NRL news 2021: Sydney Roosters slammed for ‘illegal’ blocking tactic vs Gold Coast Titans

The Sydney Roosters are copping criticism for seemingly using “illegal” blocking tactics during Saturday’s elimination final.

The Sydney Roosters are under scrutiny for seemingly using “illegal” blocking tactics during Saturday’s elimination final against the Gold Coast Titans.

Trent Robinson’s side secured a thrilling 25-24 victory at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium, with teenager Sam Walker kicking a clutch field goal in the 78th minute.

But Titans fans were left fuming when replays showed that Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley had formed what appeared to be a wall next to the ruck, blocking Titans players from charging down the kick or putting Walker under pressure.

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The NRL’s Laws and Interpretations states: “If two or more players form a wall (side-by-side) next to the play and don’t allow the opportunity for a defending player to move directly towards the player in possession, the referee will penalise for obstruction.”

Titans hooker Mitch Rein managed to get past Waerea-Hargreaves and Radley, but did need to weave slightly to evade the pair.

“Another wall set up on the right-hand side, this will be interesting,” Fox League commentator Warren Smith said.

“Walker with the snap, he’s kicked it. The Roosters set up a wall to the right of the play the ball and the referee has no issue with it.”

Balmain Tigers great Steve Roach agreed: “I reckon they’re off side, I reckon they’re in front of the play the ball.

“If we get the right shot we’ll see that they are in front of the play the ball … but anyway Walker kicks it. I reckon it’s a tough call this one.”

Referee Adam Gee did not penalise the Roosters, who held their nerve to clinch a one-point victory and keep their season alive.

Earlier that weekend, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett had blasted the “illegal” ploy in a dramatic press conference ahead of South Sydney’s qualifying final against the Penrith Panthers.

At his weekly press briefing on Monday, NRL head of football Graham Annesley rebuffed suggestions the Roosters had performed an illegal manoeuvre.

“There was a bit of discussion here about players standing beside the ruck,” he said.

“This is not something that’s unusual.

“We’re not going to change the rules that we’ve been playing under all year just because we’re in the finals series.”

Annesley said given Titans hooker Mitch Rein was able to make an attempt to charge the field goal down, he had not been denied an opportunity to “move directly towards the player in possession”.

“The real issue here is whether those players actually prevent an opposition player or a defender from moving towards the player in possession,” he said.

“The reason that ‘side-by-side’ is in parenthesis there is if they literally stand shoulder to shoulder to make sure that a player can’t get through.

“(Rein) got through and he was able to put pressure on the kicker.”

– with Jasper Bruce, NCA NewsWire

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