Off the Wall

There are some things the AFL does better than the NRL - but the rules governing drawn grand finals are certainly not among them.

Rugby league ditched grand final replays after we had drawn grand finals in 1977 and 1978. The AFL persists with them - and even has to hold a special meeting to amend its rules so there won't be a second drawn game, and another replay, this Saturday.

The last draws in the NSWRL premiership were in 1977, and then again in 1978. In 1977 The Dragons and the Eels drew9 all, but in the replay the Dragons scored a lopsided 22-0 win, In 1978 Manly and the Sharks drew 11 all. In the replay Manly won 16-0.

The first replay drew a crowd of 53,000 - but in 1978 the crowd was just 33,000...and that doubtless contributed to the end of grand final replays.

We are well served by the current system - on Sunday night if the teams are tied at fulltime, there will be five minutes extra play, then the teams will change ends, and they will play until one team scores. A couple of weekends ago it went for 99 minutes - but we got a result.

The decisive grand final issue needs to be kept separate from the " golden point" rule which applies in the premiership season. We had decisive grand final outcomes before the golden point system was introduced - and we need to keep them no matter what happens to golden point in the premiership.

The AFL will make $30 million or so extra from next Saturday's replay - but you could tell on the faces on the players on Saturday that they regard a rematch as an appalling outcome. And neither coach liked it either.

The AFL won't even commit to a serious review of its current system - but it will change the rules for next Saturday!

And it has an extra time rule in its semi finals and finals - just not in the grand final!

We have our first all Sydney grand final in six years - and one which on paper looks like being a classic contest. It will provide a timely boost to the game in Sydney given that we get another AFL "challenge" in 2011.

The Dragons will be favourites - but in my view at a false price. The Roosters have shown they deserve to be there, and they will give the 2010 premiership grand final a real shake.

The Dragons have set the pace all season - and if they win it will cap a remarkable coaching career for Wayne Bennett. And years of frustration for Dragons fans will end.

Last night's crowd of 71,000 plus augurs well for the game's future. The grand final should be a sell out by Monday or Tuesday.

We will have a grand final that befits a great season.

There is one area the AFL does do better on - and that is keeping club discipline during the finals.

I find it appalling that the Eels board have been manoeuvring to sack coach Daniel Anderson in grand final week - this Tuesday!

Frankly, David Gallop should fine them for not just bringing the game into dispute - but for appalling arrogance.

Dennis Fitzgerald had his faults - but he would not have behaved so appallingly in grand final week.

There are reports that Gary Ablett (jnr) had planned to announce his future this week (with a move to the new Gold Coast team possible). Now it appears any announcement may be deferred - to avoid distracting from the replay.

What a pity the cabal running the Eels did not have the same consideration for the best interests of the game?

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