St George Illawarra momentarily took some heat off coach Paul McGregor with a 24-16 victory over Gold Coast but a try they had denied by the Bunker had Andrew Johns fuming.
Tristan Sailor, son of former NRL star Wendell, had his length-of-the-field intercept try overturned after a review by the Bunker deemed that his Dragons teammate Euan Aitken got a fingernail to the Titans’ pass while attempting a tackle.
That left Johns livid.
“We looked at it 20 times in super slow-motion. We just kept looking it. Now the game is not played in super slow-mo, just show it in real-time. You know what? If Euan Aitken touched it with his thumb and went for it, who gives a rats!” Johns said onMacca’s Saturday Night Footypost-game show on Nine.
“Just let the game flow. We’re going to the Bunker too much.”
“I’m watching it, and I don’t blame the refs because they’re directed to do it. But at the start of the year we hardly went to the Bunker.
“We’ve got the Bunker to stop the howler. It’s doing everyone’s head in. Everyone’s head is going to explode because of this.
“If it’s not a howler, get on with it. Everyone is looking for perfection. But there isn’t perfection.
“People are turning off.”
Brad Fittler said it was a problem that fans were complaining about and the NRL needed to revise again for next season. Darren Lockyer argued that if the Bunker can’t decide it needs overturning after three replays that the decision on-field should be upheld.
“I saw how they [refs] train, and they’re sharp,” Fittler said.
“The biggest problem is they’re worried about public opinion.”
Joey blasts Sailor no-try
The Dragons shrugged off the no-try decision though and held on for a win on the gOld Coast, to finish a disappointing 2019 NRL campaign on a high.
McGregor’s future has been a hot topic, particularly since former Penrith supremo Phil Gould’s appointment to lead a review into the club’s football department.
But the Dragons did just enough on Saturday night to fend off an improved Titans outfit, who struck first in front of a home crowd of 11,274 fans at Cbus Super Stadium when Jai Arrow burrowed over between the posts in the 14th minute.
In a scrappy contest, befitting of its bottom-of-the-table status, the Dragons picked up the pace either side of halftime with a pair of impressive tries, starting with a Jonus Pearson long-range effort from a seemingly routine scrum movement.
Miracle offload sets up stunning Dragons try
Soon after the break, Gold Coast rookie Tanah Boyd was punished for a dropped ball over the tryline with Corey Norman scoring off the next set, capitalising on a Luciano Leilua offload just as he was being bundled out of play by six Titans.
From there, the game opened up dramatically with a series of end-to-end phases, as momentum shifted back and forth, but two Ben Hunt tries in the final 15 minutes sealed the deal for the visitors.
The first of those paved the way for Gareth Widdop to bring up the 1000th point of his NRL career in his final game before returning to England to play for Super League club Warrington.
Widdop was joined as a last-game winner by retiring Dragons forward Jeremy Latimore.
Michael Gordon was not so fortunate, his Titans side slumping to an 11th-straight loss despite the veteran fullback pulling off successive try-saving tackles on opposite sides of the field.
Gordon ended his night sharing a beer with fans on the Gold Coast and was presented with a commemorative surfboard.
The defeat leaves departing Gold Coast interim coach Craig Hodges winless from 10 games at the helm across two stints and means the wooden spooners will finish the year with just four wins in their worst season.