The first two weeks were a struggle but the season resumption has seen the Sydney Roosters defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs 28-12.
The win was the Roosters first of the season, and leaves the Rabbitohs with more questions than answers.
On the back of strong performances by James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner, the Roosters simply had too much firepower.
With the NRL back underway after a COVID-19 affected season, all eyes were on Latrell Mitchell.
Mitchell, who defected to the Rabbitohs for the 2020 season from the Roosters, had previously struggled at fullback.
Though he was no match for the incumbent Australian fullback in Tedesco, who showed everyone just how good he is.
The first try came early, when a soaring Daniel Tupou came up with the ball and planted it as he returned from the air.
A small dogfight ensued before a play down the left saw Josh Morris in space and kicking ahead for halfback Kyle Flanagan.
With many eyes on Flanagan this year, the try was a welcome boost for his confidence.
Souths would hit back, though, as a short pass from Mitchell found a hard-running Cameron Murray who bustled over to score.
At 12-6 at the break, it looked evenly poised but a quick two-try blitz gave the Roosters all the momentum at the resumption.
First, Tedesco did it all himself; busting through the line and outpacing all Rabbitohs defenders to score.
Captain Boyd Cordner was then there to charge onto a Luke Keary short pass, a trademark Cordner try.
Needing some points to stay in it, the Rabbitohs would score a controversial try through prop Thomas Burgess.
Though that would be as close as they got to the Roosters.
The nail in the coffin came when Jake Friend grubbered ahead for himself to score, sealing the Roosters opening win for 2020.
There will be concerns over Victor Radley and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, though, both placed on report for high tackles.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was pleased with how his side defended and kept the Rabbitohs at bay.
“I thought defensively we were good and handled [the game]. I didn’t feel like we were under threat for most of that game,” Robinson said.
“I felt like we were strong and the attitude we gave to whatever happened was Roosters defence.
“I thought we nailed our combinations in attack, they were really good.”
He also praised his side’s ability to move the ball but knows improvement is still in his side.
“I thought we moved the ball well, carried well and supported well,” Robinson continued.
“There were some good things but room for improvement as well at the end of sets.”
Despite the loss, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett was proud of his side’s effort given the players they were missing.
“I thought we were pretty competitive, there were good things that we did,” Bennett said.
“You always miss your best players but that’s the sport we play and we all realise that.
“Troy [Dargan] didn’t let us down. I was pleased with our effort and we’re not that far off the money.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. James Tedesco
2. Boyd Cordner
- Brett Morris