NRL season 2020, so exactly where were we?

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It has been a long two months since we last witnessed an NRL game in full flight. With the competition halted after just two rounds, there wasn't much of a form line developed, although some teams obviously fared better than others. Of the sixteen teams, six have yet to feel the pain of defeat in 2020, while another six are still searching for their first victories.

The battle for the wooden spoon has an early familiarity about it with the Bulldogs jostling with the Warriors and Titans for the honour, but they are joined surprisingly by last year's premiers the Roosters, as well as the disappointing Sharks and Dragons.

We take a look back at what happened at the beginning of the season, as well as what lies ahead for the 16 teams battling for NRL premiership glory.

Jump ahead to your team.

Eels
Knights
Raiders
Storm
Broncos
Panthers
Cowboys
Rabbitohs
Tigers
Sea Eagles
Sharks
Roosters
Dragons
Bulldogs
Warriors
Titans

In NRL ladder order, as we left it:

1. Parramatta Eels

The Eels had their fans salivating over the prospect of another promising season. Sitting atop the ladder undefeated when the NRL shut up shop, there was plenty of talk around a drought-breaking premiership. Closer inspection of their first two games will show them really struggling against an ordinary Bulldogs team in the opening game, which they only won through a late fortuitous bounce of the ball. They then travelled to the Gold Coast to dismember the disjointed Titans, earning themselves enough for and against credit to sit atop the ladder. They have the advantage moving forward of playing all their home games and several away games at Bankwest Stadium. A true indication of their 2020 potential will be witnessed over the next five weeks.

Home: Bankwest Stadium

2020 season start: Eels 8 - 2 Bulldogs, Titans 6 - 46 Eels

Draw: Broncos (A), Sea Eagles (H), Panthers (H), Roosters (A), Raiders (H), Cowboys (H), Knights (A), Sea Eagles (A), Tigers (H), Bulldogs (A), Sharks (A), Dragons (H), Storm (H), Rabbitohs (H), Warriors (A), Panthers (A), Broncos (H). Tigers (A).

2. Newcastle Knights

The Knights won their first two games of the season, shutting out the Warriors at home, before dominating the Tigers in the second half of their clash at Leichhardt Oval. Key to their early success was Jayden Brailey, the young hooker signed from the Sharks, who started his Newcastle stint looking very sharp out of dummy half. With Brailey out for the season with an ACL tear, the Knights have cleverly signed Andrew McCullough from the Broncos. McCullough is an Origin level hooker who will match Brailey's contribution with the added bonus of a wealth of experience. Mitchell Pearce looks to be playing some of his best football and his combination with Kalyn Ponga at fullback will be key as they look for early success against some tougher opponents.

Temporary home: Central Coast Stadium

2020 season start: Knights 20 - 0 Warriors, Tigers 24 - 42 Knights

Draw: Panthers (A), Raiders (A), Storm (H), Broncos (H), Cowboys (A), Sea Eagles (A), Eels (H), Rabbitohs (A), Bulldogs (H), Storm (A), Tigers (H), Sea Eagles (H), Cowboys (H), Warriors (A), Sharks (H), Roosters (A), Dragons (H), Titans (A).

3. Canberra Raiders

Last year's grand finalists started the year in fine form beating the Titans at home and the Warriors on the Gold Coast. Similar to the Eels they were up against two teams who will be battling it out for the wooden spoon and await a truer test of their premiership credentials in the coming weeks. They won't have to wait long for a tougher contest as they travel to Melbourne to face the Storm on Saturday. English halfback signing George Williams was looking good as he adjusted to his new surroundings and his combination with Jack Wighton could develop into one of the competition's best.

Temporary home: Campbelltown Stadium

2020 season start: Raiders 24 - 6 Titans, Warriors 6 - 20 Raiders

Draw: Storm (A) Knights (H), Tigers (A), Sea Eagles (H), Eels (A), Dragons (H), Storm (H), Roosters (A), Rabbitohs (H), Cowboys (A), Panthers (A), Broncos (H), Titans (A), Bulldogs (H), Roosters (H), Dragons (A), Warriors (H), Sharks (A).

