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18 Mar 2018 1:47
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    NRL makes case for most open season yet

    The NRL's first round provided the most surprise wins from perennial battlers in the league's 110-year history, backing up claims of the most open season ever.

    - article from

    NRL heavyweights predicted one of the most open competitions on record, and the competition's longest-struggling clubs delivered.

    For the first time in the 110-year history of the NRL, ARL and NSWRL competitions, each of the bottom four teams from the previous season won their opening-round clashes this weekend.

    It comes after one of the busiest off-seasons in the game's history saw more than $12 million splashed on the biggest 17 recruits for this year alone.

    "I think it'll be a very tight competition going by the first round," Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said.

    "It typifies what I'm saying, I think a lot of rosters have improved, which is good."

    Tight could be an understatement.

    Both the Wests Tigers and Newcastle benefited bigtime from their recruitment drives.

    Kalyn Ponga was the Knights' best against Manly on Friday night in front of the biggest crowd of the Nathan Brown era, before Mitchell Pearce sent 23,000 people into raptures in golden point.

    At the Wests Tigers it was the returning face of Benji Marshall that helped the merged club keep their cool, even after halfback Luke Brooks was sin-binned for 10 minutes in an enthralling affair.

    With everything on the line, Corey Thompson scored the match-winner for the Tigers.

    The Warriors too benefited from the composure of Blake Green in the No.6 jersey.

    One of the lesser-name halves to move during the off-season, Green proved his addition could be as vital as any with the way he controlled the game providing the perfect foil for Shaun Johnson.

    The Warriors win over South Sydney also ended their horror run in Perth, The victory in front of 38,000 fans as part of the Optus Stadium double-header was their first in the west from 10 attempts.

    It would have been the kind of upset Todd Greenberg was hoping for when he declared the 2018 premiership race one of the most open he had ever seen.

    Gold Coast made history of their own when they pulled off the biggest comeback in Titans history to beat Canberra.

    Down 18-0 and then 24-6 in the first half, recruit Michael Gordon's composure and accuracy with the boot helped them to a 30-28 victory.

    In total, five of the teams who missed last year's finals chalked up wins on the opening weekend, after St George Illawarra's season-opening defeat of Brisbane.

    In comparison, Melbourne were the only top eight team to account for a rival that missed the finals, having beaten Canterbury in the second match of the Perth double-header.

    Critics know never to judge too much from round one. But in 2018, more long-suffering fans than every have a reason to believe.


    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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