FURIOUS head coach Craig Lingard described the penalty that led to his Keighley Cougars side’s defeat as “pathetic” and urged the Rugby Football League to clamp down on ruck issues.
The League 1 part-timers were level 12-12 against Championship Bradford Bulls yesterday and hoping to push on to cause a Coral Challenge Cup fourth round shock.
However, Keighley centre Will Cooke was penalsied for lying in the ruck in the 66th minute – despite being motionless and awaiting treatment for a head knock.
Elliot Minchella struck the goal and Bradford held on for a 14-12 success.
“It’s one thing that’s irritating me about rugby league at the moment,” said Lingard.
“We talk about footballers diving but this is pathetic how players try to put a foot on an opponent in the ruck and then dive on the floor.
“The RFL need to do something. It’s happening nearly every game.
“In this instance, he (Bradford player) didn’t even get obstructed; he’s played the ball and is going to pass it the other way. But the ref’s then penalised our lad on the floor who’s obviously got a head injury.
“We talk about player welfare. You have got to use common sense. At that moment in time, the game is tied and an absolutely pathetic penalty has been given that’s decided a game.
“I’d never blame a ref for an outcome – they don’t knock on, drop balls or miss tackles – but for one decision to effectively cost lads winning pay is pretty poor. I feel dejected for them.
“But the effort was outstanding against a full-time team. I’m really proud of them.”
Bradford coach John Kear said: “I‘ve got to applaud Keighley; they were magnificent.
“Their enthusiasm was first-class, they caused us problems when they had the ball and they defended really well.
“There’s a bit of disappointment about how we came today. Our attitude stunk.
“I’ve told the players that. I thought we came here expecting Keighley just to roll over and accept defeat but it doesn’t happen like that in rugby league and certainly not in Challenge Cup ties.”