“Riddled with controversy”: Panthers lose to Wigan, and officials, in World Club Challenge

Penrith's Taylan May desperately tries to get the ball down. Photo: Fox League.
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The World Club Challenge has been marred in controversy with several key refereeing decisions in the spotlight after Wigan’s 16-12 win over Penrith at DW Stadium.

The Warriors’ victory will forever be remembered for a number of howlers that left fans bewildered.

In the 52nd minute, the referee and video referee awarded what would ultimately be the winning try to Wigan’s Jake Wardle.

But replays showed that only did Wardle promote the ball after being tackled, he never made it to the line.

Then, Liam Martin was penalised for a one-on-one strip that would have put Penrith right on the attack at a crucial stage of the game.

It was an extraordinary decision with replays showing it was an age between other defenders dropping off the tackle and Martin taking the ball.

The icing on the controversy cake came in the final play of the game when Taylan May appeared to cross in the corner to level the match at the death.

But the on-field referee sent it up as ‘no try’ and the video referee couldn’t find conclusive evidence to overturn the decision. On the balance of probabilities, May got the ball down.

Fox League commentator Braith Anasta declared the match was “riddled with controversy”.

“There was three or four moments in that game that proved pivotal,” Anasta said.

“The referee wasn’t on their side tonight.”

Former NRL and Super League star James Graham said: “No doubt the refereeing decisions will be scrutinised”, but credited Wigan’s stoic defence.

On the Martin strip, Graham said: “It was the wrong decision and it didn’t need to be.”

Earlier, Penrith struggled with last tackle options and couldn’t win the possession battle.

Tries to Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards saw them take a 12-10 lead into half-time but a huge crowd of more than 24,000 spurred the Warriors on in the second half.

The loss means Penrith are yet to win a World Club Challenge.

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