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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Consistency is the key
St Helens end the season on top
Saints won in dramatic circumstances

So everyone is up in arms over the alleged Chris Joynt infringement in the dying stages of Saturday's Grand Final.

It left Bradford coach Brian Noble fuming and many others raising questions about the validity of the player's actions.

Are those same people making as much noise when a player dives at another player's feet from inside his own in goal area?

Or when someone heading towards or over the touchline inexplicably falls to the ground?


Russell Smith was performing his duties exactly the way every supporter of the game would have seen him do this year

I didn't think so.

The truth of the matter is that, regardless of what Joynt did, it is something that has been rife in rugby league for at least a decade now.

Coaches tell players to make sure they land on their stomachs to ensure a speedy play on the ball.

Getting a 'roll on' is the term that symbolises this tactic.

I am already in no doubt as to what the referees' directive from above will be for next season.

Anybody who remotely dives on the floor will be penalised so we can rid this cancer from the game.

Saints skipper Chris Joynt
Joynt was at the centre of the controversy

It should not be referee Russell Smith alone who is vilified for what transpired in the closing stages of the match.

People are always quick to berate a referee, but seldom does one gain much credit no matter what sport it is.

He has had an outstanding year and because he followed what every referee has done all season he is the one who gets buffeted from every direction.

Remember that word everyone in the game asks for from a referee: consistency.

If you had a look back through the statistics of every game played in Super League VII and see how many times someone was penalised for a 'voluntary tackle', I would be surprised if you need more than one hand to count from.

I would say that is being consistent.

Smith was performing his duties exactly the way every supporter of the game would have seen him do this year.

Knee-jerk reaction

Whether you think he is good at what he does or not is really of little concern as, in a nutshell, there has only been minute deviation in what he has given in his performances all season.

It is a shame that having had such a fantastic season and with the prospect of a three-Test series against New Zealand to look forward to, we are instead worrying about a play that is almost as archaic as can be in the modern game.

If it is an issue then begin to address it at the start of next season so it is an area that can be policed all year.

And not just as a knee-jerk reaction to what is now 'water under the bridge'.


Bulls 18-19 Saints

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