Sports

NRL 2021 Canberra Raiders vs Parramatta Eels scores highlights bunker controversy

By Chris De Silva and Marc Churches

The Canberra Raiders have gone back into the top eight following a thrilling 12-10 win over the Parramatta Eels in the Gold Coast.

Tonight’s game started in a bizarre fashion with neither team able to score any points during the first half, in what was the NRL’s first scoreless opening half since Round One of the 2019 season.

After a dour first half, Canberra notched back-to-back tries before the Eels stormed back late and only to be denied in controversial fashion.

Eels winger Maika Sivo crossed over in the 75th minute to cut the deficit to two points before nearly producing the match-winner with less than 10 seconds remaining.

The NRL bunker was forced to step in and determine whether any foul play or a shoulder charge occurred as Jordan Rapana charged towards Sivo in the corner and stopped him from grounding the ball.

Following a lengthy review, the bunker ultimately deemed the contact by Rapana to be fair, despite the pleas of Eels star Clint Gutherson, who was left livid with The Bunker’s call.

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

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

“I was okay with it, I agree with the officials,” Smith said on Nine’s coverage.

“I know there will be questions raised about Jordan’s contact with Maika Sivo and whether there was any arm or any action to try and wrap with his arms.”

“I’m okay with it,” Thurston added.

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

“That’s what you’re trained to do. That’s what you want from your fullback.”

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

“It’s commitment isn’t it? The game is on the line and I don’t think it’s possible to make a conventional tackle there,” he said on Nine’s coverage.

“You can’t get down low enough and open up yourself to getting knocked out. You’ve got a duty of care to not only the player with the football, you’ve got a duty of care to yourself as well.

“No one was injured and I think that was probably the best case scenario the way it ended up.”

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

Tonight’s result could have looked much different had Gutherson converted on Sivo’s 75th-minute try from the sideline, which potentially could’ve forced a Golden Point ending.

Heading into tonight’s match, the Raiders were dealt a cruel blow when it was revealed earlier in the week star playmaker Jack Wighton and young star Xavier Savage would be unavailable.

As it stands, the Eels remain in the fourth spot on the NRL ladder, while the Raiders move into eighth.

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