On Thursday night the NRL had its triumphant moment, successfully restarting the 2020 season in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
With Parramatta's 34-6 victory over Brisbane broadcast internationally in more than 70 countries, the world's first English-speaking sporting league to resume amid the COVID-19 crisis was expected to draw a significant audience.
The reaction from those millions watching abroad was visible on social media and in media coverage online.
Despite an error mistaking the Broncos for the Bulldogs, they proudly asserted that following the win in Brisbane, "Parramatta is on course for the time being to win the fifth NRL title in club history".
"With the sound of skin slapping skin and an echoing oomph of air escaping lungs as players collided at pace, the National Rugby League led the charge for elite sports returning to action in Australia," AP News reported.
"It was the furthest thing from the strict social distancing regulations that have been the norm in Australia in the coronavirus pandemic.
"The opening bone-jarring collision between Parramatta forward Regan Campbell-Gillard and Broncos tacklers signaled a genuine easing of the lockdown when it was broadcast across Australia in prime time."
International newswire AFP also covered the game with a report titled "Fake cheers and cardboard spectators greet rugby league's return", analysing the different tactics used by the NRL to negate health concerns and bring atmosphere in an empty stadium.
"Before the match, the NRL ran online adverts aimed at overseas viewers unfamiliar with the sport declaring "no helmets, no pads, no fear, no worries"," AFP reported.
"While the match was played behind closed doors and under strict health protocols, there was no shying away in the tackle as players from both sides launched into bone-crunching hits."
US sports reporter with the San Jose Mercury Cam Inman is familiar with rugby league as one of the beat writers in San Francisco that covered Jarryd Hayne's much-publicised move from NRL to NFL with the 49ers.
Because of Hayne he took an interest in rugby league, watching the Eels and State of Origin footy to gain better insight into the 49ers' recruit.
When Inman heard over Twitter that the NRL was going to be resuming its season after it – like many sport leagues in the world – was abruptly stopped in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, he was keen to watch, and almost poetically, it happened to be an Eels game.
"These guys were just going 100 per cent full speed without a care in the world outside of the field," Inman told Wide World of Sports.
"That just shows you the element of competition that's in these pro athletes.
"I was just stunned at how you see the physical-ness and the speed. It was a nice refresher into how that sport is played, how they tackle, and the teamwork involved, not just one star player."
Maika Sivo's acrobatic try to give the Eels a 12-6 lead before halftime and Michael Jennings' solo effort were standouts for Inman.
"When he [Sivo] made it inside the pylon (corner post), that dude was awesome," Inman said.
"Jennings scored a try in the second half that was pretty damn impressive where he blasted right through, faked a few guys out. He was pretty damn good."
Though some of the rules were still hard to grasp, Inman concluded it was an "entertaining" game and said it was "cool" that the NRL was available internationally to stream on local networks, something that was normally a bit harder to organise.
"I did want to see how they were going to adapt and it's a good sneak preview of how American sports will have to adapt," he said.
The Eels started a campaign with three wins in a row for the first time since 1993 at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.
The new six-again rule for infringements in the ruck, crafted during the competition's hiatus, delivered instantly for the visitors. On their second set of the night, the Eels received 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.
Brodie Croft shook off a pre-game drama when he failed two temperature tests on his way into the stadium before passing a third to get the all-clear to take to the field to score a brilliant individual try in the 18th minute.
That was as good as it got for the Broncos, with Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd both bombing golden opportunities before master finisher Maika Sivo somehow touched down in the corner to ensure the Eels had a 12-6 halftime advantage.
Broncos captain Alex Glenn, making his first appearance of the season after a hamstring injury sidelined him earlier in the season, had to go to hospital at the break after suffering a bad cut to his leg in the first half.
Glenn's absence was felt in the second term as the Eels dominated, running in four unanswered tries through Michael Jennings, Clint Gutherson, Shaun Lane and Waqa Blake.
Eels coach Brad Arthur was understandably happy with his team's performance but dismissed any suggestion they deserved to be considered premiership contenders.
"There's still 17 games before we get to the finals," Arthur said.
"We've just got to be able to back this performance up. We missed the opportunity after the Titans to back up the performance, we need to learn to go back and start again."
Parramatta host Manly next weekend in the first of five straight matches at Bankwest Stadium.
– with AAP
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