NRL bunker official axed after Matt Lodge decision

The NRL have announced they have stood down bunker official Steve Chiddy, after his decision to award a controversial late penalty in last weekend’s Canberra and New Zealand game.

Matt Lodge stayed on the ground clutching his face, after copping a perceived high-shot from Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh.

With less than two minutes remaining on the clock, the Warriors prop took a hit-up deep in enemy territory. However, after the tackle had been completed, Lodge refused to get back up and play the ball. At the time, his side were trailing 20-18.

The decision of the bunker official to award a penalty meant he had deemed the incidental contact as a reportable offence. Initially, Chris Butler – the referee on-field – had decided not to penalise Canberra.

Chiddy’s review and subsequent penalty gave Reece Walsh a chance to equalise right in front of the sticks, much to the surprise of the crowd at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium.

Walsh made no mistake. Then, Shaun Johnson booted a golden-point field goal to hand the Warriors a 21-20 victory. It condemned Canberra to their fifth straight defeat.

Speaking after the game, Ricky Stuart expressed his frustration with how the Raiders had blown yet another lead.

“Publicly, I am lost for comment in regard to the quality of that performance in the second half,” he said.

“And for any loyal fan and any real fan we have got left- I feel really embarrassed and sorry for them.”

Chiddy’s removal from officiating duties comes almost a year to the day after he was last demoted.

That stemmed from his decisions in the box during a Roosters loss to Parramatta, which left coach Trent Robinson labelling the referees ‘incompetent’.

His frustration mainly centred around Dylan Brown going unpunished for his knee-first tackle on Drew Hutchison, that left him with a punctured lung.

Meanwhile, Brad Fittler was bemused by the decision from the bunker to review the contact in the first place and then award a penalty to Lodge.

“If I’m in the bunker… they had absolutely no feel for the game,” Fittler said on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.

“I saw that, I’m going, ‘There’s no way in the world I’m giving a penalty in this situation’. He barely touched him.”

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