Adam O’Brien left fuming in press conference over missed penalty call on Kalyn Ponga

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Knights coach Adam O’Brien and a chorus of booing Newcastle fans voiced their disdain for a late missed penalty call in Thursday night’s NRL thriller as Gorden Tallis took aim at the Roosters’ slowing-down ruck tactics.

O’Brien believes it was “pretty clear” Roosters winger Fetalaiga Pauga should have been binned — and his side given a chance to level scores with a penalty goal — in the dying minutes of his side’s loss in Newcastle.

Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga made a break in the 79th minute with his side trailing 22-20 and was brought down just before the Roosters’ 40-metre line.

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Ponga tried as quickly as possible to play the ball but was stifled by Pauga and the Knights star pleaded with referee Gerard Sutton for a penalty that would have given his side a penalty shot to tie the game.

The same incident is regularly ruled a penalty in NRL games, but in the heat of the moment with the game on the line the whistle never came from Sutton and the Roosters hung on.

A frustrated O’Brien said the incident was part of a “theme” when it came to officiating either sides’ ruck speeds.

“I empathise, these fans, they know footy. I don’t think I’ve heard a stadium so frustrated, never heard booing like that at the end of a game so there must be something in it,” O’Brien said.

“Obviously the Kalyn one at the end stands out, you’d like to think that (is penalised) as a professional foul, sin bin, and we kick the goal… I think it was pretty clear, that one.

“With the ruck speed, it just felt like there were two different standards there. Not taking anything away from them, they work hard at their defence and stack really well, but just felt like we didn’t get many rewards.”

NRL legend Tallis took a cheeky crack at “the Roosters way” post-match, suggesting they did everything they could to slow down the Knights’ play-the-ball in the crucial dying minutes.

“I thought the Roosters bent the rules late in that set of six and the refs you have got to have a lot of fortitude to go ‘six again’ because there was a couple of really slow play-the-balls,” Tallis said on The Late Show with Matty Johns.

“Play to the whistle,” Roosters legend Bryan Fletcher interjected.

“Well he didn’t blow it,” Tallis fired back.

“You can’t tell me…”

“He got his arm caught,” Fletcher said of a late Brandon Smith tackle.

“Where does your hatred of the Roosters come from?”

“It’s not, mate it’s just the Roosters way,” Tallis replied.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson was blunt in his response to claims Ponga should have got a penalty for Smith’s spoiling tactics late in the game.

“No,” Robinson said when asked about the play.

Veteran journalist Barry Toohey disagreed with Robinson about the slowing tactics.

O’Brien also took some responsibility for the loss and said his side needs to be better in certain areas.

“Whingeing about this tonight isn’t going to help anyone, it doesn’t help these guys,” he said.

“There was some stuff that we needed to do better and stuff I needed to do better, I think I got the interchanges wrong in the first half.

“So it’s not all that (decision at the end) but I’ve got a really disappointed dressing room that fought bloody hard tonight and me whingeing in here ain’t going to help them.”

Knights skipper Jayden Brailey also took issue with the ruck speed.

“It felt very quick when they had the ball that’s for sure,” Brailey said.

“And I thought our boys were fighting pretty hard to get some ruck speed.

“Obviously you are not going to get every one, but our boys were fighting hard and yeah it was just too qucik out there.”

Originally published as Knights coach left fuming over controversial no-call in dying stages

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