Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Why Manly were not robbed last week
Let me start things off by clearing the air (those four loyal readers from last week already know this…) I am a diehard Manly supporter/member. However I feel extremely uncomfortable with the sensationalised journalism that occurred in the aftermath of Manly's 19-16 loss to Parramatta on the back of the now infamous ‘out of the hands backwards’ forward pass which would of won them the game with 40 seconds remaining. My conversation to my Eels mate, who was on the opposite couch, went a little something like this...
Replay 1 – “gee that’s close, you could see that call go either way”,
Replay 2 – “yeh that is backwards, gee that hurts I was right in my excitement”,
Replay 3,4,5,6,7 “nothing new, we get the idea”
I seriously think it was played 15+ times by FoxSports and their panel post game. Four online articles were on their website within 28 minutes of the game concluding. My phone went off over the next 24 hours with messages along the lines of “I hate Manly, but you guys were robbed”. This is my problem – was Manly actually robbed?
You be the judge, forward / not forward?
19-16 is a very close game, easily match of the round and the quality was that of two predicted top four sides going head-to-head. Great defence and both sides had momentum at different stages of the match. I continued to watch the Cowboys vs Sharks game (with my mate still wearing his Parramatta jersey proudly) as we watched the errors flow and we remarked the stark difference in quality. Roosters, Melbourne, Canberra, Parramatta, Souths, Manly – the top 6 from last year are again the teams who are the cream of the crop in 2020. Now unfortunately in the shortened season the call by the touchy could be the difference between finishing 4th and 7th, meaning a difficult path to premiership glory but if Manly are good enough they shouldn’t have to worry about that. In fact, if Manly had played a consistent 80 minutes they would of won the game easily.
Easily – big call. When I just said it was an even contest! The stats show 51-49% possession, 81% vs 79% completion rate, similar run metres, errors and tackle efficiency were comparable also. Where Manly could have won the game easily was by not conceding 10 points in the space of 66 seconds – Parramatta scored with 6 seconds to go in the first half and then Manly made an error literally off the kick-off, gifting Parra field position which led to another try. Manly did a great job to fight back from 18-2 down to get themselves in a winning position with five minutes to play but ultimately it was a poor lapse in the middle of the game that meant Manly didn’t finish 16-6 winners.
My pledge to journalists (Gus Gould’s of the world I am talking to you!), stop sensationalising sport and magnifying the one error. Let us talk about the quality of the game instead and realise the referees get 99% of things right, a stat which I just made up, but 86% of stats are made up anyways, right?
Unfortunately, with technology we have tried to make sport perfect, slow motion replays and adjudications for tries, 50/50 decisions, goals and whatever else they can think of are taking the enjoyment out of the game and the excitement of the moment. We want technology to enhance the experience of the viewer, not to securitise every single error. Cricket has made some progress in this regard, limiting the number of DRS challenges. T20 doesn’t allow DRS as it would impact the spend and drama. If we do want officials using technology to remove the howler, use it for all situations (including obvious forward passes) or have a set timer on the decision – 30 seconds and final replay is in real time. Wouldn’t have made a difference to Manly, but when sport does use it, use it this way.
Perhaps DRS might have helped Pigeon McGrath on this day.
There will always be the odd decision we do not agree with, but let’s focus on the positives. There will always be some element of human error, but our officials are professionals, gone are the days of dodgy decision making for the most part. While my beloved Manly – don’t lose focus in the minute before or after halftime and you’ll have no problems going deep this year!