Referee Gerard Sutton during an NRL earlier this year. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Referee Gerard Sutton during an NRL earlier this year. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Sutton safe, touchie and pocket ref axed

THE NRL has dropped touch judge Ricky MacFarlane and pocket referee Gavin Reynolds as a result of the Sharks-Raiders refereeing debacle last Friday night.

Gerard Sutton has retained his position in first grade but has been demoted to the Titans-Warriors game.

Reynolds was the referee who called Joey Leilua's pass forward when replays showed otherwise and the Raiders were denied a fair try.

And bunker official Luke Patton has retained his job as the fallout continued in the wake of two major blunders in the Raiders' controversial loss.

In one of the most bizarre blunders seen in many years, Canberra players stopped defending when touch judge MacFarlane put his flag in the air in the 58th minute after what appeared to be a knock on from Jesse Ramien when the scores were at 22-18.

Touch judge Ricky Mraises his flag but Sione Katoa runs away to score a try
Touch judge Ricky Mraises his flag but Sione Katoa runs away to score a try

Even Sutton, the top referee in the game, put his whistle in his mouth as though he was about to stop play.

Instead, the ref allowed Sione Katoa to race over and plant the ball over the tryline before it was sent up to the video ref as a "no try".

Incredibly, the bunker then overruled the onfield decision, extending Cronulla's lead to 28-18.

The Raiders then had another call go against them when a pass from Leilua to Michael Oldfield was called forward.

On Monday, NRL boss Todd Greenberg stepped into the refereeing crisis by guaranteeing a severe response to last Friday's controversial Cronulla-Canberra debacle.

"You can take it as read that tomorrow's (Tuesday) appointments will reflect some of that disappointment. There has to be accountability," NRL CEO Greenberg said on Monday.

"You can expect there to be accountability tomorrow."