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NRL crowds slump in Sydney rain

NZN 5/03/2017 Scott Bailey

A miserable Sydney weekend has helped hand the NRL its worst opening-round attendance averages since the Super League war.

Just 100,975 people walked through the gates in round one's eight matches, at an average of 12,622.

The figure is well down on the 14,644 average attendance across each of last year's opening-round matches, and the lowest since 1996, when only 30,198 watched the four games that weekend.

On that occasion, six matches were forfeited as the Super League war threatened to tear the game apart.

However the figures this weekend could largely be blamed on Sydney's big wet.

As the NRL returned games to suburban grounds to begin the year, an average of just 9,702 fans watched at Cronulla, Canterbury, St George Illawarra and Manly's suburban grounds.

A slightly better 16,976 turned out to the weather-friendlier ANZ Stadium on Friday night for South Sydney's home clash with Wests Tigers.

Impacting on the crowds too was the NRL's decision not to host a Brisbane home match in round one.

The Broncos' regular season-opening sell out has been pushed back to next week against North Queensland, while Townsville and the Gold Coast attracted attendances of 17,548 and 13,933 respectively this weekend.

The NRL's best opening round crowd figures since the Super League war came in 2011.

An average of 25,150 people attended each round-one match that year - headlined by a Suncorp Stadium sell out and 38,000 watching a match at Auckland's Eden Park.

ROUND ONE CROWDS:

Cronulla v Brisbane at Southern Cross Group: 11,493

Canterbury v Melbourne at Belmore: 8,712

South Sydney v Wests Tigers at ANZ: 16,976

St George Illawarra v Penrith at UOW Jubilee Oval 7,283

North Queensland v Canberra at 1300SMILES 17,548

Gold Coast v Sydney Roosters at Cbus Super: 13,933

Warriors v Newcastle at Mt Smart: 13,712

Manly v Parramatta at Lottoland: 11,318

Total 100,975

Average 12,622

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