NRL admits forward-pass error in Eels’ preliminary-final win over Cowboys


NRL head of football Graham Annesley has conceded that Parramatta’s first try in their preliminary final win over North Queensland came as a result of a forward pass.

Annesley claimed the sixth-minute Will Penisini try that came after a pass from Parramatta half-back Mitchell Moses should not have been awarded.

Moses was off balance and weaving his way through the Cowboys line when the pass went towards back-rower Isaiah Papali’i. The Eels went on to win the game 24-20, sealing a spot in their first grand final since 2009.

“I’m prepared to concede that on balance and on review that the pass out of the hands was forward,” Annesley said. “The thing that determines whether a pass is forward or not, is how the ball comes out of the hands.

“I think what’s happened here is because the way Mitch Moses has pirouetted in the tackle, the momentum that tackle has meant the ball has come out of his hands in a forward direction. We think that it’s forward based on the motion of the hands.”

The bunker is unable to adjudicate on forward passes, meaning that referee Grant Atkins had no option to seek a second opinion.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten refused to condemn the officials for failing to pick up on the forward pass, instead lamenting his team throwing away a 20-12 lead in the second half of Friday’s game.

The NRL has previously indicated a desire to bring in forward-pass technology but has yet to introduce it.

It comes as Moses has revealed how he told coach Brad Arthur he could not let teammates down when he missed the birth of his first child to pursue a lifelong dream of ending Parramatta’s title drought.

Moses admitted he was entering the biggest game of his life with considerable weight lifted from his shoulders, after a week in which he not only became a father but also attended his grandmother’s funeral.

The 28-year-old had last Thursday travelled to Townsville to play North Queensland with his baby girl not due until this week, believing he would be able to return in time. However, the situation changed quickly on Friday, when Moses was told partner Bri had gone into labour and the birth was likely imminent.

Forced to decide whether to dash back to Sydney in the faint hope of making it in time for the birth, or stay in Townsville for the preliminary final, Moses ultimately stayed with his team and witnessed the delivery via FaceTime.

“Brad [Arthur] said, ‘What are you doing? What are you still doing here? Get out of here’,” Moses recalled. “And I just looked at him and said ‘I can’t, I can’t leave these boys here’.

“How hard we’ve worked all year and obviously I would have loved to be there for my first daughter but it’s just how it happened. I got to share a moment on FaceTime with the family and [see] how she was born.

“It was just a rollercoaster of emotions last week and (I’m) happy the week is over. So, now we can focus on the big dance.”