The Golden Point rule has been part of the National Rugby League competition since 2003 (Manly won the first GP game 36-34 against Parramatta on May 18 2003) and continues to create controversy.
Broadcasters love it because it creates drama and ensures a result (in over 100 GP games only 14 have stayed as a draw) but most fans hate it as any point (try, field goal, penalty goal) decides the game, whether it’s in the first 30 seconds or the 10th minute of extra time.
Cynics would say Golden Point was initially a knee-jerk reaction to Queensland winning the third State of Origin game in 2002, drawing the series and retaining the shield.
While Golden Point does create drama, it’s also unfair, with the losing team still going home with no competition points. They may as well have lost by 20.
It also magnifies refereeing mistakes, as the losing team will complain loudly if a contentious penalty costs them the game.
Just ask the Canberra Raiders, who were denied the chance to beat Manly in Golden Point today after a controversial knock on against Junior Paulo setup Manly’s 21-20 win, which later proved incorrect.
Having Golden Point for non-finals games seems to defy common sense: with a 24-game regular season, why put already tired players through another 10 minutes of high-pressure football for the sake of two points? Why not call it a draw (as the NSWRL/Super League/NRL did for almost 100 years), split the points and get ready for next week?
The NRL finally showed some common sense last year by changing the extra time rules for the finals, with two full five-minute halves before entering Golden Point.
The new rule was tested during the North Queensland v Brisbane semi-final in Townsville. The change in rules was evident as the Cowboys won 26-20 (it was 20-20 at full time), taking time to craft the winning try. While Darius Boyd fumbled a kick off, the Broncos had time to recover but still couldn’t score.
I bet Ben Hunt wishes the rule was used for the 2015 grand final.
So will Golden Point be changed for the regular season? It’s doubtful as it’s been part of the NRL for 14 seasons.
One change would help make it a bit fairer.
When a game enters Golden Point, give both teams one point (like a normal draw). The winning Golden Point team receives the usual two points and the losers keep their point, knowing they’ve walked away with something for their efforts. In a tight competition, those extra points could be crucial.
The Raiders have lost three Golden Point games in 2017. Give them one point for each loss and they’d be sitting in the top eight.