4. Melbourne Storm

The Storm were off to a typically methodical start to the 2020 season, winning both games away from home in tight tussles against the Sea Eagles and Sharks. Their preparations for the restart were thrown into chaos after Victorian coronavirus restrictions meant a move to Albury for training, but they are back in Melbourne and preparing for a tough resumption against the Raiders. Being one of only five clubs to play their home games at their actual home ground will be an enormous advantage in the first seven weeks back. It should help launch the Storm on another run deep into the pointy end of the season.

Home: AAMI Park

2020 season start: Sea Eagles 4 - 18 Storm, Sharks 10 - 12 Storm

Draw: Raiders (H), Rabbitohs (H), Knights (A), Panthers (A), Warriors (H), Roosters (H), Raiders (A), Titans (H), Broncos (A), Knights (H), Bulldogs (H), Roosters (A), Eels (A), Sea Eagles (H), Rabbitohs (A), Cowboys (H), Tigers (H), Dragons (A).

5. Brisbane Broncos

Another of the undefeated teams, the Broncos were most impressive in beating tough opponents in the Cowboys and Rabbitohs. They lost new halfback Brodie Croft to injury early in the Rabbitohs clash and the coronavirus-enforced break has allowed him to return to full fitness. Unfortunately forward Tevita Pangai wasn't able to serve his four match suspension during the break and he'll be missed up front for the Broncos. They have a testing return to competition, with premiership hopefuls lined up for the first four weeks, but will also enjoy the advantage of playing their home games at home.

Home: Suncorp Stadium

2020 season start: Cowboys 21 - 28 Broncos, Broncos 22 - 18 Rabbitohs

Draw: Eels (H), Roosters (H), Sea Eagles (A), Knights (A), Titans (H), Warriors (A), Bulldogs (H), Tigers (A), Storm (H), Sharks (H), Rabbitohs (A), Raiders (A), Dragons (H), Roosters (A), Panthers (H), Titans (A), Eels (A), Cowboys (H).

6. Penrith Panthers

The Panthers were very impressive, at least on the attacking side of the ball, winning two exciting contests to start the season, despite conceding plenty of easy points. Apisai Koroisau added some spark out of dummy-half on his return to the Panthers, while edge running wrecking ball Viliame Kikau was at his destructive best. They will have to resume their season without halfback Nathan Cleary who is taking a one-game rest following TikTok indiscretions. They head across town to Campbelltown for their home games starting with the high-flying Knights. Coach Ivan Cleary would have been putting extra work in on their defensive starts.

Temporary home: Campbelltown Stadium

2020 season start: Panthers 20 - 14 Roosters, Dragons 28 - 32 Panthers

Draw: Knights (H), Warriors (H), Eels (A), Storm (H), Rabbitohs (H), Tigers (A), Sharks (A), Cowboys (H), Titans (A), Sea Eagles (A), Raiders (H), Warriors (A), Sharks (H), Tigers (H), Broncos (A), Eels (H), Cowboys (A), Bulldogs (A) .

7. North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys are the first of the teams on the ladder to have lost a game, going down in a tough battle against long-time rivals the Broncos. They bounced back in the second round to take care of the Bulldogs. Jason Taumalolo was almost unstoppable for the Cowboys and he will be a key part of the club's hopes of returning to finals football this year. Michael Morgan looked a little lost at halfback, but will have a chance to find his feet early as they face the Titans, Sharks and Warriors in their opening three clashes. They also get to enjoy their homes games in the comfort of their brand new stadium.

Home: Queensland Country Bank Stadium

2020 season start: Cowboys 21 - 28 Broncos, Bulldogs 16 - 24 Cowboys

Draw: Titans (H), Sharks (A), Warriors (H), Tigers (A), Knights (H), Eels (A), Roosters (H), Panthers (A), Sea Eagles (H), Raiders (H), Titans (A), Rabbitohs (H), Roosters (A), Sharks (A), Dragons (H), Storm (A), Panthers (H), Broncos (H).

8. South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs were a bit unlucky to lose their second game of the year against the Broncos after a gallant effort. They have had their share of off field dramas during the break with Latrell Mitchell in trouble for breaching coronavirus restrictions and Cody Walker being caught on camera ending a fight with one kick. Add to that the need for James Roberts to check into a rehabilitation centre and you could reasonably expect their minds have been on other things during the hiatus. Coach Wayne Bennett is an expert on bringing teams together under fire and he'll have them ready to go first up against the arch-enemy Roosters. Mitchell faces his old club for the first time and by all accounts is set to make a statement from the fullback position.

