The Parramatta Eels maintained their perfect start to the National Rugby League season with a convincing 34-6 result against Brisbane Broncos tonight at Suncorp Stadium, as the NRL rebooted following the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.
It had been 67 days since the completion of Round 2, but the football was back. The first half was a breathless display between the sides, Parramatta led 12-6 through tries to Matara Niukore, and Maika Sivo.
The Eels picked up right where they left off in their first two contests, with a vibrant display would have electrified those watching back home in Sydney's west. Brisbane contributed to their own downfall equally, with a stream of errors and lapses which had them on the back foot.
Parramatta put their foot on the throat of the home side in the second half. The blue-and-golds piled on a further four tries to Clint Gutherson, the evergreen Michael Jennings, backrower Shaun Lane and centre Waqa Blake, stamping their authority on the return of rugby league to the big stage.
Besides the points, the Eels suffocated the Broncos with possession. Much of the second half looked like the screen was tilted to the right, as the Eels piled on the pressure and tired out the Broncos through attack, showing that maybe 2020 might be the year to break the decades-long hoodoo.
For the Broncos, there were short moments of brightness. Both Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford bombed tries that would have reduced the margin, but besides that the Broncos weren't able to get out of their own way and into the Eels half in order to muster any sort of comeback.
Their sole points came from a slicing run from Brodie Croft, the former Storm half making it 6-6 midway through the first half - but the horns fell silent at the Drive-in, an event which housed a large group of the Broncos fans as they saw their side's unbeaten start come to a crushing halt.
Parramatta will look to continue their dominant start to 2020 when they host Manly at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday week, while Brisbane remain at Suncorp where they'll host the Roosters next Thursday.
One final note - it was just good to see Rugby League again! There were plenty of hurdles put between the league and tonight's restart, but to the ARLC's credit, they cleared all of them and despite some grumbling, the spectacle delivered and is a hopeful sign of what is to come.