ST Helens coach Keiron Cunningham claimed the video referee system is making a mockery of rugby league after his side had three tries disallowed in their 42-38 win at Castleford.
The reigning champions made a flying start, with three tries in the first 14 minutes through Adam Swift (2) and Mark Percival, and they would have led 24-0 had Jon Wilkin’s score not been over-turned by video referees Richard Silverwood and Chris Kendall.
This video ref system is just becoming a mockery of rugby leagueKeiron Cunningham
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Percival were also denied by the video officials, to the fury of Cunningham.
“This video ref system is just becoming a mockery of rugby league,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got referees making decisions on the field and getting them overturned. The Jon Wilkin no-try was a massive swing for us. At 24-0 it was game over.
“We’ve had three video-ref no tries, which absolutely baffles me. I don’t get the whole system. You might as well not have a referee on the field any more, you might as well just run with a video referee for everything.”
Castleford made the most of the Wilkin let-off, with full-back Luke Dorn touching down twice in six minutes and Ben Roberts pulling out of two tackles to score a third try which levelled the contest at 18-18 at the break.
The Tigers went in front courtesy of Roberts’ second try early in the second half but Saints stormed back, with Swift completing his hat-trick and Adam Quinlan, Tom Makinson and Percival adding further tries and Luke Walsh taking his goal tally to seven from as many attempts.
The win, which followed last week’s surprise Super 8s triumph at leaders Leeds, ensured a semi-final spot for Cunningham’s men.
“Our start was what we wanted, it was brilliant,” Cunningham said. “All credit to Cas, who had everything to play for tonight, it was their final hurrah and we knew they would come out fighting.
“We fell into the trap of playing into Castleford’s hands and it started getting like touch footie where we were missing tackles and grabbing instead of using shoulders like we did at the start.
“But we kept finding a way, which is a sign of a very good side, and I’m more than happy we got two away wins against teams that needed to pick up points.
“When you look back, it was a typical Saints-Cas game, all that was missing was a drop goal at the end.
“I’d like defence to be better but we looked electric with the ball in hand. The biggest thing for us was backing it up from last week.”
A third successive defeat was a mortal blow to Castleford’s hopes of reaching the top-four play-offs.
“We scored enough points to win the game but we couldn’t defend well enough,” said Tigers coach Daryl Powell.
“We’re disappointed we’re not going to make the four. We’ve let ourselves down badly over the last three games.
“We’ve been all over the place defensively but we’ve played some outstanding rugby league all year and we did tonight.
“I thought there were loads of positives for us but there needs to be a bit of an attitude shift if we are to get into the top four on a regular basis.”
Powell echoed Cunningham’s criticism of the video referee system, saying: “It’s nothing new. I think it’s a poor system.
“Obviously they had a few tries disallowed but I actually thought one they got allowed should have been disallowed.”