Rugby league: Melbourne Storm’s ‘stunning’ penalty try controversy rocks NRL Grand Final – as Craig Bellamy blows his top

Andrew McMurtry for

The 2020 Grand Final saw a stunning start with a penalty try awarded just four minutes into the game as the Melbourne Storm drew first blood before going on to beat Penrith 26-20.

Getting the ball in good field position after a Panthers mistake, the Storm went wide.

Winger Josh Addo-Carr was tackled but passed the ball back on the inside to his centre Justin Olam who dived for the corner — but referee Gerard Sutton sent the call up as a no try.

The bunker checked the sideline and then saw the ball dislodged by the knee of Panther Tyrone May, who kicked out with his leg in an effort to stop the try.

The more the bunker official Steve Chiddy looked at the play, the more the commentators on Channel 9 started to point to it being a potential penalty try.

It is illegal for a defender to kick the ball out of a rival’s grasp with their feet because it is deemed dangerous play.

The bunker sent it back as a penalty try — the first penalty try in a Grand Final since 2013.

“Tyrone May has used the foot to kick the ball out of the possession of Justin Olam. In our opinion, we believe a try would have been scored,” Chiddy said.

The Panthers immediately protested with captain James Tamou told by Sutton “He can’t kick at it with a foot, mate. He believes he kicks at the ball.”

Phil Gould called the decision “incredible”, clearly disagreeing with the call.

“I don’t know what Tyrone May could have done any differently there,” Gould said.

“It is not what I would call indiscriminate kicking but the referee ruled he’s played at the ball with his foot.

“That is a stunning start to this game. Stunning.”

But while social media was somewhat divided, the main sentiment was that it was a good call.

The news went from bad to worse for Panthers, who went to hit straight back.

The Panthers were pushing hard towards the Storm line when it appeared Josh Mansour went over in the corner.

But it was called back when Stephen Crichton was called for an obstruction.

As the game went on, nothing appeared to be going the Panthers’ way with the Storm rolling on to a 22-0 lead at the break.

The Storm would go up 26-0 before the Panthers clawed their way back in dramatic fashion – scoring the last four tries of the match after a series of controversial calls went against the Storm.

The first allowed Isaah Yeo to set up a try after running around his own teammate in a clear obstruction.

The second saw halfback Jahrome Hughes sent to the sin bin with nine minutes left on the clock after the NRL Bunker ruled he had performed a professional foul by taking out Villiame Kikau.

With the Storm reduced to 12 – and then 11 – men at the death, the Panthers very nearly pinched it.

But the Storm showed their class to endure the onslaught and emerge with a famous grand final triumph.

The tension also got the better of Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who was caught on camera in a coaches’ box meltdown in the dying seconds.

Shortly after Nathan Cleary scored to make it 26-20, Bellamy blew his top.

The Channel 9 cameras panned to his coaches’ box where the seasoned mentor could be seen shouting furiously before walking to the back of the room and sticking the boot into a chair.

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