Extra time will guarantee a “fairer” outcome in Friday night’s NRL semi-final than the golden point rule alone ever could, according to Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett.
North Queensland face the Broncos in Townsville for the right to take on Cronulla in next weekend’s preliminary final.
If history is any guide, it will be an early test of the NRL’s new rules around drawn finals.
Two of the last three matches between the Cowboys and the Broncos have been decided by golden point – including last year’s thrilling grand final.
But the Australian Rugby League Commission moved earlier this year to introduce two five-minute periods of extra time to be played in finals if scores are level at full-time.
One of the leading agitators against the golden point rule, Bennett said he was “really pleased” about the change.
“I reminded the players of that this week. It’s much fairer, I’m more happy with that,” he said.
“It gives everyone an opportunity to continue to play football for 10 minutes.
“After that I accept the fact, golden point – there’s got to be a result and that’s a fair way to do it.”
Bennett is braced for another close contest against the Cowboys, and believes there are a perfect storm of reasons why the two teams can’t help but fight out close ones these days.
“The rivalry between the two clubs, two Queensland-based teams … there’s a great mixture of everything there and it does bring the best out of everybody,” he said.
“They’ve been wonderful games, last season and this season.
“Not one of them has disappointed anybody. I’m confident that’ll happen again.”
North Queensland coach Paul Green expects the same, sensing an extra spring in the step of his players this week.
“We’ve had some pretty epic games recently,” he said.
“There is a bit of excitement in the way they have trained.
“We’ve built up a great rivalry. We have a lot of respect for them as a team.”
THE COWBOYS AND THE BRONCOS: THE LAST THREE
Round 11, 2016 – Cowboys 19 def Broncos 18, 1300SMILES Stadium
* Matt Gillett scored two tries but Johnathan Thurston broke Brisbane’s hearts with a drop goal five minutes from time, completing a stunning fightback from 18-6 down early in the second half.
Round 4, 2016 – Broncos 21 def Cowboys 20, Suncorp Stadium
* The Broncos got a measure of revenge for their grand final loss, with Anthony Milford kicking truly five minutes into golden point time to seal victory in a match filled with late drama.
Grand final, 2015 – Cowboys 17 def Broncos 16, ANZ Stadium
* Perhaps one of the greatest matches of all time. Kyle Feldt’s try at the death set the stage for Johnathan Thurston. His conversion attempt to win it hit the upright but he potted a field goal in extra time to get the Cowboys home.