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The NRL’s decision to stop the clock when the ball is out of play in the last five minutes of games has not only resulted in grandstand finishes to matches, but may also spell the end of golden point.
Wind the clock back to any time before this season and Manly would not have beaten Parramatta on Sunday, Penrith would not have got out of jail against Canterbury on Saturday and Melbourne would not have edged out the Panthers the previous weekend.
At least not in regular time, as there were two more scoring opportunities after Penrith halfback Peter Wallace kicked a field goal to level the scores at 17-all with 90 seconds left on the clock.
Storm halfback Cooper Cronk kicked his second field goal soon after, but Wallace still had a chance to win the game for the Panthers with a failed 40 metre penalty goal attempt.
The time off rule means teams are now going all out to win in regular time rather than conserve their energy for golden point as they know there will be more chances for both sides to score in the last five minutes of matches.
In doing so, they are also reducing the need for golden point to decide matches, and if the controversial extra-time period is barely used this season the NRL may be encouraged to scrap it.
The NRL is constantly reviewing data on the impact of this season’s rule changes and if the trend of the last five minutes effectively being played like golden point continues, the rules committee may decide it is not worth keeping an innovation that still polarises players, coaches and fans 11 years after its introduction in 2003.
While field goals and penalty goals are often the cause of complaint from league fans about rugby union, the contrast between the finish to the Storm-Panthers clash and the last five minutes of the Brumbies-Waratahs match played on the same night was the best endorsement for the new NRL rule.
After Israel Folau scored to narrow the deficit for the Waratahs to 25-23, Brumbies players spent the remaining five minutes of the match trying to wind down the clock and took more than two minutes to complete a scrum.
Similar attempts at time wasting in NRL games were common before this season, with teams being slow to re-start the game from a goal line dropout or kick off after the opposition had scored a try, or an attempt at goal.
But no longer is that the case and the impact is obvious, with Sea Eagles centre Steve Matai crossing for the match-winning try against the Eels with 49 seconds left after referee Jared Maxwell had stopped the clock at the other end of the field for a goal-line dropout.
Penrith winger Kevin Naiqama produced a similar feat on Saturday night to enable fullback Matt Moylan to land a sideline conversion after the bell and snatch an 18-16 win over the Bulldogs.
“When the games are on the line like that and are going down to the wire you want to give teams every chance and you also want to give fans the opportunity to enjoy the spectacle,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.
“It has done exactly what we had hoped it would do, which is give more opportunities for both teams in that last five minutes. The Storm-Panthers game was a great example of that. The lead changed three times in the last five minutes.
“The changes we have been able to make are genuinely around the entertainment of the game and giving fans a great spectacle to watch.”
Despite some criticism of the constant changes and tweaking of the rules, Greenberg said the NRL would continue to consider innovations that make the game more appealing to fans.
“Over the years the coaches have had a significant say in the way the rules are structures and there is no way in history a coach would have come up with that sort of rule change,” he said.
“That is why I think we have done the right thing by taking a little bit more control of the game because we are an entertainment product and we have got to make sure that we continue to innovate. That is one of the great strengths of where the game is currently at.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Continue reading NRL stops the clock