‘Nobody’s got any idea’: Wayne Bennett ‘dumbfounded’ by rare NRL call

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has said he was “dumbfounded” by his Rabbitohs side being penalised in the second half of his side’s loss to the Panthers.

Mark Nicholls was pinged for being downtown after Souths got a kick away.

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Penrith were then awarded a kick in front of the posts from 40m which allowed Nathan Cleary to push them ahead for the first time in the game.

Stephen Crichton fielded the ball, knocking it on after a brutal front-on tackle by Cameron Murray.

Grant Atkins got back to marshal the Penrith defence onside before blowing his whistle. It appeared the bunker had intervened and Nicholls was “downtown” – meaning he was off-side at the time of the kick.

Instead of pulling up, Nicholls charged downfield to exert pressure on Crichton and gathered the ball after his handling error.

Bennett, though said the call left him stunned.

NRL: South Sydney Rabbitohs head coach Wayne Bennett speaks on his team’s round 23 clash against the Panthers….

NRL: South Sydney Rabbitohs head coach Wayne Bennett speaks on his team’s round 23 clash against the Panthers.

“We’re all a bit dumbfounded by that one,” Bennett said in his post-match press conference.

“I think it might be (the rule) but as Mark said he’s done it all his career and so many others have.

“I don’t know where it came from.

“Nobody’s got any idea in that changing room.

“Nobody can believe it – because they’re all guilty of it. It was a big moment in the game no doubt about that.”

Replays showed Nicholls was a handsome distance off-side and the officials were right to penalise the Bunnies.

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NRL: Penrith winger Stephen Crichton has been compared to Tom Trbojevic after an outstanding performance at fullback against the Rabbitohs, while Dylan Edwards was forced off the field with an injury.

Atkins explained the ruling to Souths captain Adam Reynolds at the time.

“Mark Nicholls is downtown from the kick and he can’t play an active part in the play,” Atkins said.

“He can’t take part in the play. Mark Nicholls has advanced downfield before the ball is kicked past him.

“We call downtown all the time but if he ends up playing a role in the play – which he did – that’s bad luck. He might as well wait downfield, that’s the law of the game, you’ve got to accept it.”

Originally published asBennett dumbfounded by rare NRL call

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