Cowboy Coen Hess is congratulated by treammates on his try during the NRL elimination final against the Broncos at 1300 SMILES Stadium in Townsville.
Cowboy Coen Hess is congratulated by treammates on his try during the NRL elimination final against the Broncos at 1300 SMILES Stadium in Townsville. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Extra time wins out against golden point

RUGBY LEAGUE: Now that the NRL has bitten the bullet and turned the clock back 13 years by reintroducing extra time in finals matches, some other tough decisions need to be made.

And the first of those is to rid the game of golden-point extra time during the regular premiership rounds.

Like many, I'm still sensing the euphoria of Friday night's absolute classic between the Cowboys and Broncos, the first NRL match decided in regulated extra time since golden point was introduced in 2003.

And yes, that exhilaration forms part of the reasoning for the call to abandon golden point.

But while the near-perfect game was decided in near-perfect fashion, it is the manner in which the players and on-field officials reacted which should be the barometer for the NRL hierarchy.

From the moment respective skippers Johnathan Thurston and Corey Parker came together for the toss after full-time, it was patently obvious to me that another 10 minutes of rugby league was to be played, not some wacky hybrid form of the game. And that is exactly what we have been getting in golden point.

Critics of rugby league often describe the game as 'five-up and kick' - which, roughly translated means take five hit-ups and then kick the ball as far as possible.

And while that opinion is no doubt impertinent, it does apply to golden point. Tack on 'attempt a field goal' and 'referees put their whistles in their pockets' and it describes the golden-point period to a tee.

On Friday night, with players aware they had an additional 10 minutes to play, it was apparent that tactics, and not luck, would win the game. And Thurston, the greatest tactician of the modern era, was the difference.

While golden point can be exciting, it is a dead-set lottery. Just on 50% of the 105 matches decided in golden point since 2003 have been won by a field goal - some of them extremely wobbly.

TV executives apparently love golden point because it results in a spike in their audience. And while a staunch belief may exist that a result, hence golden point, is necessary in our game, only half the fans are ecstatic after a win. The other half are distraught.

Let's face it - a draw is a draw. Two teams have battled for 80 minutes with not a struck match between them, so why should one be denied a competition point following a period of play that has evolved into a complete and utter shemozzle?

When a result is absolutely necessary - as in finals, State of Origin and internationals - do as we did on Friday night and play extra time.

Then, if scores are still deadlocked, let the shemozzle begin. But for NRL rounds, retain the draw.

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