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Shane Flanagan lets rip at referees after Sharks lose to Cowboys

Sporting News logo Sporting News 10/09/2017
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Livid Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has let rip at match officials, documenting 10 key decisions he believes robbed the premiers of victory over North Queensland in Sunday's elimination final.

A visibly upset Flanagan entered the post-match press conference carrying a piece of paper on which he had detailed the decisions he felt referees Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger botched.

The courageous Cowboys twice trailed by eight before stealing a 15-14 win courtesy of a Michael Morgan field goal in extra-time.

Flanagan started his press conference by declaring: "It was disgraceful. I know how Trent Barrett feels."

He then rattled off his long list of grievances:

- The James Maloney sin-binning for a professional foul just before halftime; Flanagan believes it warranted a penalty at best.

- Luke Lewis continually knocked off the ball in kick chases.

- Ricky Leutele being tackled without the ball, forcing winger Sosaia Feki into touch and a handover of possession in the second half.

- Jayden Brailey ruled to have played at the ball when making a tackle on a kicking Michael Morgan, giving the Cowboys the scrum feed.

- Jason Taumalolo punching the ball from Luke Lewis's grasp. The referee ruled knock on.

- Taumalolo being awarded a try via the bunker despite – in Flanagan's view – no clear evidence he grounded the ball.

- A knock on ruled against Andrew Fifita close to the Sharks line. Flanagan believes the ball went backward between the prop's legs.

- Paul Gallen denied a penalty late in normal time after losing possession at the play-the-ball right on the North Queensland line.

- Matt Prior penalised for raking the ball loose late in normal time, enabling the Cowboys to square things up at 14-all.

- An 11-5 penalty count against Cronulla

"They were crucial decisions, all wrong," Flanagan insisted.

"The biggest games of the year and we want it right – or close to right.

"Let the teams decide it. I've never seen anything like it.

"It definitely impacted on the result.

"We've got to fix this (the refereeing) up."

Shattered Sharks skipper Paul Gallen shared his coach's disgust at the refereeing.

Cronulla's loss ends their hopes of becoming the first club since 1992-93 to win back-to-back premierships.

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