Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell did not hold back in his criticism of Ben Thaler’s performance as referee in the narrow loss to Wigan Warriors at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Thaler angered fans, players and the head coach alike with some inconsistent decisions that proved costly as the Tigers lost 33-26.
A string of controversial decisions went Wigan’s way, helped swing a tight game and led to calls from supporters for Thaler to never referee Castleford again.
Thaler, who was demoted from Super League after openly showing dissent to video referee Thierry Alibert when Cas played Catalans earlier this season, has been criticised by the Tigers several times before, going back to 2009. He was booed onto the field at the start and certainly jeered off at half-time after he sin-binned Jake Webster after the hooter and was booed even louder at the end of the latest game.
Head coach Powell said he was “not bothered” if he was to get a fine from the RFL as he was so angry with the official’s display.
He said: “The referee had a big impact all the way through it and I thought he lost his cool completely - and that’s unacceptable really.
“The manner of what went on tonight was really disappointing, we fell away after half-time we were down to 12 men and were rattled, we conceded a real soft try and that was one of the defining moments.
“He got dropped after he refereed us in Catalans - if I dropped a player as many times I’d be getting rid of him at the end of the year.
“There was some unacceptable stuff there and it’s really disappointing.
“Players need respect in the way you speak to them and I don’t think there was a lot shown to them. Respect goes both ways and that was disappointing on every level.
“I thought he made a lot of poor decisions tonight. Just 50-50 decisions that seemed to go against us for whatever reason.
“The big thing for me is you get things wrong here and there - and you don’t want your players to lose your cool - but as a man who’s refereeing the game you can’t afford to lose your cool and he clearly did.
“The way he’s talking to players is unacceptable – I’m getting that message from pretty much all of our players, some of whom have a decent relationship with him, too. It was different tonight for whatever reason.
“I’ll cop a fine and I don’t care. You need to be able to say what you think at times.
“Nothing will happen, that’s the problem we’ve got as coaches.
“Ben was dropped against Catalans when he was trying to convince the video referee that a try should be allowed.
“There seems to be an issue there and I don’t know what it is.
“I haven’t complained for over a year about a referee, but this is at the end of my tether really.
“I can’t ask that he never referees us again, but I would ask he would referee us better than that.
“Players get dropped for poor performances and that was just not good enough.”
Powell did not excuse Webster who was sin-binned for what he said to the referee after he failed to give the Tigers a penalty right at the end of the first half and had just a few minutes earlier given Wigan a penalty - and two points - with a controversial decision at the other end.
He said: “Players can’t be having a pop at the referee. It was clearly a decision that went against us and was a poor call, but that happens. You understand that things go against you here and there so that was poor off Jake.
“I thought that hurt us just after half-time and that was probably a defining period in terms of the energy battle.
“I’ve no argument with the result, it was tight, but there’s some lessons there to be learned.”