A minute to go and Darius Boyd has just had a field goal attempt waved away. Manly have one last set of six to steal a match that they don’t deserve to win. Despite a bumbling set with more sideways movement than up the guts Manly manage to make it to the opposition forty. An ice cool Cherry-Evans slots a difficult field goal as the siren sounds to earn his side the two points.
As a Manly fan taking all of this in from the hill at Brookvale I was unsurprisingly in raptures but this is a game we would not have won (at least in regular time) twelve months ago. I’m not suggesting that the club has improved its toughness or tenacity but am making reference to the new seven tackle rule when a ball is kicked dead. Without this rule Manly would not have made it into field goal range during that last minute and the game would have gone into golden point. Now I’m not complaining about my team getting the two points but is this what the new seven tackle rule was really brought in for? While I think the rule has its merits I do believe it needs to be tweaked so teams are not disadvantaged for attacking play.
I think everyone can agree that teams kicking the ball dead from within their own half is boring stuff. We want to see the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne bringing the ball back at speed. To combat negative tactics the NRL introduced a seventh tackle for when the ball is kicked dead, forcing teams to keep long kicks in the field of play. In theory this extra tackle gives teams an extra ten metres and puts them into an attacking kick position during the following set. Surely this shouldn’t apply to desperate teams attempting to break a dead lock in the final minutes. The knights defended well during the last set on Monday and deserved to take the game into golden point. Instead they became the first victims of a seventh tackle field goal loss.
More than just field goal attempts, I believe all attacking kicks should be exempt from conceding a seventh tackle. For arguments sake lets say all kicks made within twenty metres of the opponents try line. Kickers are desperately trying to hold the ball up in goal and force a dropout. Kicking it long resulting in a twenty metre tap is punishment enough. Giving the opposition an extra tackle is just rubbing salt into their wounds.
This rule was brought in to stop teams from employing negative tactics, not punishing them for an awkward bounce or a field goal attempt just wide of the posts. Lets amend this rule to stop giving teams an easy ten metres when they don’t deserve them.
On a side note I must have cursed Benji Marshall last week by backing him for a positive start to his Dragons career. He was rusty and all in all pretty bad. Despite this performance I’m going to stick with him and say he will be considered a good signing at the end of his two and a half years at Saints.