Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston was left to rue two key incidents after his side lost a thrilling contest against Leigh Centurions on Sunday.
The Eagles pushed the Championship big spenders all the way, and looked to be in a commanding position to claim a surprising victory when they levelled the scores with just six minutes remaining.
Then came the late drama as Aston’s side surrendered possession deep inside their own half. They seemed to have absorbed the pressure only for referee Chris Kendall to award a penalty to the hosts under the sticks, with Martin Ridyard kicking the points.
Aston disagreed with the crucial call and, as the Eagles lost momentum, they conceded a further try to Cory Paterson right at the death.
“For the referee to give a penalty in front of the sticks needs questioning,” Aston told The Star. “To give a ‘hands on’ or whatever in front of the home end with minutes to go was a poor decision.
“I spoke at half-time and I said to the players: ‘We can still win the game because if we can get to the last 15 minutes they will go. If we are still in there, we have a chance.’ And that’s what happened.”
Aston was also left stunned at the end of the first half when Elliot Minchella was penalised for a tackle in the air which denied his side a certain try. It proved to be a pivotal moment as the visitors conceded soon after.
“I also want to question just before half-time when it turned into 12-point turnaround,” Aston added.
“Minchella is backing in watching the ball, but the referee says he took him out in the air. Well, I am sorry; he wasn’t looking where the man was. We scored, which was disallowed, and they went up the other end and scored.”