WESTERN Suburbs coach Craig Miller unloaded on Newcastle Rugby League referee John Taylor after the Rosellas’ 34-28 loss to Maitland yesterday.
The Rosellas led for most of the grand final rematch at Harker Oval before the battled-hardened Pickers stormed home with three tries in the final 12 minutes.
Maitland won the penalty count 10-4 and received a vital favourable call in the dying minutes when they appeared to have knocked on from a restart.
Taylor ruled the ball went backwards and soon after Pickers fullback Ryan Walker scored his second try in six minutes to take the lead.
The decision and the penalties left a usually reserved Miller fuming after the loss.
‘‘The effort was there, but the officials did not match the standard of those 34 players who took the field and there was only one side that got the rough end of the pineapple,’’ Miller said.
‘‘I don’t mind referees and officials being incompetent if it runs both ways, but that today didn’t go both ways.
‘‘I’m sick of Wests, because they’re Wests getting the raw end of the pineapple when those blokes [Wests players] out there have got no idea about tall-poppy syndrome.
‘‘They just go out there to play football and I’m sick of Wests copping it because if we whinge we’re whingers.’’
In the Pickers change room the mood was far brighter.
Maitland coach Ron Griffiths said the attitude displayed was the best he had seen since taking over from Trevor Ott this season.
‘‘The thing we spoke about before the game was attitude and character,’’ Griffiths said.
‘‘It’s something from here on and we need to be the team with the best attitude and at the back end of that match it came to fruition.’’
Wests dominated the first half with the 50-metre try by Newcastle Rebels winger Justin Smith the highlight.
From a scrum the ball went to Smith, who used blinding speed to carve through the Pickers untouched.
However, the introduction of rep halfback Jade Porter off the bench sparked the Pickers and two late tries to Glen Paton and Geordie Connolly gave Maitland a surprise 16-12 half-time lead.
Wests scored tries through second-rower Matt Herman, Smith and a solo effort to five-eighth Tom Lidden, and Maitland’s Brenton Horwood crossed over off a Porter short ball for the Rosellas to lead 28-22 on the hour.
Walker then proved to be the match winner, beating Wests teenage halfback Ryan Walsh twice to score a double.
The undefeated Goannas were given a massive scare at Cessnock Sportsground yesterday when they defeated Lakes United 18-14.
Seven of the eight Goannas in the Newcastle Rebels side backed up with prop Mick O’Shea injured with a hyperextended elbow.
On Saturday, Macquarie flogged Port Stephens 52-14 at Peacock Field. It was the second time this season the Sharks failed to field a reserve grade side.
In other Saturday games, South Newcastle and Wyong fought out a 6-all draw at Townson Oval and Kurri Kurri ended a three-game losing streak by beating Central Newcastle 42-18 at Kurri.