NRL 2020: Sydney Roosters, North Queensland Cowboys secure victories in comeback matches

The Sydney Roosters kickstarted their 2020 NRL campaign with a 28-12 win over arch-rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on Friday night. 

Earlier, the North Queensland Cowboys encountered little trouble as they dismantled the struggling Gold Coast Titans in a convincing 36-6 win in Townsville.

Having lost their first two games of the season before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus, the two-time defending champion Roosters were determined to get off the mark.

And the Tri-colours proved they'll be title contenders once again, on the back of  an influential performance by reigning Dally M medallist James Tedesco. 

Fullback Tedesco finished the night with 14 tackle busts, 314 run metres and a try.

The Roosters led 12-6 at the break thanks to tries from Daniel Tupou and Kyle Flanagan, while Cameron Murray scored Souths' only try. 

Tedesco burst into life in the second half as he beat three defenders to score the Roosters' third try, before captain Boyd Cordner crashed over from close range moments later.

Tom Burgess then hit back for Souths with 20 minutes remaining to give his side some hope, but Jake Friend secured victory for his side with a try in the closing stages. 

Roosters coach Trent Robinson feels his side is starting to hit their strides. 

"I thought defensively we were good and handled [the game]. I didn't feel like we were under threat for most of that game," Robinson said.

"Twelve points hurts, but I thought a solid game to start the season. People can talk about what's going to happen with the new rules but in the end your team and the attitude will decide what it looks like.

"I felt like we were strong and the attitude we gave to whatever happened was the Roosters defence.

"I thought we nailed our combinations in attack, they were really good. I thought we moved the ball well, carried well and supported well. There were some good things but room for improvement as well at the end of sets."

Meanwhile, the Titans were no match for the Cowboys, who secured their first win at the newly-created  Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Missing captain Michael Morgan, halves Scott Drinkwater and Jake Clifford led the way, while Jason Taumalolo dominated the middle of the field. 

Wing Ben Hampton and hooker Reece Robson both scored braces for the Cowboys, as the Titans suffered their 14th straight defeat dating back to 2019. 

Leading 14-6 at the break, with tries to Hampton and Justin O'Neill while Brian Kelly scored the Titans' only try. 

Jason Taumalolo.
Jason Taumalolo. Photo credit: Getty

The floodgates opened in the second half as Robson burrowed over from dummy half with two tries in four minutes, before Hampton and Kyle Felt put the icing on the cake. 

"Having such a big break you are not sure how the players are going to get back into the groove [after the coronavirus shutdown] so to win like that was pleasing," Cowboys coach Paul Green said.

"We created some nice opportunities and a lot of it came through them [(halves] - there were some good signs there.

"They balanced each other out really well. When we had an opportunity the ball went to the right guy."

The win was the Cowboys' second of the season, lifting them inside the NRL's top four. 

NRL 2020: Sydney Roosters, North Queensland Cowboys secure victories in comeback matches