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Bunker officials dropped after controversial try ruling

Bunker officials Steve Clark and Ben Galea have been dropped after incorrectly awarding a try to Cronulla forward Jack Williams in the Sharks' 28-24 defeat of St George Illawarra on Saturday night.

Dragons fullback Matt Dufty revealed that he had tried to challenge the decision on the field after insisting he had grounded the ball first, while coach Paul McGregor blasted the call after the match.

McGregor called for accountability after replays appeared to show Dufty had got his hand under that of Williams as they scrambled for a Shaun Johnson grubber that ricocheted off St George Illawarra prop Blake Lawrie.

NRL head of football Graham Annesely responded swiftly by announcing that Jared Maxwell and Bryan Norrie would replace Clark and Galea at Sunday's Titans-Panthers match.

“The bunker decision to award a try to Jack Williams in tonight’s Sharks-Dragons game was incorrect. Steve Clark and Ben Galea were due to officiate again tomorrow in the Titans-Panthers game as bunker officials," Annesley said.

"They have now been relegated, and will be replaced by Jared Maxwell and Brian Norrie.”

Match Highlights: Sharks v Dragons

With the Sharks hanging on after Dufty and winger Jason Saab bombed tries from kicks in the last three minutes, the call was the major talking point after the match.

Dufty was stunned when the try was awarded and told referee Grant Atkins he wanted to use the captain’s challenge to force the Bunker to review the incident further, but it cannot be used in those circumstances.

“The boys asked me when it went to video ref, ‘did you get it down’ and I said ‘100 per cent I got it down’,” Dufty said.

Bunker officials dropped for Williams try ruling

“I haven’t seen it but the coach told me after the game that I had grounded it first and I said that I thought I did.

“Even after they awarded the try I was pretty shocked. I asked if we could challenge it but he said it was the video ref.”

McGregor said he had no doubt the Bunker had gotten the decision wrong.

"It was pretty clear, right,” McGregror told reporters after the match.

“How do they keep getting it wrong and who's accountable for it because it's a stuff up and in the end, there's the difference?

"All you guys should make a song and dance and do something about it because it's not good enough."

However, Sharks coach John Morris said there had still been 71 minutes left in the game and questioned whether Dufty had fumbled the ball in the lead up to a spectacular first half try by Dragons centre Zac Lomax

"What goes around comes around in this game and at the end of an 80-minute game like that, I don't think the Jack Williams try, if it was proven to be no try, was such a huge play,” Morris said.

After taking an early lead, the Dragons lost control of the game and were unable to regain it until midway through the second half.

Despite losing halfback Adam Clune and forward Trent Merrin at halftime after both failed HIAs, St George Illawarra finished the stronger and had momentum after tries to Lomax and winger Mikaele Ravalawa.

Lomax gets a double from a Dufty flick pass

Dufty had a hand in both tries and then had the chance to snatch a late victory when he dived on a Ben Hunt grubber into the Cronulla in-goal three minutes from full-time but he fumbled the ball.

“I felt like I let the boys and the team down there at the end of the game,” he said.

“Nine times out of 10 at training I finish those little grubbers in behind but I thought I left the ground a second too early and you’ve got to finish those.”

Saab also lost the ball in the in-goal after catching a Corey Norman kick in the 79th minute and the Dragons fell short of a third consecutive win.

“They were much more physical than us in the first 40,” McGregor said.

“We showed effort and grit to be in a winnable position with two opportunities in the last three minutes.

“We have to be better at the start. I know we led but they got forward pretty comfortably. We have to be a lot more physical.”

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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