After 67 days sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parramatta have extended their unbeaten start to the NRL season with a convincing win over Brisbane.
The Eels made it three wins from three in 2020 as they defeated the Broncos 34-6 in a six tries to one romp at Suncorp Stadium.
The result completed a successful return to action for the NRL, suspended since March 22 due to the coronavirus crisis.
The new six-again rule for infringements in the ruck, crafted during the competition’s hiatus, had an instant impact on the game.
With their second set for the night, the Eels got back-to-back six-again calls and used that to maximum advantage with Marata Niukore crashing over the fourth minute.
The new rule and the move back to a one-referee system made for a frenetic match played at a brutal pace, especially for players who have only been back training for three weeks.
The Broncos had a golden opportunity to get on the board but Anthony Milford slipped just as he appeared destined to pounce on a Brodie Croft grubber.
The young Broncos half, who failed two temperature tests pre-match upon arriving at the stadium before passing a third, did it all himself to get the home team on the board in the 18th minute.
Croft’s brilliance was bettered by Eels winger Maika Sivo in the 28th minute when he somehow got the ball down in the corner with Mitchell Moses converting to ensure the visitors had a 12-6 halftime lead.
Eels captain Clint Gutherson made the most of poor Broncos defence to extend the visitors lead early in the second half.
Tries in quick succession to veteran centre Michael Jennings and Shaun Lane put the Eels out of sight as the mountain of defensive work for the Broncos took its toll before Waqa Blake’s late four-pointer put the icing on the cake.
Payne Haas was a lone presence in the middle for the Broncos with David Fifita out injured, picking up 161 metres but it was the Eels who impressed as they went to 3-0 for the first time since 1993.
The Eels dominated territory, particularly in the second half, with nine players picking up over 100 running metres.
Parramatta host Manly next weekend in the first of five straight matches at Bankwest Stadium.
Brisbane will be out to bounce back next Thursday when they welcome Sydney Roosters to Suncorp Stadium.