Smith questions “different rules”

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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Warrington coach Tony Smith say s St George Illawarra winger Eto Nabuli would have been sent off for a swinging arm had the offence occurred in Super League rather than the opening game of the new World Club Series.

Smith believes his side’s clash with the Dragons was refereed more leniently by Ben Thaler, who punished ugly-looking high tackles by Nabuli and half-back Benji Marshall on Kevin Penny and Gareth O’Brien respectively with penalties rather than cards during the NRL club’s 18-12 victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Thaler did not award his first penalty until the 28th minute while St George Illawarra had to wait until the 71st minute for their first penalty.

“We played a lot of different rules,” Smith said. “In Super League there would have been a red card and a lot more penalties.

“Our man in the middle wanted to not give a penalty in the game but he was forced into it in the latter stages.

“I would have liked to have known that it was going to be a bit more relaxed in areas. It would have been nice to have been told rather than find out along the way. I f that’s the way it’s going to be, just tell us.”

Smith praised Penny, who was switched to full-back in the absence of the injured Stefan Ratchford, for his sportsmanship over the Nabuli tackle.

“I thought it was a shocker but it was class from Kevin Penny to jump up straight away,” Smith said. “He could have laid there and got his opposing player sent off.

“It was a great bit of sportsmanship from Kevin, who was outstanding. He really put his body on the line, along with super Benny Westwood.”

Warrington were never in front after conceding an early try to Welsh international Tyson Frizell but fought back to 12-12 thanks to tries from O’Brien and Ryan Atkins before conceding the all-important score to full-back Josh Dugan after 62 minutes.

“It was the right result,” Smith added. “They deserved to win. There wasn’t much between us. We were a bit sloppy in some aspects of our game.

“We had some absolutely outstanding performers and we saw some down the other end. We just didn’t quite get it altogether but credit to St George – they played their style and I think they made one mistake in the first half.

“I thought physically we weren’t great in that first half and, although we aimed up in the second half we didn’t have the patience to build a game.”

Dragons coach Paul McGregor was delighted with both the outcome and his club’s participation in the World Club Series.

His side emerged injury-free ahead of the new NRL season and he was able to examine the potential of Nabuli, who was a hotel porter in Fiji up to a few months ago, and prop Rory O’Brien, who were both making their fir st-grade debuts.

“I enjoyed it, I think it should keep growing,” McGregor said of the competition.

“The first half was as good as any and, although it got a bit scrappy in the second half, everyone enjoyed themselves.

“I think our whole nine days here has been fantastic. The result went our way and it gave me a good look at a couple of blokes who haven’t played first grade. It won’t get much tougher than that back home.”

McGregor does not expect any repercussions from the Nabuli tackle.

“It was a reflex action,” he said. “I don’t think there was too much in it.”

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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