It turned out to be the most pivotal moment in the Storm’s golden point victory over the Roosters last night, yet nobody noticed it. At least no one who mattered.
Down by a point, Melbourne regained a short kick-off in the final 30 seconds and worked their way back into field-goal position, which saw Ryan Papenhuyzen nab the one-pointer with seconds to spare, sending the match into golden point extra-time.
But on closer inspection it’s clear something was amiss in the play-the-ball leading up to the match-tying play – a fact that soon surfaced on social media with eagle-eyed fans snapping zoomed-in screen grabs of a moment that warranted further examination.
Fox Sports presenter Adam Peacock was a lone voice in the media who queried the play, ending a tweet that commented on the high quality of the game with: “(But, um, did Brandon Smith drop that before the last play the ball?)”
Kiwi international Smith did his utmost to get up quickly and execute a quick ruck, but in doing so he mishandled the ball and almost certainly knocked it on.
Having seen the reaction on social media following the match, with some fans describing a “blatant knock-on”, Wide World of Sports put our video experts to work to check the all-important play and the result, which you can see by clicking on the video at the top of this article, speaks for itself.
In normal time the play is extremely difficult to spot, with the camera angle changing quickly to capture Papenhuyzen’s field-goal attempt.
That perhaps explains why it was missed by the broadcasters, with commentators for both Nine and Fox Sports describing the play without any query on the play-the-ball.
The referee and other match officials also missed it and it wasn’t a topic of discussion in either coach’s press conference after the match.
Even the Roosters players seemed to miss the possible infraction, with no complaints made to the officials, despite the fact that had the field-goal been chalked off, a win would have been in their keeping.
Had the Roosters players noticed the infraction there is confusion over whether or not they could have used a captain’s challenge to have the field-goal overturned. An NRL insider has told Wide World of Sports that it would have been too late to lodge a challenge after the field-goal landed, even though the knock on occurred in the play-the-ball.
The play ended up being pivotal in the result, with the Storm going on to win the match in extra time.
Cameron Smith sealed the victory when he slotted an easy penalty goal from directly in front after Roosters hooker Jake Friend gave away an infringement attempting to slow the Storm’s attack; in some ways an anti-climactic finish to a drama-filled contest that will go down as the match of the year.