The footy is back and it was the Parramatta Eels and the Brisbane Broncos kicking things off upon the resumption.
After the NRL was forced to stop for 67 days due to COVID-19, Suncorp Stadium was the venue for its triumphant return.
As such, the anticipation and the tension were palpable.
With the 58-0 scoreline from the 2019 finals lingering in the minds of many, the game was anything but to start.
The opening half produced some dogged, gritty defence; both teams going tit-for-tat with some bruising defence.
The new six again rule for ruck infringements was in place and it worked in the Eels favour to start.
Back-to-back calls led to Marata Niukore powering over and reaching out to score.
Brodie Croft was solid in his first Broncos match and did it all in the first half; running, passing and kicking.
He threw the dummy as he ran the ball up, sliced through and outpaced Clint Gutherson to score.
At 6-all and evenly poised, it would be the Eels who again took the ascendancy.
As the Eels looked to pressure the Broncos line, they halted the momentum for a while.
It took a miraculous sideline putdown by Maika Sivo to get the Eels back in front.
Sivo raced for the corner, leaped acrobatically and contorted his body in a way allowing him to reach out and score.
The Broncos were not devoid of chances; they were there. They just could not capitalise on the finishing touch.
The 12-6 scoreline at half-time was an accurate representation of the first half.
Right out of the gates, the Eels meant business and capitalised on continued Broncos errors to extend the lead.
Gutherson stormed onto a Junior Paulo pass and showed some quick heels to score.
It was then veteran centre Michael Jennings who shimmied and jinked his way over the line to score.
Back-rower Shaun Lane picked up where he left off in 2019, powering over defenders to score the second last try.
Then a lovely half-break and offload from Ryan Matterson led to a try for Waqa Blake.
In the end, the scoreline reflected the second half blitz and the Eels, of late, seem to have the better of the Broncos.
Brad Arthur was pleased with how his forwards played but implored that consistency was now crucial.
“We had two front-rowers that could have played the whole game and they are a bit dirty that I didn’t leave them out there longer,” Arthur said of Paulo and Campbell-Gillard.
“It is a credit to them for the work we have done in the break because I think physically we were pretty good too.”
Not afraid to say what he feels to his players, Arthur praised his side’s patience that they worked on in the pre-season.
“We have worked on our patience in the pre-season,” Arthur said.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
2. Junior Paulo
- Ryan Matterson