Lightning never strikes twice, apparently – but for North Queensland Cowboys, their season has been cruelly ended by a potential controversial call for the third consecutive season.
After the ‘Hand of Foran’ incident involving Kieran Foran in 2012, the Cowboys were defeated by Cronulla Sharks in last year’s play-offs after the Sharks scored a try on the seventh tackle. That left Cowboys skipper Jonathan Thurston outraged at yet another refereeing blunder that had cost his side – his reaction to this defeat will be equally as captivating.
The Cowboys had fought their way back from 30-0 down to tie the game up at 30-30. They were standing on the edge of the greatest comeback in the last 100 years of Australian Rugby League, before once again, the gods seemed to turn their back on North Queensland.
Sydney scored a routine drop-goal via the boot of James Maloney to take a one-point lead – but only after Sonny Bill Williams had appeared to drop the ball three plays before Maloney slotted the goal.
Then, with the Cowboys chancing their arm in the final seconds of the game, they thought they had scored the try that would take them to within just 80 minutes of a Grand Final appearance. With the ball bobbling loose after Robert Lui kept it alive, Thurston expertly picked the ball up before racing home from 40 metres.
The celebrations had begun – but referee Shayne Hayne decided it needed clearing up via the video referee. The replays seemed to show that the ball had bounced level off Lui – not forwards – but the try was amazingly chalked off with just 50 seconds left on the clock.
Thurston’s reaction after the game – when being interviewed by Gorden Tallis – summed it up.
“Mate, try, no try, like aargh,” Thurston said. “Honestly I’m just speechless…”
“I don’t want to say anything because I’ll get in trouble”.
So was it a fair call or not? Make your mind up by watching the video above.