Penrith’s highly successful clash against the Parramatta Eels has been marred by an outright howl from match officials.
Penrith’s 21-game winning streak is finally over.
The Parramatta Eels pulled off a stunning upset victory over the Panthers in a pulsating Sydney West derby, but the two-point triumph was marred by an outright howl from match officials at BlueBet Stadium.
Parramatta was leading by four points in the 39th minute when Panthers forward Viliame Kikau Kikau dropped the ball after Eels center Will Penisini covered him near the 50-meter line.
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But the umpires somehow missed the 27-year-old’s brazen jab, allowing play to continue as teammate Izack Tago collected the Steeden.
Eels running back Mitchell Moses raised his arms to referee Gerard Sutton, who remained unmoved.
And much to the frustration of Parramatta fans, Panthers winger Taylan May dived near the corner flag for a crucial try on the final tackle of that set.
The Bunker was unable to intervene because a tackle had been made after Kikau’s dazzling strike.
“I’m trying to come up with a Kikau drop defense,” Fox League commentator Andrew Voss said.
“Was there any sign to say they saw it as a ripped ball, even though it wasn’t? It’s hard to believe you couldn’t see it.”
Former Cronulla Sharks star Michael Ennis continued: “That’s a cheeky jab that Gerard Sutton has missed.
“You can see Gutherson and Moses going straight to Gerard Sutton when May put the ball down and said, ‘Are you serious? Are you serious?'”
SBS reporter Adrian Arciuli tweeted: “In such a big game, it’s a big mistake to lose that Kikau shot. It completely changes the game.”
Penrith running back Nathan Cleary missed the conversion attempt, meaning the players returned to the sheds with the score 10-10.
Queensland great Johnathan Thurston vented his frustration at halftime on Channel 9, attacking match officials.
“You can’t let them go, my God,” he yelled.
“There are two touch judges, a referee and a bunker.
“That cannot be missing in the big games, it cannot happen.
“This is the NRL, we are better than that.”
Parramatta held his nerve in the second half to claim a dramatic 22-20 victory over the reigning Premiers, who had not lost an NRL match since September last year.
It was a great result for the blue and gold army, which has shown the rest of the competition that the Panthers are beaten.
Eels captain Clint Gutherson led from the front with his first down and then made a peach pass to set up Ryan Matterson in the second half to give his team the lead.
But heavyweight fights are won from the start, and Junior Paulo and Isaiah Papali’i deserve a lot of applause for earning a rare win over Penrith’s mainstays.
Not many teams can force Panthers fans to leave BlueBet Stadium early, but then again, not many teams play like this for 80 minutes against a team that is destined to be unbeatable.
Parramatta take on the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday May 15, with kick-off scheduled for 4:05pm AEST.
— with Martin Gabor, NCA NewsWire