Video casts doubt on Ghosts loss

VIDEO of the dying seconds of Saturday’s Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League minor semi-final between the Grafton Ghosts and Northern United has cast doubt on the result.

The footage obtained by The Daily Examiner yesterday is consistent with Ghosts centre Aaron Hartmann’s account of the post-siren incident.

Hartmann had a try disallowed after the siren which would have won the game for Grafton and set up a clash with Mullumbimby next weekend. Grafton lost the game 21-18, ending its season.

The video shows a Ghosts player on Northern United’s line playing the ball on the fifth tackle.

Referee Peter O’Connor allows the play to continue, his left hand remaining in the air to signify the fifth tackle.

Hartmann takes the ball from dummy-half and puts in a grubber kick.

The ball appears to stop at the feet of a Northern United player, who falls on the ball. The ball appears to be on the ground and not in the Northern United player’s control.

Hartmann, on hands and knees, picks the ball up and dives over to score what he and other Ghosts players think is the winning try.

It is worth noting Northern United players standing next to O’Connor begin celebrating before Hartmann grabs the ball, indicating the referee may have already called fulltime.

It is unclear from the footage whether O’Connor has a clear view of the play, or whether he consults the near touch judge before blowing fulltime. The referee and touch judges can communicate during the match via radio link.

Hartmann is seen throwing the ball down in disgust when he learns of O’Connor’s decision. Several Ghosts players remonstrate briefly with O’Connor before walking away.

The Daily Examiner sought a written explanation of O’Connor’s ruling from Northern Rivers Referees’ Association secretary Will Constable yesterday. At the time of going to print it was unavailable.

NRRRL president Robin Harley said the Ghosts could appeal the result – at a cost of about $250 – but gave every indication the club would be wasting its time.

"The likelihood of the result being overturned is very dim," Harley said.

Harley said he could not recall a club appealing the result of a game.

Ghosts officials were yet to decide whether they would lodge an appeal.

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