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SportRefs ditch whistles in second half as Origin eventually entertains us

18:00  10 july  2019
18:00  10 july  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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But all that changed in the second half with only two more penalties blown - and the game suddenly burst to life as a result. Phil Gould summed it up for most league fans when he said on Nine's coverage midway through the second half : "There are 83,000 people here at the ground, four million

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The message at half-time would have been a quick and simple one for referees Gerard Sutton and Ashley Klein - put the bloody whistles away.

There were a whopping 12 penalties by half-time as the men in the middle did their best to make it difficult fo either side to play free-flowing football.

Two days after being publicly roasted by NRL head of football Graham Annesley for having an ordinary couple of weeks in clubland, Sutton and Klein were clearly in a mood to stamp their authority.

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But all that changed in the second half with only two more penalties blown - and the game suddenly burst to life as a result.

There was some wonderful attacking play and NSW speedsters James Tedesco and Damien Cook came into their own against tiring defence.

It was exactly what the fans who packed ANZ Stadium wanted to see. It would have also convinced the millions of viewers at home to stop flicking in between New Zealand and India's World Cup cricket semi-final.

Refs ditch whistles in second half as Origin eventually entertains us© AAP Josh Addo-Carr leads the celebrations after the Blues' last-gasp win. Phil Gould summed it up for most league fans when he said on Nine's coverage midway through the second half: "There are 83,000 people here at the ground, four million people at home, this is the biggest spectacle, this is what sells [rugby league] to the world, and they don't come to see how the referees referee, they come to see the players play.''

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Andrew Johns, the Blues assistant who was also working for the host broadcaster, pointed out Tedesco and Cook were able to take advantage of the ''more fatigue and more room around the ruck''.

Refs ditch whistles in second half as Origin eventually entertains us
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Players were pinged in the opening minutes for a range of offences including slowing down the ruck and being inside 10m. Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans could not believe he had been pinged in just the third minute, then felt compelled to have a word with Sutton when Ethan Lowe was penalised a minute later.

It was cringe-worthy stuff, especially when you consider there were only eight penalties blown in the first game and 13 in Perth. Last year's series featured five, 14 and 11 penalties respectively.

Sutton was appointed the top job a day after Annesley confirmed he had made a couple of blunders in the Warriors and Panthers clash, including sending Jarome Luai to the sin-bin when he should not have been.

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For all the pressure the players were under coming into the decider, Sutton and Klein would have been feeling just as much heat.

A frustrated NSW coach Brad Fittler was asked about the first-half penalty count and made it known his team rarely came out on the right end of penalty counts.

"So I'm not relying on penalties,'' Fittler said.

Annesley admitted at the start of the week: "Some of the mistakes we've seen over the last few weeks [from referees] simply aren't good enough. They're mistakes that shouldn't have been made. We need to try and find out why and what they're doing to hopefully ensure it doesn't happen again leading into the finals series.''

Paul Vautin admitted after the half-hour ''some of the penalties are bewildering''.

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