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Light at end of tunnel for NRL strugglers

NZN 5/03/2017 Steve Zemek

After horror 2016 seasons, Parramatta, the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle have shown they're ready to wipe the slate clean this year.

While there's still a lot to work on for last year's bottom three teams, they have shown there are green shoots starting to show.

The Eels capped round one with 20-12 win over Manly at Lottoland with playmaker Corey Norman moving on from his eight-game suspension last year with a starring performance.

In promising signs for the Eels' faithful, coach Brad Arthur said they were a way off hitting their straps and went into the game underdone.

"I was pretty happy that we showed a bit of patience," Arthur said.

"We into this game a little bit underdone; we didn't play a lot of minutes throughout the trials with a lot of our key players.

"Corey Norman and (Clint Gutherson) didn't play together - Normie hasn't played since round 17. We got a lot to work on but to complete at 82 per cent and turn up defensively was pleasing."

The Knights on the same day came within seven minutes of springing a monumental upset over the highly fancied Warriors.

Two tries to winger Nathan Ross in the space of four minutes put them ahead 22-20.

A magical Roger Tuivasa-Sheck kick return, which resulted in the Warriors running 90m and forcing a dropout, and the ensuing Ryan Hoffman try saved the home side's blushes.

But the Knights proved they were a year older, stronger, tougher and closer to breaking their losing streak which has lasted 330 days and 19 games.

While it's still early days, even without senior players Pauli Pauli (hip), Rory Kostjasyn (throat) and Jarrod Mullen (drugs suspension), they showed they're capable of being competitive.

The Roosters look like living up to their pre-season billing as genuine contenders after storming home 32-18 on Saturday night over Gold Coast.

Recruit Luke Keary was a standout, nabbing two tries, and his combination with Mitchell Pearce offered plenty of hope to the tricolours' fans who suffered through a disastrous 2016.

North Queensland opened their season with a thrilling 20-16 golden-point win when a Johnathan Thurston field-goal attempt cannoned off the crossbar and into the in-goal for a freakish Gavin Cooper try.

St George Illawarra produced one of the biggest upsets in recent memory when they flogged pre-season premiership favourites Penrith 42-10.

Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco produced a virtuoso performance to lead his side to a 34-18 thumping of South Sydney.

The Rabbitohs have massive headaches with skipper Greg Inglis tearing his ACL and likely to miss the entire season.

Melbourne held on for a gutsy 12-6 win over Canterbury in atrocious conditions but are sweating on the fitness of forward leader Jesse Bromwich (dislocated thumb).

Cronulla's premiership defence was off to a losing start, going down to a Darius Boyd-led Brisbane 26-18 in the season opener.

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