Williams, Dragons react to 'that' pass

Tony Williams could only put it down to divine intervention with his accidental pass to himself in the lead up to a Will Hopoate try stealing all the headlines following his Bulldogs' 34-16 win over the Dragons on Monday.

Hopoate's try midway through the second half saw the Bulldogs extend their 20-16 lead in rather controversial circumstances thanks to Williams.

TONY WILLIAMS POST MATCH REACTION

Looking to pass on to Josh Morris outside of him Williams instead threw the ball into his own left hand. The ball travelled over the head of Dragons halfback Benji Marshall and landed back in the hands of Williams who sent Hopoate over for the crucial try.

Any suggestion of a Williams error was quashed by referee Jared Maxwell when addressing Gareth Widdop. He told the Dragons skipper that Williams' effort was accidental and he had no intention for it to travel over the defence. 

The NRL's rulebook confirmed Maxwell's sentiment that it was a legal try, it reading: "If – after knocking on accidently – the player knocking on regains or kicks the ball before it touches the ground, a goal post, cross bar or an opponent, then play shall be allowed to proceed."

Williams said he always confident it was going to be ruled favourably by the referees and the bunker, though still wasn't sure how the try came to be.

"I think only God knows what's happened there. I think I was hit from the inside defender and the ball popped up," he said.

"I kept running and the ball just ended up in my hands. I was lucky but you make your own luck so I was just happy to get the ball back and set up the try.

"It's not like I purposely did it. It just happened to pop up but I guess if it hit one of them it would've been a different call but I was pretty confident it was going to be a try."

WILL HOPOATE POST MATCH REACTION


Dragons forward Mike Cooper couldn't believe the legality of the try when discussing the play with NRL.com. 

"I've never seen anything like that. As far as I was aware, you can't throw the ball to yourself even if it's accidental or not," Cooper said.

"The fact it went over one of our players head should've proved the point really. I'm not sure what sport you're allowed to do that in. I think it's a bit of a joke to be honest with you."

Dragons coach Paul McGregor couldn't help but laugh over the matter.

"I've honestly never seen anything like it," he chuckled, perhaps bemused. 

"You can pass it into your own hand, the ball goes forward, you regather it and that's acceptable? Work that one out for me please. 

"I don't what the rule is there because I've never seen anything like it before. Obviously they do because they made that decision."

Williams said the Bulldogs' eventual 18-point win wasn't built on the back of his crucial try assist, rather it was the dominance of his side's forward pack.

Eleven of the Bulldogs' 17 made over 100 metres against the Dragons in a dominant 2,117 metre-eating display. 

"It didn't swing the game [Hopoate's try], we were on top of it," an adamant Williams said. 

"We ran 600 metres more than them, we were always the dominant team but I guess we fell away from our game plan and we let in some soft tries at times. Other than that we controlled the game better and we deserved to win."

This article first appeared on NRL.com