Notwithstanding Highlanders fans being upset, this weekend’s Super Rugby Aotearoa golden point extra-time win has vital context for the Chiefs 2021 season.
By outlasting the home side in the relentless back-and-forth nature of their match in Dunedin, after the sides ended 80 minutes at 23-all, the reality of a draw in Super Rugby now has been removed. Under the trial law variations, Super Rugby sides were provided an additional 10 minutes to contest for the win. Winner takes all, and on Saturday night, it was the Chiefs who stole the competition points.
No theft had taken place though, as Josh Ioane did have an opportunity to win the game for the hometown side. After three minutes of golden point extra time, he sliced a drop kick wide. It was right in front of The Zoo as well; which would have sent the Forsyth-Barr Stadium fans into rapture. No, it was good territory and a key steal from Anton Lienert-Brown who won a penalty.
That handed Damian McKenzie (see main photo) the ‘golden chance’ to spoil the party – redeeming himself from the earlier blown drop goal attempt near to the end of regular time. Handed a second opportunity, champion players do not miss that often, and he helped the extra point win before wiping away the nervous sweat from his brow.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 10, 2021
Close run, and an absolute thriller. It was the first time the golden point extra time rule was required. And while Clayton McMillan went from aggravation to elation within the case of ten minutes, his opposition coach Tony Brown was downhearted. Consoled only by the fact it was exciting yet, it could have gone either way; and proves that if the law variation had been used in either a Club game or a Bledisloe Cup match, it is a twist on the modern game that fans will have to learn to adapt to.
In context, Golden Point Extra Time win has vital impact for the Chiefs
Each side was balanced near the mid to bottom end of the Super Rugby Aotearoa table. A win is vital for the Chiefs, who retain a fine chance to make the end-of-season Cup final. Asked by SkySports host Jeff Wilson about the context of this win, head coach Clayton McMillan explained, “It’s a hell of a tight competition, isn’t it.
“We talked all week about the process, but deep down inside we knew this was a critical game that we had to win to stay in the contest [of Super Rugby Aotearoa]. The Highlanders would have been singing the same tune but look, we stay alive.
“We’ll watch tomorrow’s game with interest, and then we get back to work on Monday.”
The Chiefs win the first golden point in Super Rugby Aotearoa thanks to a Damian McKenzie penalty. Can they make the final?
— TAB Sport (@TAB_Sport) April 10, 2021
Now the Hamilton franchise (third place) has a three-point buffer over their Southern rivals (in fourth place). The close nature of the table means a win for the Hurricanes over the Crusaders on Sunday could now mean the continued chances for the Wellington side or…..they go the way of many who’ve faced the Championship side and failed.
Chances that are helped though, after the Highlanders achieved a rare win in Christchurch during the easter weekend round. So rare that if it was to occur twice in a row, that would be the first time since 2018. Maybe it proves that the ‘Saders hardly ever slip up more than once. Yet if you added in drawn games that could have theoretically become match outcomes, more losses might have occurred.
Imagine then if these ongoing local derby games are carry on being balanced precariously – as tonight’s match was – then added golden point extra time could cost Scott Robertson’s side more results than they might have in 2017/18/19/20.
Club match outcomes and Bledisloe Cup results might be altered
Not only should this night’s match outcome be put in context, then the highest level and at grassroots might too have ramifications on games played out to a draw.
In the Harbour Rugby fixtures on Saturday afternoon, the game at Moire Park ended in a closely fought draw. Played in the rain, the club game will only afford even points to the sides yet when seen in the chances afforded by golden point extra time, a result might have been found.
Club games can see draws occur, as the impact of tries scored without conversions can see a 10-10 result. Or penalties counting to a 21-21 final scoreline. How much extra time could change this draw, as it might have in October during a Bledisloe Cup fixture.
Whether it is a big occasion, a Super Rugby local derby game, or down at the club level, the prospect of how altered laws might see more worthy outcomes found. However, while it might be satisfactory to some, the purists will always have the argument that ‘two teams who reach an impasse, are both equally deserving of the plaudits.
— Sam Owen (@samueltowen) April 10, 2021
Yes, that is true. And to be fair, only the International matches of the future could find lawmakers seeing drawn matches offered ten more minutes, to find a result. That still might not empathize with upset Highlanders fans but, many across the rugby globe were left out of breath by this exciting match’s conclusion.
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“Main photo credit”
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