Ricky Stuart, the head coach of the Canberra Raiders, did not hold back during a fiery press conference following his team’s 29-18 loss to the Brisbane Broncos on Saturday night. Stuart expressed his frustration with the match officials, suggesting that they had failed to do their jobs properly. Despite the loss, the Broncos‘ winger, Selwyn Cobbo, scored three tries, and it was another exceptional performance from Reece Walsh that helped secure the win for Brisbane and put them in pole position for the minor premiership. With only one game remaining in the regular season, a win against Melbourne on Thursday night would secure the top position for the Broncos.
Stuart specifically took issue with referee Adam Gee and the Bunker for some controversial calls during the match. One noteworthy decision was the sin-binning of Jordan Rapana for an attempted trip on Cobbo when he scored, giving the Broncos a two-point lead. Stuart also questioned a penalty called against Hudson Young for an obstruction that occurred after the Raiders had gained possession from a Brisbane dropout. According to Stuart, Young made minimal contact with Cobbo as he went for the ball. The contentious decisions throughout the game led Stuart to believe that his team had been on the receiving end of unfavorable calls for the entirety of the match.
Stuart’s frustration was evident during the press conference, but he acknowledged that expressing his unfiltered views would result in a fine from the NRL. He remarked that the decisions against his team led to an outcry even from the most unlikely supporters, saying, “Why do you reckon little old ladies are sitting up on the chairs going off their heads?” Stuart, while accepting that there was nothing he could do to change the past, made references to the NRL referees boss, Jarrod Maxwell, and hinted that the officials’ performance had not been up to par. He alluded to certain issues but refrained from elaborating further.
When asked about how his team could move on from the defeat, Stuart’s frustration only grew. He responded by saying, “Don’t ask me questions I can’t answer,” indicating his discontent with the situation. Stuart revealed that he had been delayed in attending the press conference as he was dealing with phone calls from the NRL and the media manager. He expressed his frustration, stating that he was upset because people were not doing their jobs properly.
Despite some controversial moments, the Broncos took advantage of the extra player after Rapana was sin-binned and secured the victory. Cobbo managed to score his third try of the night, extending the Broncos‘ lead to 24-18. Reece Walsh, who had already had an impressive performance, added a field goal before slicing through the Raiders‘ defense to score a try of his own. These final plays solidified the Broncos‘ win.
In the first half, Walsh had set up Cobbo and Kotoni Staggs for tries with pinpoint passes. However, the Raiders fought back with brilliant offloads from captain Elliott Whitehead, resulting in tries for Matt Frawley and Nick Cotric. Both teams showed their attacking prowess, with Brisbane’s Ezra Mam producing a dazzling play to put his team ahead, and Hudson Young‘s well-timed line run ensuring a level score of 16-16 at halftime.
For the match, the Raiders made an interesting positional change, moving regular five-eighth Jack Wighton to the centers and having Frawley fill in at number six. This decision meant that veteran Jarrod Croker was left on the bench and only saw three minutes of action. It is uncertain if this was Croker’s last game in Canberra before retiring.