There were tense scenes in the closing stages of the Chiefs’ 19-13 victory over the Reds at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday as the hosts repelled wave after wave of Queensland attack on their own tryline in hope of preserving the scoreline for a much-needed win.


Although they managed to hold out the visitors, their job could have been made a lot easier had a try early in the first half been awarded to young Chiefs wing Etene Nanai-Seturo.

The 19-year-old looked to have scored in the left-hand corner inside the opening six minutes despite the best defensive efforts of Reds fullback Matt McGahan and openside flanker Liam Wright.

Many, including television commentators Rikki Swannell, Willie Lose and Richard Turner, were convinced that the teenage prodigy had dotted down to open the scoring for the match, but after referee Angus Gardner consulted with television match official Glenn Newman, the play was ruled as a ‘no-try’ due to a knock on.

Gardner’s on-field decision was ‘try’, meaning Newman had to find a ‘clear and obvious’ reason to overturn the original decision.

Replays at normal speed appeared to show that Nanai-Seturo had grounded the ball, but as Newman slowed replays down to a frame-by-frame motion, a slight gap between the ball and Nanai-Seturo’s grasp was evident.

Etene Nanai-Seturo’s disallowed try. Photo / RugbyPass


Consequently, Newman told Gardner to overturn his decision, leaving the Chiefs, commentators and the majority of the Waikato Stadium crowd stunned at the decision.

It is believed that Newman watched replays of the play from a different angle from what was broadcasted both on TV and on the big screen at Waikato Stadium, but a failure to show that angle to spectators, commentators and players alike left many in disbelief at the decision.

“I didn’t see it [the separation], did you?” Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper said post-match, with skipper Sam Cane expressing similar sentiments.

“I literally just took one glance and thought ‘try time’,” he said.

“We jogged back, we talked about we were going to do from the next kickoff. I haven’t seen it again, to be honest, so hard to comment.”

Cooper, who had expressed concerns for inconsistencies shown by TMOs earlier in the week, and Cane weren’t the only ones perplexed by the controversial call, with many taking to Twitter to vent their confusion.


Reds head coach Brad Thorn held a different view to most, however, as he commended the refereeing of the under-fire officials.

“We had two disallowed in the first half, one where Sam [Cane] basically dragged our guy over the tryline. But I’m happy, those guys do a tough job every week. I think they’re doing a good job there,” he said.

“Like I keep saying, it’s a tough old gig, the crowd doesn’t usually cheer for the referees. A lot of people critique it, how about having a go at it first and then see how it goes.”

Nevertheless, the Chiefs had the last laugh, with their victory moving them up to 10th spot, just two points shy of a play-offs spot, while the Reds remain in 14th place, five points off the pace of the top eight.

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