“To be truthful, we probably shouldn’t have been in that position and coming down to the last play.
“Probably the first half we were guilty of … certain things you can’t do with these rule changes. Our end-of-set options could have been better. But I was impressed with the way this group fought back and never gave up.”
With just 40 seconds left on the clock, Trbojevic sensed he was about to be belted by Eels winger Maika Sivo and threw the ball right to winger Reuben Garrick.
Garrick went on to score and started thinking about the sideline conversion.
But Cummins motioned the ball after getting the heads-up from his touchie. Sea Eagles players looked on in disbelief. Trbojevic could not bring himself to get back on his feet.
“I thought I threw it back, I didn’t get to see too much of it. You get those ones, disappointing one but that’s footy I guess,” Trbojevic said.
TV commentators were not as complimentary with Mick Ennis telling Fox Sports’ post-game coverage: “It’s the contact with Sivo that knocks Tom Trbojevic back, which makes the pass to some degree look like it goes forward, if at all, but it completely doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. It’s a massive blow.”
Had there been two referees on the field it would not have made a difference, Annesley said.
“The forward-pass call was incorrect. But it was called by the touch judge just as it would have been last year. A second referee would have had no impact on that decision,” he said.
The late drama evoked memories of the Warriors being left shattered in the exact same spot at the western Sydney venue last year when skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck thought he had thrown the match-winning pass for Gerard Beale, only for it to be called forward.
Manly always looked like they were coming in the second half. Even when they trailed 18-2 right after the break, it wasn’t a true reflection of the contest.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur said he had only seen the Trbojevic pass once and was unsure whether it was the right call. He also hinted the Eels may have been unfortunate to be denied their own try when Oregon Kaufusi was ruled to have knocked on in the second half.
Manly must regroup when they host Brisbane on Thursday night. There could be some concerns over workhorse prop Addin Fonua-Blake who picked up a cork in his left shoulder late in the game.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.