SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — APRIL 06: Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan looks on before the round five NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters at Southern Cross Group Stadium on April 6, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — APRIL 06: Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan looks on before the round five NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters at Southern Cross Group Stadium on April 6, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Sharks coach slams refs after loss to Broncos

ON Wednesday Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said teams need to "take the referees out of it" to win football games.

On Thursday night he put the whistleblowers right in the middle of it.

Cronulla's top-four aspirations took a hit after falling 12-10 to Brisbane in a bruising match at Suncorp Stadium.

The Sharks enjoyed 55 per cent of possession, only completed 27 of their 37 sets and halfback Chad Townsend missed a regulation conversion attempt that cannoned back off the goalposts.

Yet the Sharks coach turned the attention to the referees again, a week after benefiting from two controversial decisions in their win over Canberra, declaring the officiating "wasn't up to scratch".

Flanagan turned his rage on the refs. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images.
Flanagan turned his rage on the refs. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images.

In an end-to-end affair, the Broncos defended their way to victory, including holding the Sharks out for three consecutive sets in the final 10 minutes.

But a series of decisions, including the video referee's call to deny Ricky Leutele a first-half try after he ruled the Sharks centre had planted the ball on Jamayne Isaako's foot, left Flanagan frustrated.

"The no-try to Ricky Leutele, the bunker has got to have sufficient evidence that the ball didn't touch the ground," Flanagan said.

"I watched every replay. Brave call to say the ball definitely didn't touch the ground."

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen added: "They looked at it 20 times."

Cronulla blew a chance to push their top-four aspirations, remaining in fifth place on 26 competition points, now equal with the Broncos.

"It was a couple of decisions in my book (that cost us). There was just too many of them," Flanagan said.

Cronulla couldn’t crack the Broncos line. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Cronulla couldn’t crack the Broncos line. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

"We were on the receiving end last week, the positive end, we are on the opposite end this week, the negative end.

"That is a concern for the game. That refereeing standard tonight wasn't up to scratch."

It was in stark contrast to Wednesday's press conference, where Flanagan appeared to come in to support the under-fire referees.

"I think that department is doing its best," Flanagan said the day before the Broncos clash.

"They haven't got it right and they put their hand up, let's just hope we work really hard as a code to get it right for when the big games come around.

"There have been a couple of decisions that went against us but we need to be good enough to get the win considering the decisions and take the referees out of it.

"I heard some chat around getting rid of the Bunker but it wasn't that long ago we were saying we need technology, we have it why don't we use it - now we're using it and we want to get rid of it."

Gallen was booed everytime he touched the ball. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Gallen was booed everytime he touched the ball. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

The result leaves the door ajar for Penrith to leapfrog them with victory over Manly on Saturday at Brookvale Oval.

Victory by the Roosters over St George Illawarra at Allianz on Sunday can open up a two-point gap between the top four and bottom four of the finals contenders in a congested leaderboard.