Temporary home: Bankwest Stadium

2020 season start: Rabbitohs 22 - 18 Sharks, Broncos 22- 18 Rabbitohs

Draw: Roosters (A), Storm (A), Titans (H), Warriors (H), Panthers (A), Bulldogs (A), Tigers (H), Knights (H), Raiders (A), Dragons (A), Broncos (H), Cowboys (A), Sea Eagles (H), Eels (A), Storm (H), Tigers (A), Bulldogs (H), Roosters (H).

9. Wests Tigers

Despite feeling at home in ninth position the Tigers would have been disappointed with their second-up effort against the Knights after starting the season well with a victory over the Dragons. New hooker Billy Walters will have to step aside for Storm exchange player and future star of the game Harry Grant. Grant has enormous wraps on him and could be just the player the Tigers need to sort out their play around the ruck. The Tigers have several backs vying for the same positions and often getting in each other's way during games. Adam Doueihi appears to be set for the fullback role, leaving Moses Mbye in the centres with Joey Leilua and Corey Thompson back on the wing, while the puzzle of what to do with half Josh Reynolds remains. If anyone can sort it out it is coach Michael Maguire.

Home: Campbelltown Stadium

2020 season start: Dragons 14 - 24 Tigers, Tigers 24 - 42 Knights

Draw: Sharks (A), Titans (A), Raiders H), Cowboys (H), Bulldogs (A), Panthers (H), Rabbitohs (A), Broncos (H), Eels (A), Warriors (H), Knights (A), Bulldogs (H), Roosters (H), Panthers (A), Sea Eagles (A), Rabbitohs (H), Storm (A), Eels (H).

10. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles started with two of the toughest clashes of anyone, going down to the Storm before winning a one-point thriller over the Roosters. Tom Trbojevic looked to be back to his best at fullback and Daly Cherry-Evans was his usual commanding self at halfback. It will be interesting to see how they go playing their home games at Central Coast Stadium where the ghost of the Northern Eagles is still known to haunt. Coach Des Hasler will have ensured that no other team returns to the competition fitter than his Sea Eagles as they welcome former star Kieran Foran to Gosford for their opening clash against the Bulldogs.

Home: Central Coast Stadium

2020 season start: Sea Eagles 4 - 18 Storm, Roosters 8 - 9 Sea Eagles

Draw: Bulldogs (H), Eels (A), Broncos (H), Raiders (A), Sharks (H), Knights (H), Dragons (A), Eels (H), Cowboys (A), Panthers (H), Warriors (H), Knights (A), Rabbitohs (A), Storm (A), Tigers (H), Bulldogs (A), Titans (H), Warriors (A).

11. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks

The Sharks are the first of the winless teams on the ladder after losing close ones to the Rabbitohs and Storm. The Sharks seemed to be slow to adjust to the missing hard-won metres up the middle of the park following Paul Gallen's retirement. With the team on the back foot at times, the chances for halves Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson to shine were limited. Still coach John Morris will be happy that they were able to mix it with two of the competition big guns. With the shortened season ahead, a third straight loss starts to look dire, so they'll be primed to take on the Tigers.

Temporary home: Bankwest Stadium

2020 season start: Rabbitohs 22 - 18 Sharks, Sharks 10 - 12 Storm

Draw: Tigers (H), Cowboys (A), Dragons (A), Bulldogs (H), Sea Eagles (A), Titans (A), Panthers (H), Warriors (A), Dragons (H), Broncos (A), Eels (H), Titans (H), Panthers (A), Cowboys (H), Knights (A), Warriors (H), Roosters (A), Raiders (H).

12. Sydney Roosters

The reigning back-to-back premiers were pretty keen to have the results from the first two rounds wiped, as they had no points to lose. With attacking weapon Latrell Mitchell gone and more tellingly without halfback Cooper Cronk, the Roosters looked a bit off key in losses to the Panthers and Sea Eagles. They could have easily won both games, but lacked that killer finish that we've seen from them in recent years. New halfback Kyle Flanagan will need some time to settle into the side in the enormous boots he is wearing, but like the Sharks they can't afford to lose many more this early in the shortened season.

