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NRL Telstra Premiership 2009

Stats Insider: How to win in golden point

Stats Insider NRL.com Thu, Mar 08, 2012 - 12:40 PM

Jamie Soward's match-winning field-goal against the Knights in Round 1 was the first time the Dragons had won a game in golden point extra time. Copyright: NRL Photos

Say what you want about golden point. Whether you love the concept, or want to tweak it, or hate it and want it scrapped… it appears it is here to stay in its current format.

After the Dragons and Tigers opened the season with exciting golden-point wins the debate about how things could, or should, change has raged.

The NRL has issued an informative release to explain why certain changes haven’t been implemented since the league introduced golden point in 2003. You can read this here.

However, instead of worrying about how to change, or even why it’s needed, perhaps teams should focus on seeking out crucial trends that will give them the advantage – and the win – in sudden death.

There have been 62 golden-point games in the history of the premiership; 53 ended with a result and nine were left locked in a draw after five minutes each way.

Opponents of the system who belittle it as nothing more than a field-goal shootout point to the fact 32 winning moments have come via a drop kick, compared to just 14 through tries.

We know referees would rather shelve their whistles in extra time… just ask Jared Maxwell… but sometimes penalties have to be given. In the 62 games just 29 penalties have been blown, and on seven occasions a penalty goal has finished off a golden-point match.

What the numbers don’t reveal however is whether or not field position from the penalty was adequate to get the job done, like with the Wests Tigers last Sunday.

One interesting tidbit is the fact ‘away’ teams have been the victor in golden point games on 27 occasions compared to 26 times for the home side.

Being a lover of attacking play and tries, Stats Insider delved into the numbers behind the 14 tries that have decided golden-point games to determine how teams landed their killer blows. Surprisingly, just five of the 14 tries came from inside the attacking red zone, which is between 0-20 metres of the opposition’s try line. (But then again, perhaps that isn’t so surprising considering most teams try to set for an easy field-goal when they get this close.)

The majority of golden-point tries have originated from between 21-50 metres out. On six occasions a side has mounted a successful attack from this range, sometimes thanks to the foil of setting up for a long-range field-goal.

On three occasions teams have gone in from their own side of halfway… the ultimate way to win. Who can forget Shaun Kenny-Dowell’s intercept try in perhaps the greatest golden-point game, when the Roosters beat the Wests Tigers in Week One of the 2010 finals?

From this we can glean that teams that are so preoccupied with the one-pointer in the golden period should perhaps look to feign a set-up, but instead hit the edges and look for the ‘power play’.

Dragons fans who made the trip to Newcastle looked happier than kids on Christmas morning when they came out on top against the Knights last week. Their jubilation was understandable, given they took down Wayne Bennett, but it was also rooted in the fact it was the first time in the club’s history they had prevailed in golden point. Six earlier trips to the golden period of a match had seen the St George Illawarra boys beaten five times while they also managed to hold on for one draw.

Even with their stirring Round 1 victory over their old mentor they remain the club with the worst win percentage in golden point (just 14 per cent).

Who is the best in the league at getting the points when all is locked up after 80 minutes?

Percentage-wise the nod goes to the Raiders, who have managed to enjoy the euphoria of a last-ditch win on five of the seven occasions they have been in the position, for a 71 per cent success rate.

In terms of most wins, that honour is held by the Broncos who have six from their 10 games in golden point. They have fashioned out two draws as well, so while their win percentage is just 60 per cent, they have only come away empty handed on two occasions!

Penrith and South Sydney have played in the most golden-point games, with 11 each.

The Panthers have won six of those games and drawn two to be pretty handy in the clutch, while the Rabbitohs have won five but drawn four. In other words, the Rabbitohs have been involved in 44 per cent of all golden-point draws! (Perhaps Michael Maguire needs to dedicate a few afternoons as though it were under-10s training, where the players compete in a field-goal challenge for Mars Bars!)

Manly have the least experience when it comes to golden-point games, having played in just two: one of those was the very first occasion back in 2003. They are one and one.

(A complete account of your team’s golden-point record is listed at the bottom of this story.)

Lastly, since in reality these games do become field-goal shoot-outs, it’s probably relevant to analyse the success rate of clubs in terms of taking drop-goals in extra time.

Understandably, often panic takes over and teams take shots from long range or impossible angles, hoping for the miracle. So who are the cool heads?

Only Canberra and the Gold Coast have a reasonable strike rate when it comes to extra-time drop-goal attempts.

The Raiders tally 67 per cent success and the Titans 60 per cent, showing it is quality not quantity that rules in the pressure cooker atmosphere.

Getting back to the Bunnies’ Mars Bar competition – it seems appropriate, as they have been successful with just two field-goals in golden point from 17 attempts! In other words they are making just 12 per cent of their pot shots… perhaps go for the try boys?

Johnathan Thurston is one of the game’s best – but can you believe the Cowboys are zero from seven when it comes to field-goals in extra time?

The Sharks are two from 11, Knights two from eight, Roosters two from 12, Wests Tigers two from 16. The Eels are even worse – Parramatta suffers with a one-from-13 strike rate when going for the one-pointer in sudden death.

Seems to me teams are so scared to make a mistake and turn over possession they’d rather set up for an ***unlikely drop-goal.

But as we all know, fortune favours the brave…

Perhaps the answer isn’t mandating golden try after all… perhaps the answer is teams should just go for the knockout golden try inside the current golden-point system.

GOLDEN POINT RECORDS
Canberra (Played 7, won 5, lost 2, drawn 0, winning percentage: 71%)
Brisbane (P: 10, W: 6, L: 2, D: 2, 60%)
Gold Coast (P: 5, W: 3, L: 2, D: 0, 60%)
Sydney Roosters (P: 7, W: 4, L: 2, D: 1, 57.1%)
Penrith (P: 11, W: 6, L: 3, D: 2, 55%)
Canterbury (P: 4, W: 2, L: 1, D: 1, 50%)
Melbourne (P: 4, W: 2, L: 1, D: 1, 50%)
Cronulla (P: 10, W: 5, L: 5, D: 0, 50%)
Manly (P: 2, W: 1, L: 1, D: 0, 50%)
South Sydney (P: 11, W: 5, L: 2, D: 4, 45.5%)
North Qld (P: 10, W: 4, L: 5, D: 1, 40%)
Wests Tigers (P: 10, W: 3, L: 7, D: 0, 30%)
New Zealand (P: 8, W: 2, L: 3, D: 3, 25%)
Newcastle (P: 8, W: 2, L: 6, D: 0, 25%)
Parramatta (P: 10, W: 2, L: 6, D: 2, 20%)
St.G Illawarra (P: 7, W: 1, L: 5, D: 14.3, %)