3 days ago
Steve Folkes' biting assessment of referee Tony Archer is expected to come under scrutiny by the NRL on Monday with the Bulldogs coach stepping close to a $10,000 fine.
Folkes branded as "disgraceful" one of Archer's decisions that led to Manly's opening try in the Dogs' 30-22 loss at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, while also raising questions over the referee's recent performances in the NRL.
"Mr Archer is clearly in pretty poor form at present," Folkes said at the post-match press conference.
"And that decision that he made leading up to their first try, I can't fathom it."
With the Dogs leading 10-0 midway through the first half, Archer contentiously ruled Ben Roberts had knocked on after fielding a kick on his own tryline, despite replays suggesting the five-eighth may have been tackled or had the ball stripped by Manly's Jamie Lyon.
Manly scored soon after to kick-start a run of 30-straight points.
"Ben Roberts was tackled, had hands placed on him and the guy proceeded to pick him up and drag him into the in goal area, loses the ball and (Archer) gives them the (scrum) feed," said Folkes.
"I mean that wouldn't have won us the game, but please, that was a disgraceful decision."
No coach has been issued with a breach notice so far this season for criticising a referee and Folkes may yet be saved from becoming the first as his comments did not question the integrity of Archer.
Under NRL guidelines, coaches are allowed to criticise a referee's performance, provided they don't accuse them of bias.
Of more concern for the Dogs may be a late hit from hooker Corey Hughes on Sea Eagles skipper Matt Orford.
Hughes crashed into Orford after the halfback had kicked the ball back in field for a flying Brett Stewart early in the second half.
Stewart, who had just returned to the field after receiving six stitches for a nasty cut under his right eye, sprinted more than 40 metres off a long run to leap high over Dogs skipper Andrew Ryan and score a spectacular try which gave Manly the lead for the first time of the night.
Stewart later had to tell Orford he caught the ball on the full with the halfback flat on his back and feeling "a bit dusty" after the Hughes hit.
"I don't remember too much," Orford said.
"I remember kicking the ball and being a bit dusty, that's about it.
"But I'm glad the play came off ... we do enough of them at training."
The Bulldogs lost in-form fullback Luke Patten to a back injury before kickoff, but with the club having the bye next week, are hopeful he will be right to play in a fortnight.
Manly also have the bye next round with several players suffering niggling injuries. Jason King (ankle) was of most concern, with the prop to undergo scans this week.