Justin Holbrook bemoans decision not to send Morgan Knowles’ early effort to the video referee

St Helens Head Coach Justin Holbrook says he cannot understand why referee Robert Hicks didn’t send Morgan Knowles’ try attempt to the video referee in the early stages of the Challenge Cup final.

Knowles appeared to get downward pressure on Theo Fages’ angled grubber kick into the in-goal, but Hicks points for a 20m restart rather than referring the incident to Ben Thaler.

Later on in the half, Mark Percival’s effort was disallowed after Zeb Taia was adjudged to have spilt the ball into the path of Ben Murdoch-Masila in the build up.

Two minutes later, Warrington crossed through Joe Philbin, before scores from Murdoch-Masila later in the first half and Lance Todd Trophy winner Daryl Clark eight minutes from time wrapped up a fourth title in 10 years for Steve Price’s side.

Speaking after the game about the early incident, Holbrook said: “[It was] massive. We’re talking about a Challenge Cup final, a big game.

“If we go in front on a hot day, it’s a different game. You’d be filthy if that was just a regular round Super League game.

“To not check that and then to give a six again when it comes off them, and three tackles later they score, it’s hard work.

“I’m not trying to blame that on the game, but it does go differently. It’s going to sound like sour grapes to some people, but I just can’t get my head around it.

“Both teams have given absolutely everything; we shouldn’t be talking about something like this.”

Despite the result, Holbrook insists that he can be nothing but proud of his players after they gave their everything, despite searing heat in the capital.

“It’s disappointing. I though it was a great game of rugby league,” he admitted. “We threw everything at them in that second and just couldn’t get out of the line.

“In the end we made a few errors, but we were chasing the game and it’s hard to chase points late when everyone is out on their feet.

“I can’t fault anything from our end. Full credit has to go to Warrington over how well they played today.

“For me, watching that game, it was rugby league at its best. It was end-to-end and no-0ne [was] giving an inch.

“I’m disappointed in losing, but not the way we played. Every one of our boys threw everything into it, and as a coach that’s all I can ask for.”


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21-year-old Sports Journalism Graduate from the University of Chester. Digital Content Producer for Love Rugby League, Live Text Commentator for Tribe Sports and Marketing & Communications Assistant at Cheshire FA.Twitter: @J_M_Messenger