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Parramatta Eels take lead over North Queensland Cowboys after controversial pass


By Matt Bungard and Emily Patterson

Early controversy rocked Queensland Country Bank Stadium when the Eels were given a leg-up by what appeared to be a forward pass in their preliminary final against the Cowboys.

A chorus of boos rung out after Parramatta centre Will Penisini scored the opening try in Friday night’s clash.

The home fans were clearly ropeable that a suspect Mitchell Moses pass early in the play was overlooked.

“The crowd doesn’t like it,” Paul Vautin said on Nine’s coverage.

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The forward pass was missed by both the referee and touch judge, and the Bunker cannot ruled on forward passes.

“Call the coppers,” Vautin said.

“That went six metres forward that pass.”

“We might find this ball travelled about a metre and a half forward, but we can’t judge on that after the fact,” Storm great Cameron Smith added.

Speaking after the Eels defeated the Cowboys 24-20 to book a spot in next week’s grand final, Smith addressed the fallout from the controversial call.

“Mitchell Moses was under pressure and he felt like he had to get the ball away. When he spun, I believe it came out in a forward motion,” he said.

“The Cowboys, credit to them because they did not fixate on that missed call.

“You can focus on that point and say it was the difference but at the same time, the Cowboys had plenty of chances to score points and made some errors after the missed call.

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“I don’t think the players and coaches will look back and say that is why they lost. They will talk about having opportunities to win the game but the opposition was better.”

While Smith agreed that the Cowboys had a right to be upset with the call, he said the decision did not define the outcome of the match.

“You want the officials to get the calls right but they are human, like the players,” he said.

“There were a few mistakes on the pitch tonight and one of them was missed and you look at it in isolation and wonder how that happened but it was missed. It was allowed to be played on. The bunker cannot rule on forward passes after the event. It was a try.

“The Cowboys, unfortunately, were not good enough tonight. If you look at that as an isolated incident, you can think that if they scored the try, kicked the goal, go up by six, lose by four and that is the reason, but I don’t think so.”

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