The Cronulla Sharks’ first games since the departure of coach John Morris hasn’t quite gone to plan in the first half with the Knights taking a 14-6 lead to the break.
Morris was stood down midweek after the club signed Craig Fitzgibbon for a three year deal.
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But the main football questions have been how much it will affect the Sharks on the field for the remainder of the season under interim coach Josh Hannay.
It was far from the most seamless half with even the one try the side scored being controversial with Fox League analyst and Panthers legend Greg Alexander slamming the decision.
On the fifth tackle, Sharks halfback Chad Townsend put up a bomb that came down on the 10m line.
Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga made plenty of ground to get to the ball with Cronulla lock Toby Rudolf baring down on the play.
The pair collided with the ball still a long way in the air with the ball then falling to Sharks centre Jesse Ramien to score.
While his eyes were on the ball, Alexander argued that Rudolf hit Ponga way too early.
“Well, he was going for the ball with Toby Rudolf but he makes contact with Ponga before the ball is catchable,” Alexander argued.
Dan Ginnane said it would have been a penalty.
“I think you’ve got to look at the height of the ball,” Alexander added. “If the ball’s there to be taken, if the ball is still up in the air above both players … Rudolf takes him out before he makes a play at the ball.”
But the video ref had a much different idea.
“Toby Rudolf’s eyes are always for the ball,” senior review official Alan Shortall said. “Therefore it is a contest and a collision.”
A seemingly disbelieving Ginnane said: “It’s going to be cleared.”
“For mine, if the ball is lower, then the ball is there to be caught and then it’s a contest,” Alexander replied. “I think the ball is too high in the air when the contact is made.”
“What is Ponga to do?” Ginnane said. “If he meant to do it, then he did it brilliantly in that he kept his eye on the ball the whole time.”
The balls was well above the play.Source:FOX SPORTS
Alexander: “I’m not going to argue that, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ponga was taken out before he could have a play at the ball. The ball was still high enough in the air that neither player to make a play at it when the collision happened.”
The crowd were far from happy with the call, raining down boos.
The commentators did mention that it was also because Sharks centre Jesse Ramien scored, someone who had a short lived career with the club which Ginnane called “a bitter divorce”.
But while Alexander wasn’t happy with the call, he said he understood it.
“I can understand the video ref saying that he only had eyes for the ball but that doesn’t change the fact that the man that’s trying to catch the ball also is taken out.”
But at half-time, Braith Anasta said he believed it was a try.
“Toby Rudolf didn’t take his eyes off the ball,” he said. “I genuinely think he was going for the ball.”
Gorden Tallis agreed and said it may have seemed worse because it was a forward who ran into Ponga.
Social media appeared to be more on the Alexander side of the equation.
I don't understand how you can call that a try because "he's going for the ball" when he misses the ball completely and takes out the player. We gonna ignore knock ons from now on because "he's trying to catch the ball"? Worst call of the season so far #NRLKnightsSharks
New tactics thanks to @Cronulla_Sharks Put up a bomb and have a player run through keeping his eyes UP UP UP at the ball and get in the air enough to knock into the fullback …He had NO intention to take that but let he kept his eyes in the air #NRL #NRLKnightsSharks
Understand you can't have rules for everything, but I don't think you should gain an advantage because your player mistimed a jump and took an opponent out. #NRLKnightsSharks
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