The Eels were handed a decisive, controversial penalty try that left TV commentators clashing over the contentious call.
The Eels were handed a controversial penalty try in the first half against Penrith after hooker Reed Mahoney came desperately close to scoring from a Shaun Lane offload.
The Eels backrower flicked the ball behind to Mahoney, who caught it with the arm of Jaeman Salmon draped over his shoulder.
It ended up being a decisive decision as the Eels held on for a 22-20 win.
The 24-year-old pushed his way to the line, with Salmon, fullback Dylan Edwards and prop Matt Eisenhuth coming in to make a last-ditch effort to stop the try.
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“This is a contentious call coming up,” Fox League’s Andrew Voss said as the Parramatta side trailed by two points as the score sat 6-4.
While the defenders were successful in blocking Mahoney from grounding the ball, the Bunker ruled that the Eels gun would have found the line if Salmon had not held him prior to touching the ball.
“Reed Mahoney is the support player here, Jaeman Salmon already has contact with him before he receives the ball,” Bunker official Ashley Klein said.
“There is quite a gap between the nearest defender being Matt Eisenhuth and Dylan Edwards, without the interference from Jaeman Salmon we believe that Reed Mahoney would have got there earlier in a one-on-one situation and a try could have been scored.”
Andrew Voss believed the Bunker made the correct decision, claiming he supporting the “logic” of the call.
“I support the logic of the process there running through what happened, I hope it doesn’t decide the match but I agree the point they have reached here,” Voss said.
“I agree with you, I think the logic around it that he would have got to the try line if there wasn’t any hands on him,” Fox League’s Shane Flanagan said.
“But Ivan Cleary has just fallen out of his hospital bed.”
Fox League analyst Michael Ennis disagreed with his colleagues.
“There is no doubt he was holding him, but Edwards was already committed to that Lane tackle, so there is plenty of space there for Mahoney,” Ennis said.
“Look at the gap here… I don’t think he gets there.
“It is a tricky one isn’t it, it really is.”
At halftime, the crucial cross-town clash sits at 10-10, with the Eels unable to keep out the Panthers just prior to halftime.
Originally published as ‘Look at the gap’: NRL divided after Eels awarded rare penalty try