Home: Bankwest Stadium

2020 season start: Panthers 20 - 14 Roosters, Roosters 8 - 9 Sea Eagles

Draw: Rabbitohs (H), Broncos (A), Bulldogs (A), Eels (H), Dragons (H), Storm (A), Cowboys (A), Raiders (H), Warriors (A), Titans (H), Dragons (A), Storm (H), Tigers (A), Broncos (H), Raiders (A), Knights (H), Sharks (H), Rabbitiohs (A).

13. St George Illawarra Dragons

The army of red and white fans were treated to a disappointing start from the Dragons, who have made a habit of flying out of the blocks in recent years. On paper they have a very solid line-up which only increases the pressure on coach Paul McGregor with every failed season. The Dragons will feel a bit out of place playing their home games at Campbelltown Stadium, but they have to hit the ground running or risk another painful season. The departure of Gareth Widdop last year was a huge loss and they are yet to find a replacement for his on-field leadership. It really is time for halfback Ben Hunt to take this team by the horns and direct it towards the success it really should be capable of achieving.

Temporary home: Campbelltown Stadium

2020 season start: Dragons 14 - 24 Tigers, Dragons 28 - 32 Panthers

Draw: Warriors (A), Bulldogs (A), Sharks (H), Titans (A), Roosters (A), Raiders (A), Sea Eagles (H), Bulldogs (H), Sharks (A), Rabbitohs (H), Roosters (H), Eels (A), Broncos (A), Titans (H), Cowboys (A), Raiders (H), Knights (A), Storm (H).

14. Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

The Bulldogs showed some promise at the end of the 2019 season and looked to be continuing that form first up against the Eels. Their Achilles' heel of having absolutely no idea what to do in attack came back to haunt them once again and they lost narrowly at Bankwest Stadium. The defensive gains they made in that game were soon lost against the Cowboys the following week. Kieran Foran looks set for yet another return from injury and the Bulldogs desperately need his nous with the ball. If he can string together 18-straight games for the Bulldogs, they might not end up in another battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Temporary home: Bankwest Stadium

2020 season start: Eels 8 - 4 Bulldogs, Bulldogs 16 - 24 Cowboys

Draw: Sea Eagles (A), Dragons (H), Roosters (H), Sharks (A), Tigers (H), Rabbitohs (H), Broncos (A), Dragons (A), Knights (A), Eels (H), Storm (A), Tigers (A), Warriors (H), Raiders (A), Titans (H), Sea Eagles (H), Rabbitohs (A), Panthers (H).

15. New Zealand Warriors

From the very start of the 2020 season the Warriors were up against it with the coronavirus pandemic. By Round 2 they had made the decision to abandon their homeland for the sake of the NRL after New Zealand closed its borders. They could be excused for not having full focus as they went on to lose their season openers. Now, having spent two weeks quarantined in Tamworth in order to be back in Australia to restart the competition, they have promised a new resolve and determination to make the sacrifices worth their while. They certainly have the talent, it remains to be seen whether they can deliver on the field, as injuries sustained during training have taken an enormous toll on their starting line-up.

Temporary home: Central Coast Stadium

2020 season start: Knights 20 - 0 Warriors, Warriors 6 - 20 Raiders

Draw: Dragons (H), Panthers (A), Cowboys (H), Rabbitohs (A), Storm (A), Broncos (H), Titans (A), Sharks (H), Roosters (H), Tigers (A), Sea Eagles (A), Panthers (H), Bulldogs (A), Knights (H), Eels (H), Sharks (A), Raiders (A), Sea Eagles (H)

16. Gold Coast Titans

The Titans started 2020 right where they left off in 2019, disappointing their dwindling fans in both attack and defence. They have gone through the hiatus with controversy surrounding anti-vaxxer Bryce Cartwright, but instead of making an example of his dangerous beliefs the Queensland Government have granted him a medical exemption from the mandatory influenza vaccine. Interest now surrounds whether Cartwright will even be selected for the Titans' return game against the Cowboys. The pressure is on as the career of another new coach dangles perilously from the Titans' cliff.

Temporary Home: Suncorp Stadium

2020 season start: Raiders 24 - 6 Titans, Titans 6 - 46 Eels

Draw: Cowboys (A), Tigers (H), Rabbitohs (A), Dragons (H), Broncos (A), Sharks (H), Warriors (H), Storm (A), Panthers (H), Roosters (A), Cowboys (H), Sharks (A), Raiders (H), Dragons (A), Bulldogs (A), Broncos (H), Sea Eagles (A), Knights (H).