2021 Canberra Raiders vs Parramatta Eels NRL scores highlight bunker controversy

Through Chris De Silva and Marc Churches

The Canberra Raiders returned to the top eight after a thrilling 12-10 win over the Parramatta Eels on the Gold Coast.

Tonight’s game started off oddly, with neither team able to score any points in the first half, in what was the NRL’s scoreless opening first half since the first round of the 2019 season.

After an austere first half, Canberra scored two straight tries before the Eels returned late and were controversially denied.

Eels winger Maika Sivo crossed in the 75th minute to reduce the deficit to two points before almost producing the match winner with less than 10 seconds to go.

The NRL bunker was forced to step in and determine if there had been foul play or a shoulder charge as Jordan Rapana charged towards Sivo in the corner and prevented him from immobilizing the ball.

After a long examination, the bunker finally judged Rapana’s touch to be fair, despite pleas from Eels star Clint Gutherson, who was left livid by The Bunker’s call.

“But [Rapana’s] leading with his knees and [Sivo’s] that’s bleeding, “Gutherson told referee Adam Gee.” How is that not a penalty try? It’s a horrible call. “

Despite the controversy surrounding the appeal, league greats Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston supported the video referee’s decision.

“I was okay with that, I agree with the officials,” Smith said on the cover of Nine.

“I know there will be questions about Jordan’s contact with Maika Sivo and if there was an arm or an action to try to wrap her with her arms.”

“I’m okay with that,” Thurston added.

“Obviously, if his leg comes in contact with [Sivo’s] head, it’s a totally different decision, but he’s right and he won the game for the Raiders.

“That’s what you’re trained for. That’s what you expect from your rear.”

The Bunker also received backing from great Storm Billy Slater, who said Rapana could have been injured had he tried to tackle Sivo in a “conventional” manner.

“It’s a commitment, isn’t it? The game is up for grabs and I don’t think it’s possible to make a conventional tackle there,” he said when covering coverage of Nine.

“You can’t go down low enough and open up to getting knocked out. You owe a duty of care not only to the player with football, you also owe a duty of care to yourself.

“No one was hurt and I think it was probably the best of times as it ended.”

Despite his initial disappointment, Gutherson told Nine after the game that the Eels “probably shouldn’t let him get to this point in the game.”

Tonight’s result could have been very different if Gutherson had converted on Sivo’s 75th-minute try from the sideline, which could have forced a Golden Point end.

Ahead of tonight’s game, the Raiders received a cruel blow when it was revealed earlier in the week that star playmaker Jack Wighton and young star Xavier Savage would be unavailable.

As it stands, the Eels remain in fourth place on the NRL ladder, while the Raiders move up to eighth.

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