Josh Hodgson and his Raiders teammates react after full-time. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Josh Hodgson and his Raiders teammates react after full-time. Picture. Phil Hillyard

GF Buzz: Disgraceful call story of NRL season

All year we've feared a refereeing error would decide the premiership and on Sunday night it did.

The Canberra Raiders' dream of a fairytale grand final victory ended in blazing controversy in the dying minutes of what had been a wonderful grand final.

Jack Wighton took a tackle deep in Roosters territory when Ben Cummins waved his arm to rule six again - then changed his mind. This was a disgraceful call on the Raiders.

The Roosters got the ball and James Tedesco scores at the other end. Game over.

This has been the story of the season. Bad refereeing. Inconsistent refereeing.

Take nothing away from the Roosters but it was wrong they had to win under these circumstances.

They say the Roosters buy premierships with superstars but not on Sunday night.

Million dollar fullback Tedesco may have scored the matchwinning try but it was their two lowest paid players who played such significant roles to deliver their 15th premiership

Rookie hooker Sam Verrills and interchange forward Nat Butcher are on a quarter of the salaries of some of their biggest names. Last night they were both magnificent.

Verrills' try. Great initiative and vision.

This was the most extraordinary contest. As good as any of the great grand finals we've seen over the last decade.

You need luck in these big games and the Roosters got it early.

The Luke Keary clearing kick that ricocheted off Sia Soliola and hit the Roosters trainer.

They get the scrum feed and Verrills scores two sets later.

Play could so easily have been at the other end of the field.

Then the Raiders get their lucky break 10 minutes in the second half.

Cooper Cronk is sin-binned for a debatable professional foul by tackling Josh Papalii a split second before he should have. Gus and Joey blow up. The penalty goal levels the score.

But the Roosters get the big call near the end.



Jarred Waerea Hargreaves was sensational in the opening exchanges - 60 metres in the first nine minutes. Extraordinary stuff. They lose Mitch Aubusson after just 15 minutes.

He's replaced by big money signing Angus Crichton. Can he justify the $700,000 salary?

Not when he misses Jack Wighton to allow Canberra's first try.

It was one that Aubusson would have made.

Aubo did his knee earlier stopping big Elliot Whitehead from grounding the ball.

What a performance from Jack Wighton in the losing team.

Surely he has to be one of the first players chosen in Mal Meninga's Test side.

You look in the losing dressing room.

Ricky Stuart. What a coaching performance to even be there.

You think back to all the nasty emails and social media messages.

Those calling for his sacking after leaving Cronulla and then Parramatta in 2013 - 24 games, just five wins. Stone motherless last.

Then the difficult years in Canberra - 15th in 2014, 10th in 2015 and 2017, 9th in 2018.

Rugby league fans are notoriously impatient. They're not into long-term plans.

But he stuck at it with the staunch support of the Canberra Raiders board.

He didn't deserve to lose last night under those circumstances.