In the fourth round of the NRL we saw three matches decided by golden point, after no games in the first three rounds finished with level scores in regulation time. The St George Dragons did beat the Brisbane Broncos by a single point in round 3, but this was due to a field goal before the siren.
In week 4 the Panthers downed the Tigers; the Sea Eagles handed the Rabbitohs their first defeat and the Dragons overcame the Knights with extra-time field goals. In the other matches the Roosters dominated the Broncos, the Warriors comfortably disposed of the Titans, the Raiders smashed the Cowboys, The Eels beat the Sharks and the Storm got out of jail free against the Bulldogs.
With three matches (four if the Bulldogs had managed to convert their last try) going to golden point questions are being raised as to whether this is a fair way of deciding NRL regular season games. There are three realistic alternatives: golden try, 10 minutes of extra time with no golden score and just calling the game a draw if scores are level after 80 minutes.
The main arguments in favour of golden point are that it almost always means that there is a result and that it makes the game more exciting. The main issues are whether having one team take all the premiership points when the two cannot be split over 80 minutes is fair and that the extra time simply degenerates into long range drop goal attempts.
The extra time certainly does make some very dull games more interesting, such as the Panthers and Tigers this week where both teams were horrendous for 80 minutes before a frantic golden period. The other two matches decided in extra time were nothing to write home about either, but were not as bad.
Apart from the golden point controversy the main takeaway from the weekend is the form of the three Queensland sides. While the Titans were always going to struggle this year, seeing the Cowboys and Broncos join them in the bottom four is a big surprise.
The Cowboys were poor last year as well, but were expected to bounce back with Michael Morgan fit again and the monster forward pack at their disposal. The Broncos have been particularly disappointing, with new coach Anthony Siebold seemingly out of his depth without any senior players in the team to rely on.