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Fraser Barton

Tigers seek explanation, NRL defends call

The NRL has defended a call to allow North Queensland to challenge a last-minute play and kick their way to a controversial 27-26 win over Wests Tigers.

Down 26-25 with one second left and play re-starting following a Tigers try, North Queensland claimed their winger Kyle Feldt was impeded while running after a short kick-off as referee Chris Butler blew his whistle after the siren.

Despite no penalty being awarded, Cowboys captain Chad Townsend asked for the play to be reviewed.

The bunker then gave North Queensland an escort penalty, and Valentine Holmes kicked the Cowboys home.

Wests Tigers announced on Monday they have lodged an official complaint to the NRL and are seeking an explanation for the costly decision.

However, two hours after fulltime on Sunday, the NRL claimed the correct process had been followed.

"Although the referee had blown his whistle to stop the game after the last tackle was completed as time had expired, he had not yet called fulltime," a spokesman said.

The NRL also claimed that while the escort penalty was not blown on field, the call of stopping play for the end of the match was able to be challenged by the Cowboys if they believed there had been foul play.

"The whole concept of the captain's challenge is to make sure any decision by the referee that stops the game can be reviewed," the spokesman said.

"To not do so would effectively deny a team the right to have an officiating error corrected."

The league said they would review on Monday whether the bunker call of escort was a correct one.

North Queensland coach Todd Payten admitted it was "debatable" whether his side deserved the win, but said with some calls going against them this season, they would happily take the two points.

"I guess what goes around comes around, and we got one tonight," he said.

Tigers assistant coach Ben Gardiner, speaking in place of interim coach Brett Kimmorley, absent due to COVID-19, felt the game should have ended before the challenge.

"It was a moment of elation and then a moment of deflation," Gardiner said.

"My understanding is that when the bunker comes into play, or when there's a challenge made, it has to be when there's an indiscretion in the play, or there's a breakdown of the play.

"My understanding is we caught the ball, the game was over, and that's where it should have ended."

Cowboys co-captain Chad Townsend said he followed regular protocols when asking the referee to challenge a call.

"I saw the escort, went over to the ref straight away, I saw the challenge and I think the touchy looked over and gave the ref a nod and saw the same thing as I saw," Townsend said about the incident.

"He asked me what I was challenging, I said the escort, Feldty was on the ground, I thought he (Kepaoa) changed his line.

"Over the course of the season, sometimes you get them (decisions) and sometimes you don't. And tonight, we got one."

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