NRL Round 1 Fixtures and Tips

Andrew Hendrie:

Rugby League fans rejoice! NRL is back as the 2020 season gets underway with a bang on Thursday night as the Eels and Bulldogs collide!

What a way to launch a brand new decade of NRL as bitter rivals Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs square off at Bankwest Stadium. Touted as one of the premiership favourites in 2020, can the Eels turn Bankwest into a fortress and start their season on the perfect note? Or will the Bulldogs – who finished 2019 on a high despite failing to make the finals – conjure up for the first upset of the season?

Friday night football begins in the nation’s capital as Canberra Raiders play host to Gold Coast Titans. Grand finalists last year, the Raiders will view this as the ideal opportunity to pick up from where they left off, with the Titans tipped for another tough season as they desperately try to avoid another wooden spoon.

The second game on Friday sees North Queensland Cowboys take on Brisbane Broncos in a big derby showdown in Townsville. The Cowboys will be playing their first game at their new home ground, but if recent matches between these two are any indication, this could go right down to the wire.

Super Saturday starts in the Hunter as Newcastle Knights face New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium. The Knights fell away after a great start to 2019 and will be targeting a consistent season and a finals spot in 2020, while the Warriors have been tipped by man to endure a rough season. Can the Kiwi club prove their doubters wrong?

South Sydney Rabbitohs then meet Cronulla Sharks in the second game on Saturday at ANZ Stadium. Wayne Bennett has assembled a strong squad in Redfen, and will be banking on Latrell Mitchell to operate at the peak of his powers after his big-money move from the Sydney Roosters during the off-season.

Speaking of the Roosters, the two-time reigning premiers launch their title defence at the foot of the mountains as they come up against Penrith Panthers in the last game on Saturday night. Completing a three-peat will be a mountainous task, but if any team can, it’s Trent Robinson’s charges.

Manly Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm have had some fierce games over the last decade or so and the two sides renew their rivalry on Sunday at Lottoland. Manly surprised a lot of teams with Des Hasler back at the helm last season and will be determined to keep improving in 2020, while Melbourne will no doubt be entrenched in the top four once again under master coach Craig Bellamy and warhorse captain Cameron Smith.

Round 1 action concludes at WIN Stadium on Sunday night as St. George Illawarra Dragons meet Wests Tigers. Both sides have struggled over the last few seasons – who launches their 2020 campaign on a winning note?

NRL Round 1 Fixtures

Thursday March 12

Parramatta Eels vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Friday March 13

Canberra Raiders vs Gold Coast Titans
North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos

Saturday March 14

Newcastle Knights vs New Zealand Warriors
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Cronulla Sharks
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters

Sunday March 15

Manly Sea Eagles vs Melbourne Storm
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Wests Tigers