Round 23 has seen probably the worst standard of refereeing across the board in a long while. Whilst some games may contain �dubious� decisions for any given round, this wasn�t the case here. Most of the games played contained decisions which were not of first grade calibre.
The game of the round in terms of refereeing performance goes to Shayne �The Pain� Hayne. Strange as it may seem, Hayne performed admirably. His performance was good considering his past efforts with the whistle. By his standards, he was great. I still don�t think he has what it takes to be a first grade referee but compared to the rubbish that was dished out by the others on the field, he may just get another go.
As a referee myself, I know how hard it is to get the calls right 100% of the time, but some of the decisions I saw on the weekend made me wince.
Paul Simpkins: Knights v Manly
After a few dusty efforts, Simpkins pulled his finger out to a degree last week. He was on his game this time round. That was, up until late in the game.
His signals were ok. They could have been better considering his experience. His control of the game wasn�t 100% on the mark but it was ok given the situation. Whistle wise, he was his usual good self.
But with one blow, or lack there of I should say, the finger he pulled out was lodged back in. Steve Matai certainly, in my books, made a play for that ball and the scrum should have gone to the Knights. Whilst Newcastle may have had cause to be a little miffed with the decision, I don�t condone their actions one iota. Johns in particular was wrong to go off his head at the officials.
Overall I would say Simpkins was ok up until that decision at the end. His whole game went down the gurgler with that one decision and it certainly puts his chances of the big one at the end of the season in doubt.
(The touch judge can offer advice to the referee, but the referee himself is the one to make the calls).
Gavin Badger: Warriors v Cowboys
This was a really painful game to watch. I liken it to the sound of nails scraping along a blackboard. The Cowboys were pathetic and they got a little hot under the collar.
Badger has been improving from week to week, but for every step he took, he took two back with this game. Some questionable calls were made including a blatant two man stripping of the ball and a scrum was awarded instead of a penalty against the offending side.
The frustration told on the Cowboys especially Luke O�Donnell who was sent off for a forearm to the head of Lance Hohaia. This wasn�t a send off offence and I think although O�Donnell probably does deserve to get charged, he certainly wasn�t worthy of being sent off.
Overall, Badger�s control let him down and I think he found it hard to keep it together. A big improvement is needed for next week.
Jason Robinson: Panthers v Roosters
�Robbo� was certainly in need of an improvement after last week. This wasn�t going to be an easy game either.
Robinson�s form has been up and down and much of that has to do with concentration. He has one of the best whistles in the competition and his signals are very good.
He was decent this game, without being a stand out. He had good signals, was positioned well and his voice is becoming more audible which is a step in the right direction. He doesn�t have a big set of pipes on him so he must utilise what he has to maximum effect.
Overall, this was an improvement on last week. I like the commitment he shows and I hope he keeps it together and keeps going. Won�t get a semi-final but will certainly be in the reckoning.
Tony Archer: Eels v Sharks
For a weekend of poor refereeing across the board, Archer was again as solid as his past few weeks. I think he may go further in the finals than just the first week if he keeps up this recent solid form.
Signal wise he is getting better. (I will sound like a broken record if I keep talking about his whistle. You all know how I feel about that). His positioning is good too. Technically, he was very sound without being outstanding.
Overall, he is improving from week to week. He is the most consistent referee running around at the moment and I really do think he will threaten the top 3 refs.
Shayne Hayne: Broncos v Storm
I thought I would find it hard to be objective when one of my least favourite refs was reffing my favourite side, but I was suitably impressed by Hayne.
The first half was his best I have seen in ages. Blew the whistle at the right times, played good advantages, his positioning was good and signal wise he was sound.
He dropped off a bit in the second half but not a great deal. He was still good and he needs to bottle that for next round.
Overall, his best game for ages. If he can keep going in this vein, he may just make it as a first grade referee. Performance of the round so far.
Sean Hampstead: Dragons v Bulldogs
I am really worried with Hampstead. He seems to be slipping lately and doesn�t show any signs of getting out of the funk.
This was a huge game. Talked up in the media, the players came out firing. Hampstead was off with some of his calls and his control of the game really needs to be looked at if he wants to book his ticket for the finals.
Technically, with signals he was good and positioning wise he was good, but not great. His whistle was good but it is his control and concentration that need quantum leaps in improvement.
Overall, with his experience and standing in the game, he should be doing a lot better than he is. It�s time to knuckle down and really get the hunger back.
Steve Clark: Tigers v Raiders
This season I have seen Clark improve. He was always a decent referee but this season has seen him get a drive that hasn�t been there.
His fitness is what I question most about him but I have noticed in the past that he is prone to brain farts or a big lapse in concentration.
With golden point extra time in effect, a Canberra player rushed off the goal line a bit hastily and was thus offside. The fact he gained that little extra yard enabled him to interfere with a field goal attempt. No penalty was awarded. Clark was in a good position to rule on it.
Overall, that one little error did end up helping to decide the fate of the game. Instead of what would have been an easy penalty kick to give the Tigers a win, became an opportunity for Canberra to mount an assault and that�s what happened.
A huge effort is needed to regain some respect for the next round.