The NRL season hadn’t even kicked off before fans took to social media with the new campaign’s first gripe.
Expectations were high as the Melbourne Storm hosted the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night to kick off the 2019 season.
The Storm triumphed 22-12 in a thrilling match to extend coach Craig Bellamy’s extraordinary record of having never lost a round one NRL match.
However, it was a scheduling issue that became the talk of social media minutes before play started.
The match was advertised as having a 7:50pm (AEDT) kick-off time, with supporters clearly over-eager to see some action.
With no players in sight, however, the frustrations of fans quickly spread on social media as the clock approached eight o’clock.
— Stephen Turner (@apples2967) March 14, 2019
— Booze Hound (@Booze__Hound) March 14, 2019
First game of the season and #NRL is already running over 10 minutes later than it's scheduled start..
— Marko (@AusLoafer) March 14, 2019
— matt woodward (@matwoody) March 14, 2019
Just checking, I’m not screwing the time up am I? It IS 7:58pm right?#NRLStormBroncos
— Mr_Brown (@Mr_Brown__) March 14, 2019
Ideally people just want to know what time kickoff is. If it's 8:05pm and not 7:50pm, just publish that.#NRLStormBroncos
— LeagueUnlimited 🏉 Rugby League News (@LeagueUnlimited) March 14, 2019
— NRL (@NRL) March 14, 2019
Jahrome Hughes had the honour of scoring the first try of the season – Billy Slater’s replacement at fullback crashing over in the corner.
Curtis Scott soon doubled the home side’s advantage after pouncing on a loose ball and racing almost the length of the field to score.
Kenny Bromwich scored Melbourne’s third early in the second half, with skipper Cameron Smith adding the extras for a 16-0 lead.
The Broncos finally hit back just before the hour mark as winger Corey Oates beat a couple of Storm defenders to cross near the corner.
Incredibly, Oates then broke through the Melbourne defence again moments later to grab his second try of the night to make it 16-12.
Just as the Broncos looked to be coming home with a wet sail, Jesse Bromwich scored for the Storm to help restore the home side’s 10-point buffer.
Slater himself was honoured before kick-off, with the unveiling of the stand that now bears his name at AAMI Park.
The legendary fullback’s wife and kids were alongside him for the momentous occasion, in a touching pre-game moment.
The Billy Slater Stand. 👏
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) March 14, 2019