MacDonald’s try came at a crucial point in the game. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
MacDonald’s try came at a crucial point in the game. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

Refs admit bunker got it wrong over Dragons try

NRL referees boss Bernard Sutton has admitted to a wrong call by the bunker in awarding Nene Macdonald a controversial late try in St George Illawarra's Anzac Day win over the Sydney Roosters.

With the Dragons leading 18-8 and 11 minutes left to play, Macdonald crossed in the corner to put Wednesday afternoon's match beyond doubt and cap off the 24-8 victory.

Referee Ashley Klein sent the decision to the bunker with the on-field call of try, however replays appeared to show the ball come free from Macdonald's grasp before it hit the ground.

After numerous replays, senior bunker review official Jared Maxwell determined there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field call of try and stuck with the decision.

The call split opinion after the match, with Roosters coach Trent Robinson claiming the decision was wrong while Macdonald insisted he had been able to get the ball down.

But, late on Wednesday night, Sutton conceded it was the wrong decision. "However, having reviewed the decision, it can be seen the ball rotates, which indicates possession has been lost," Sutton said.

"And from this point, Nene Macdonald is required to catch, hold or re-grip the ball before the ball comes in contact with the ground to score a try. "As Nene was unable to resecure possession, the correct ruling should have been knock-on."

Sutton's comments came after Robinson said he didn't believe the try should have been awarded, but was more concerned about his side's own attack than the decision even though he had hopes of a comeback.

"I don't think it was a try, simply," Robinson said.

"But we've got to get some stuff right for ourselves. To be honest, I don't care. Even though I thought 18-8 was a good opportunity."


Macdonald insisted he thought he had put the ball down fairly, but admitted replays hadn't helped his case as he watched the big screen as the bunker deliberated.

"I was pretty 50-50," Macdonald said.

"I thought I had a finger to it and I don't think the film gave me much justice. But I thought I got it.

"Cronk got across and hit my arm and I think I just had my fingers to it. I was sort of losing it. If the ground was a centimetre lower, I would have lost it."