‘A little bit ironic’: Anthony Griffin dismisses last-minute controversy, praises Dragons’ effort

St George-Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has brushed aside any concerns about a possible last-minute penalty in his side’s 24-22 loss to the Canberra Raiders.

Mat Feagai made a line break in the dying phase and was tackled after the clock was up, leading to a debate over whether the Raiders defenders were released from the tackle fast enough.

The incident quickly drew comparisons to a similarly controversial moment when the teams met earlier this season when Ricky Stuart became furious over a late call.

When asked if he had any concerns with the referee in the final moments of the game, the veteran Dragons coach was blunt.

“No,” Griffin said.

“It’s probably a bit ironic compared to the first game [against the Raiders this season].

“We just ran out of time. It was a fantastic line break at that point in the game…we just needed one more ball.

“But that’s how the world works.”

Trailing 24-12 in the second half, Ben Hunt’s 20/40 brought the Dragons back to life, with Talatau Amone and Tautau Moga both scoring late.

However, their comeback fell short as Zac Lomax failed to convert Moga’s attempt from the sidelines.

Despite the narrow loss — effectively ending the Dragons’ finals chances this season — Griffin was pleased with his team’s attitude.

“We’re very proud of the performance. At different times the game went against us – we had to do most of the defense with our field position in the second half to stay in the game,” he said.

“I just thought it was a fantastic achievement.

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“Unfortunately, especially in the last few weeks, we have … only given [Cronulla and Canberra] their points too easy at different times and it was too hard to roll back in.”

The result gave the Dragons a silver lining as Talatau Amone grabbed his first NRL hat trick.

The 20-year-old five-eighth also scored a try assist in what was arguably his best game for the club.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Griffin said.

“It’s been a tough year for Junior [Amone] – It’s his first year as a full-time player, starting in the fifth eighth in the NRL.

“And I thought today, in what is obviously our most important game of the year, he really stood up, which is great.”

Dragons captain Ben Hunt also spoke positively about his half-partner.

“He’s really exciting,” said Hunt.

“I really encourage him to get more on the ball and take over the game and I think there were good signs for him tonight.

“The more he supports himself, the better he gets.”

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