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EDITORIAL | Is Golden Point Still Golden?

NRL: Scores are tied at full-time, but beware it carries a terrible curse…

FANS: Ooooh, that’s bad.

NRL: But it comes with Golden Point

FANS: That’s good.

NRL: The field goal shootout is also cursed.

FANS: That’s bad.

NRL: But it gets the broadcasters excited.

FANS: That’s good.

NRL: The losing team gets nothing.

FANS:

NRL: That’s bad.

FANS: Can I go now?

With a recent glut of Golden Point games, debate about its merits has risen again.

The argument falls into three camps:

  1. Golden Point is fine. It’s exciting and can save a dour game.
  2. Keep Golden Point if you must, but give the losing team a point.
  3. Golden Point is awful! Call it a draw and share the points.

Look at the epic Good Friday game between Melbourne and Sydney Roosters. Easily the game of the year, Melbourne tied the scores at 20-20 after 54 minutes. What followed was 26 minutes of old-fashioned back-and-forth footy. While no points were scored, it was absorbing. If there was no Golden Point and it finished 20-20, would we have left happy? Probably. Melbourne deserved a point after their huge comeback, while the Roosters would’ve felt lucky to get one point after blowing a 20-0 lead. When Latrell Mitchell kicked his clutch field goal, Melbourne left with nothing but a weekend of ‘what ifs’ over their chocolate eggs. Is it fair? Not really.

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On the other side, look at the Penrith v Wests Tigers game in round four. It was a shocking game saved by Dylan Edwards’ late try, Nathan Cleary’s conversion and his Golden Point field goal. That field goal was the talking point of a game that would’ve been quickly forgotten.

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So what’s the future for Golden Point? Sadly for critics, it’s not going away as it’s commercially viable and broadcasters love to hype it up.

One complaint is the predictability of the inevitable field goal shootout. Teams drive down the field trying to get close enough for a decent shot. Changing it to Golden Try would result in more attacking football but probably more draws, so an extra 10 minutes for nothing. If a team plays three full GP games, that’s an extra half hour added to an already packed season. Best to keep it at Golden Point and put up with some predictable footy.

The fairest option is to give both teams a point at full time and the winning team after Golden Point gets an extra two points (three points overall). This makes Golden Point even more important as the extra points (for winning or losing) could make a difference between a top four spot, a finals place or an early trip to Bali.

While nothing is likely to change – at least this season – adjusting the points system to give both teams a reward seems the fairest option.

Deputy Sports Editor for the Australian Times Weekly

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