Stuart backs bunker's eight-point try call

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart took Joseph Leilua aside and spoke to him after the game.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart took Joseph Leilua aside and spoke to him after the game.

Ricky Stuart concedes the NRL's bunker was right to award the first eight-point try of the year against Canberra in their 18-14 loss to Manly.

In the game's decisive moment, Canberra centre Joseph Leilua was penalised and put on report for dropping his knees into Manly winger Reuben Garrick after scoring.

It prompted the Sea Eagles to go from 10-4 down to 12-10 up in the space of one play, as Garrick combined with Jack Gosiewski to finish off a length-of-the-field intercept try early in the second half.

Stuart pulled Leilua aside after the match and while he wouldn't reveal their conversation, he agreed it was the right call for him to be penalised.

"I think it's justified. I have spoken to BJ. I do think it was justified," Stuart said.

"(It was a) massive momentum shift towards Manly. Trying to swing that momentum back is difficult.

"We did but not enough. There were passages of play we were trying to take the easy option more than get in the gutter with them and fight."

The incident was the first eight-point try in the NRL since Brisbane were awarded one against North Queensland last August.

If Leilua is charged, Canberra will likely have Bailey Simmonsen return to the side after he deputised for him during a neck injury for the majority of the season.

Stuart however contended that five-eighth Jack Wighton should have been awarded an early try, after the bunker refused to overturn an on-field call that he dropped it over the line.

Former NRL referees' boss Bill Harrigan argued on Triple M it should have been awarded, as he reasoned it had been grounded correctly.

"I've seen it a couple of times, I would like to think I am pretty balanced in my opinion with those things," Stuart said.

"Like with BJ, yeah that was a penalty try.

"But it looked like he still grounded it. But if you look at the scoreboard, it's no try. I won't be crying over that."

Australian Associated Press