‘Drop-goal’ referee Bentham says video call would not have spared Huddersfield

Referee Phil Bentham.
Referee Phil Bentham.
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MATCH official Phil Bentham has revealed Huddersfield Giants would still be out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup even if he had sought assistance from the video referee over Danny Brough’s controversial ‘drop-goal’.

Bentham incurred the wrath of the West Yorkshire club after ruling out the Huddersfield captain’s attempted kick in the 79th minute of Sunday’s dramatic fourth round tie against St Helens.

With the scores locked at 
16-16, Brough was adamant his drop-goal attempt had been successful only to see the referee signal it wide.

Bentham opted against seeking clarification from video referee Ian Smith, whom he had used on five occasions previously, and, moments later, St Helens scrum-half Luke Walsh scored a one-pointer at the other end that sent the visitors through.

Reigning Man of Steel Brough was incandescent with rage as he left the pitch, remonstrating with the official, and Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson was similarly scathing afterwards.

Likewise, many thousands watching live on the BBC felt one replay shot showed the ball – whose flight was high above the top of the posts – on target.

However, in an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, Bentham insists he was correct and has the full backing of Smith, too.

Asked why he did not make use of the replays, he said: “I was in the right position to make the call so got a good view of the kick and it always stays left of the post. To be honest, it didn’t occur to me to go to the video referee as I’d made the decision.

“We’ve reviewed it (Monday) and the video referee says – with the two different camera angles available – it was inconclusive so, even if I’d asked him, he’d have had to come back to me to make the call anyway.

“Like everyone says, one angle shows it might have gone over, but the other shows different.”

Bentham, 42, could understand Brough’s frustrations and the ire of the home support.

“At that stage of the game, and the importance of it all, you are really aware players are going to be emotional on those occasions,” he said. “I’m guessing, if I was playing, I’d probably be thinking ‘that’s gone against me’.

“Danny was 100 per cent it went over. That was his quote. I was of the opposite view.”

Bentham, who has twice taken charge of the Challenge Cup final, insists he has no regrets.

“If we’d have come in (yesterday) and the whole (referees) group decided it was a goal there would have been a lot of regret but that’s not the case,” he added. “They’re close calls and someone has to make them. It’s either me or the video referee, but I was happy with my decision.”

In Bentham’s defence, referees are often castigated for not making enough decisions themselves and referring to the video official too often.

“There is that element to it, but also there is the massive argument that we have the technology so we should use it,” he continued. “It’s about getting the right balance and using it correctly.

“Here, I saw it go wide from where I was stood which was between Danny Brough and the posts. As he kicked the ball it sailed straight over my head, I turned around and could follow where it went.

“Ironically, this was the first live match this season where we didn’t use Ref Cam (head camera) which would have shown that.

“Another solution is getting taller posts. I know for the Grand Final last year they got some new posts in, which were about a foot taller, so it can be done. That’s maybe a solution to prevent this happening in the future.”

Huddersfield’s Brett Ferres could be banned for four to eight games tonight after being charged with a Grade E dangerous throw on Saints’ Jonny Lomax that earned the England second-row a red card.

Castleford prop Lynch’s Wembley dream: Page 18.