‘Was that any worse?’: Wayne Bennett erupts over controversial golden point thriller

The Canberra Raiders have done the unthinkable in a 26-25 golden point victory over the Dolphins at Kayo Stadium on Saturday night.

Raiders fullback Jordan Rapana was the hero, booting the first two field goals of his career in the stunning result where both sides had ample opportunities to close out the result.

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After losing Jesse Bromwich in the opening minutes to a suspected rib injury, the Dolphins spent most of the match fighting back.

The Dolphins drew level in the 67th minute after a try to winger Kurt Donoghoe before Jamayne Isaako nailed a sideline conversion to make it 24-all.

Isaako then gave the Dolphins the lead in the 71st minute with a field goal, before Rapana kicked his maiden one-pointer to send the sides to golden point.

But the drama didn’t end there.

The Raiders defended almost the entire opening five minute stanza of golden point thanks to some bad handling.

Just over 90 seconds into the extra-time, it looked like Isaako had nailed the winner, only for referee Adam Gee to penalise the Dolphins as lock Max Plath moved off his line to impede the charge down attempt.

“Blockers — we were promised the referees would be harder on this,” Dan Ginnane said.

The rule was changed in the off-season after controversial moments saw players impede the path of players attempting to charge down or put pressure on the kicker.

Another field goal attempt from Isaako was charged down, while Isaiya Katoa then went himself off the next set but was knocked off the ball shoulder to shoulder by Rapana.

The Raiders had a shot in the final seconds of the first period of extra-time with Rapana pushing it wide.

The second half started with Isaako pushing another attempt wide, before Rapana hit the winner, despite Jeremy Marshall-King getting a touch to the ball.

However, Marshall-King claimed to have been impeded on his way to the charge down attempt.

A replay showed Marshall-King had touched the ball, meaning if he got there any earlier he may have made an even more significant impact on the field goal attempt.

“A controversial game has a contentious finish,” Ginnane said. “The Dolphins were denied a field goal, the Raiders allowed one for what the Dolphins are claiming is an identical crime.”

Corey Parker said “from first glance it appeared Marshall-King was held,” although he didn’t appear convinced on second viewing.

But Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett was fuming after the match.

Asked “Wayne, you’ve never really been a fan of golden point, I imagine that did little to change your mind,” Bennett replied: “No.”

Asked about the Plath decision, Bennett didn’t hold back.

“You’re going to have to wait for when Graham Annesley does his report about all the mistakes they made,” he said.

“The Joe Tapine, was that any worse than what Max Plath did? I got two players knocked out tonight, no reports, no penalties, both were head highs. And they both had to go off the field.

“As I said, you’ll have to ask them. I can’t answer those questions because I don’t have the answers.”

Asked if he was surprised they didn’t look at Tapine’s action in the game-deciding moment, Bennett said: “I’m not surprised.

“They had a look at a couple of things tonight and they didn’t change their minds. Connolly (Lemuelu) got knocked with a really forceful head high trying to pick up a loose ball on the ground and there was no action taken. And then there was the other one with Herbie Farnworth. No action was taken.

“But both times they get sent by the doctor in the Bunker for head assessments because they’ve been hit in the head.

“Nothing’s going to change but I suppose my players need some answers. That’s the only satisfaction we’re going to get.”

Bennett said he wouldn’t reach out to Annesley before Monday, repeating: “Nothing’s going to change.”

After the press conference, Fox League’s Cooper Cronk said it was the way Bennett

“I think Wayne’s calculated with everything he says and that was a timely reminder,” Cronk said.

“I tend to agree with him. The Rapana field goal to win it, it seemed as though Marshall-King thought he was interrupted on the run. We never got a second look at it but it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.”

But despite a 6-2 penalty count against them, Australian coach and Immortal Mal Meninga argued the Dolphins had the “rub of the green” in the second half.

“I just felt that it evens out,” he said. “It ebbs and flows, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. What can you do now? You can’t do anything about it.”

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