Should NRL keep golden point or go back to the old draw board? Hard to split difference

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Many fans are divided when it comes to extra time. Some love the idea of having an actual winner at the end of a game, others don’t like the change, as they were content with a draw if the teams couldn’t be split after 80 minutes.

Then are there those, like me, that after all these years since it was introduced nearly 20 years ago are still unsure which side to take.

So I thought I’d put this piece together, so those in the same boat can go through all the pros and cons, and maybe by the end we can come to a decision together. Ok, let’s go.

While it was tested during the 1997 Super League Tri-Series, golden point was officially brought into the NRL in 2003. Since then, we have witnessed 138 games that have turned into golden point thrillers.

There is something special about watching two teams who have given it their all, and then having to dig a little deeper for a bit longer. No one can deny that this system has given us some sensational finishes over the years.

Who can forget the epic 100-minute qualifying final between the Roosters and the Tigers in 2010? Braith Anasta kicked a field goal in the dying seconds of normal time to send the game into extra time, and after a 20-minute exhausted arm wrestle between the sides, Shaun Kenny-Dowall took an intercept pass and raced to the try line to win as the Roosters kicked off their playoff march to the Grand Final.

And it is a great feeling to be able to have an outright winner at the end of a Grand Final, and not have to come back mid-week to do it all again.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs looks on during the round two NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at AAMI Park, on March 17, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Latrell Mitchell, Campbell Graham and Lachlan Ilias were devastated by the one-point loss to Melbourne in extra time in Round 2. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

One of the best grand finals ever was undeniably between the Cowboys v Broncos in 2015, where Kyle Feldt scored in the corner right on the siren to level the scores, but Johnathan Thurston couldn’t convert to secure the win. Only a few short minutes later Thurston went on to kick one of the most memorable field goals in league history, and the Cowboys won 17-16 in golden point.

It’s the same with State of Origin, to be able to crown an actual victor and not just have the previous champions retain the trophy. In 1999, both sides had each won a game and the third ended in a 10-all draw. Queensland were named the series’ winners because they had won the previous year, and despite taking the glory, I’m sure they would have rather won it outright, not on default.

I can understand the satisfaction of having an actual winner and loser at the end of a game, to have a team able to claim victory. And if your team happens to be on the losing end of a golden point match, you can feel pride that they didn’t lose in normal time. Then again, you may not.

If after 80 minutes the scores are level, I can understand you wanting to take home a point for your trouble. You have earnt it. I mean, technically you didn’t lose. We did it for 95 years without too much trouble, would it really have mattered it we had just left well enough alone?

Does it matter that there isn’t a result? Isn’t a draw still a result anyway? What’s wrong with two teams who threw everything at each other for a whole game and came out even, splitting the prize in the end?

Out of the 138 golden point games I mentioned earlier, 14 of those were still deadlocked at the end. So, after all that extra effort, both teams still walked away with a point each. Without golden point, we still would have had the same outcome without the extra hassle!

And you can’t tell me that if your team has drawn at the end of regular time, and goes on to lose in golden point, that they deserve the same reward as the next team who gets thrashed by 30?

For all the excitement a golden point match can bring, it can also deliver boredom. I mean, wouldn’t you rather see a game end in a tie, than potentially watching another 10 minutes of five hit-ups followed by a missed field goal attempt on repeat?

And I can only wonder how many finals series would have looked different over the past 18 years, had teams earned the one point during the regular season and were able to move a bit higher up the ladder.

Oh dear. Well, this hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. I’ve just gone round in circles and still can’t decide.

They both seem to have their advantages and disadvantages, and I can’t spilt the two. Tell me, are you a fan of golden point, or should we have just left the good old draw alone?

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