Pay’s fury as controversial bunker call ends Dogs’ year
Update: A frustrated Dean Pay has slammed a "ridiculous" bunker ruling that has ended Canterbury's finals dream.
In a tough and scrappy game in Townsville the locals got home after another controversial try was awarded in the final minute of North Queensland's desperate 15-8 victory.
A 76th minute field goal to Jordan Kahu broke an 8-all deadlock before an onfield "no try" to Shane Wright was this time overturned.
The onfield official thought the ball had made contact with Michael Morgan's arm but the bunker disagreed.
But Bulldogs coach Pay was filthy at the first half call that went against Dallin Watene-Zelezniak that would have changed the entire context of the match and potentially kept Canterbury alive in the finals race.
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DWZ DIDN'T DROP IT
It was 2-all in the 16th minute when Watene-Zelezniak looked to have scored the first try.
Adam Elliott threaded a hole that Kieran Foran exploded through before he put through a clever grubber that looked to have bounced perfectly for the flying fullback.
But the bunker ignored the onfield "try" call, determining Watene-Zelezniak lost control before grounding the ball after a desperate tackle from Kyle Feldt.
Pay fumed: "I still can't work that out. I know it was a long way out but those things hurt you."
Pay had no doubt Watene-Zelezniak didn't drop it: "No, I don't".
And he will be demanding an explanation from the referees' boss.
"Of course. It is ridiculous," he added.
"When did he lose the ball? It goes up a try. They are making it hard for themselves."
Even Paul Green thought it was the wrong call.
"I thought it was a try to be honest," Green said.
"It was a huge play."
PAY STILL PROUD
Despite the controversy, Pay was again singing the praises of his players after another gutsy effort.
Josh Jackson and Aiden Tolman again led the way but there were no Bulldogs that didn't have a ripping go.
It ends Canterbury's four-match winning run but it wasn't going to ruin Pay's belief that this club is heading in the right direction.
"We fought to the death, we fought really hard, that is our team," Pay said.
"We didn't get the result tonight but I am really proud of them."
END OF AN ERA
It was an emotional win for the Cowboys in the final game at 1300Smiles Stadium before they move to a new home.
It's been a season to forget but at least the Cowboys have scored back-to-back wins after beating Penrith last round.
"I think the last two weeks has showed what we are capable of," Green said. "Being able to put the same team out there two weeks in a row has really helped and I think that was on show."
It took 49 minutes for the first try to arrive when Feldt finished off a slick shift that exposed the Bulldogs' troublesome right edge to give the Cowboys an 8-4 lead.
Up until that point the Bulldogs led 4-2 with all the points coming from penalty conversions.
Canterbury hit back just five minutes later when a clever bit of halves play from Foran created just enough doubt in the Cowboys' defence to create an overlap that put Jayden Okunbor over to level it up.
The Dogs now take on Brisbane at ANZ Stadium next Saturday while the Cowboys last game is against the Storm in Melbourne on Friday.
NORTH QUEENSLAND 15 (K Feldt S Wright tries J Kahu 2 S Bolton goals J Kahu field goal) bt CANTERBURY 8 (J Okunbor try N Meaney 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Referee: Chris Sutton, Belinda Sharpe. Crowd: 15,141