14 Apr 2024

‘Definitely' a penalty: The dramatic events that led to the Warriors' draw with the Sea Eagles

8:27 am on 14 April 2024

Warriors coach Andrew Webster backed a crucial decision that led to an inconclusive golden point period in Saturday's 22-all draw with the Sea Eagles.

With the Warriors trailing by two points as time expired, Shaun Johnson launched an unsuccessful two-point field goal attempt. He was contacted by Sea Eagles prop Josh Aloiai in his follow through, with referee Chris Butler reviewing the incident and awarding a penalty in front of the posts - which Johnson kicked to level the scores.

"I think it was definitely the right call," said Webster post-match, before noting that the Warriors knew full well about the new directive to protect kickers.

"Fortunate for us and unfortunate for them. They're the rules and that's how it is ... I mean, we certainly know what's been happening lately with Freddy, so that's the situation."

Warriors hooker Freddy Lussick was suspended last week for a challenge on Lachlan Ilias, that left the Rabbitohs reserve grade five-eighth with a broken leg.

Unsurprisingly, Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold and captain Daly Cherry-Evans were not quite as enthusiastic about Butler's call.

"It's something I don't want to make comment on," said Seibold. "If I say it shouldn't have been a penalty I'll be called a whinger. If I say it should've been a penalty then potentially I'm not looking after the players in my group. It was adjudicated a penalty and we just have to get on with it."

"You've got to roll with the punches now," said Cherry-Evans. "There's protection for the kickers these days, and the whole league is adjusting to that now."

Johnson, who had only moments earlier kicked a clutch sideline conversion of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's try, was supportive of the directive.

"Kicker protection is at the forefront of everything at the moment. I got a cork in the leg, the ref reviewed it and that's the call they made. I'm glad that it didn't end up worse because I've been in that position before and come out a lot worse."

Earlier, the Warriors had found themselves down 16-0 after handing the Sea Eagles plenty of field position that saw Cherry-Evans score twice. It took a Jazz Tevaga try and Watene-Zelezniak intercept just before the break to keep them in touch, but a Ben Trbojevic try made it a two-score deficit that held until a minute from full time.

Ultimately, Webster was pleased with the fight shown by the Warriors, who sit in sixth on the NRL ladder for now.

"I'm glad at the end we were the team throwing more punches."