Some people say games are won and lost on the back of your kicking game. Others will say it?s just a minor aspect of a game that requires much more than one kick to win a game. However, the latter is so far away from the truth it becomes mildly amusing. Sure you?re not going to definitely win every game by kicking a 40/20, nor will you be assured of victory with a perfectly placed grubber and you certainly won?t lose games by picking out the opposition fullback on one occasion. But there?s one type of kick that can change games, finals and even premierships.
It?s a simple kick really, all you have to do is drop the ball on the ground and kick it with sufficient power and direction to put it between two posts. However it?s a kick that wins games and makes players legends. With the introduction of golden point a few years ago, we have steadily seen field goals increase in both importance and also in number. No one will forget Shaun Timmins? famous kick that sailed between the uprights at Telstra Stadium to win game one of Origin 2004. Likewise, Jonathan Thurston?s drop goal, that touched a Blues hand, to send Origin one 2005 into golden point, which Queensland won after a Matthew Bowen intercept, will be remembered for years to come.
It?s a shame to see the lack of field goals in the current game; this can be put down to the fact that the value of them was reduced from two points to one over three decades ago. Many matches before this were decided by a drop goal and it wasn?t uncommon to see numerous amounts kicked in a single game. The most famous exponent of this was Souths great Eric Simms who kicked 86 field goals in his 206 game career. It was Simms ability to put over the two pointers that resulted in them being reduced to one point in 1971, this was highlighted in a match against Penrith in 1969 when he booted five in a single match.
While this skill doesn?t really play a major part in picking the great players from the good players. It certainly adds a feather to the hat of your traditional ?match winning? players. Andrew Johns holds the NRL record for the most field goals in a career, a staggeringly high number of 20. These match-winning players who are excellent under pressure can once again show off their talents as they skilfully slot a 30-metre drop kick through the posts to secure a win for their team. Apart from the aforementioned games, one famous game comes to mind. The 1998 NRL Semi Final between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels was a game where field goal kicking came to the fore. While it was a brilliant comeback through tries by the Bulldogs, it will be Craig Pollamounta?s magical drop goal that?s remembered throughout time. Struck from all of 50-metres out, the ball, according to the referee, sailed just under the posts and meant the Bulldogs went to extra time. Halligan eventually kicked a field goal in extra time and it helped Canterbury score another 2 tries to win the game. However, there are some people to this day, myself included, that believe that magical drop kick from 50-metres out sailed over. Whether it did or not, that kick along with the game will be remembered throughout rugby league history.
Drop goals have always been a very exciting prospect for the fans. Fans all around the country hold their breaths when a drop kick is unleashed with a few minutes to go. But perhaps they are not used enough. Perhaps these kicks should be used more often to just put you that extra bit in front, being behind by 7 points is a much more daunting prospect than 6. Putting on points is bound to boost the morale of your team and it can either shift the momentum towards the kicker?s team, or just make the momentum even stronger. After all, rugby league is as much a mental game as it is physical.
The art of kicking field goals is very much alive, even if they?re only worth 1 point! It?s an exciting time for league fans, as matches seem to be getting closer. Who knows, things may just come down to premierships being won and lost on the back of drop goals. Here?s to more field goals!
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