball.

Four more tries would bring him level with Steve Renouf (1994) and Darren Smith (1998) as the club’s joint top scorers for a single season. One try on Friday would be enough to see him become just the fifth at the club to score 20 or more in a season, while a double would be a record-equalling seventh two-try effort for the season.

Brisbane have lost their last 11 games against Melbourne and not beaten them at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.

Victory in Brisbane on Friday would all but seal the Broncos’ return to the finals after a two-year absence, while providing a dash of belief that they can make waves in September.

“The record (against Melbourne) is irrelevant; we’ve eight or nine guys to the club that are new,” Walters said.

“(Melbourne) have been good for a long time and they’ll be good tomorrow.

“We’re ready for what they throw at us and we’ll throw a bit back as well.”

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