In a league where all eyes are on the NRL grand final, the first half of the season’s first week was a very different affair.
The week started with an epic showdown between the premiers of the two codes in a battle for supremacy, and the result was something that many were hoping would be a sign of things to come for the game.
As the weekend progressed, the NRL was hit by a number of controversies, some more damaging than others.
But what was also notable was how the game was going through a transformation in its identity as the season wore on.
After years of being dominated by a single title-winning team, the game began to become more defined by the strength of its rivals.
With the rise of the Raiders, the Storm and Bulldogs, and a raft of new franchises in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the focus shifted from just one title to four.
A week into the season, the games had been played, the teams were in the stands, and it was time to crown the best of 2017.
As always, we look back on the week and pick out the best and worse.
The Raiders, led by rookie Josh Dugan, were the hottest favourites for the title, but it was a different story for the rest of the competition.
Injuries and suspensions meant the Raiders missed out on the grand final in 2018 and 2019, but they were still the dominant team in 2017, and were still in the top four when the season started.
Their record this year is the worst of any NRL team in a decade.
Despite missing out on a grand final since the 2015 season, they still managed to beat the Storm in their final game, and beat the Bulldogs in their grand final.
However, their lack of competition made it a difficult task to get to the top of the table.
They were outclassed by the Storm at the start of the year, the Bulldogs by the Raiders in the second round, and also beaten by the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium in round 10.
Despite their struggles, the Raiders still managed three wins from their opening two matches, and they were in position to finish ahead of the Storm for the first time since 2017.
This week, the Cowboys were also struggling.
They had the best record of any team at the opening weekend, and their best results came against the Titans and the Rabbitohs.
But their win over the Bulldogs was a result of a number on their side, and in their favour.
The Rabbitoh’s opening match was against the Bulldogs and the Cowboys’ next game was against Canberra.
They lost both matches, but the win over Canberra was the first of three straight to end their season.
The best teams in the competition were in control in both games, and there was little doubt about who would be crowned champion.
The Storm were also at a standstill, but their start to the season had already been the best in the history of the game, as they were winning their opening match, and then their grand finals.
The NRL’s best record at the first weekend of the grand finals was the lowest of any competition this year, but by the end of the month they were the best team in the world.
In a week where the teams had been playing each other for months, the grand finalists of the inaugural year were able to step up to the plate and show why the NRL is one of the most popular sports in Australia.
The first half was a great start for the Cowboys, as the first match against the Warriors was their best in six years, and was their biggest victory in the grand opening.
In the second match, they beat the Broncos in their first home game, then beat the Raiders and the Raiders again.
They also won their first two games against the Roosters and Titans, and took on the Bulldogs for the second time.
They were in a very good position, with the Cowboys having won three of their first five matches and the Warriors losing their first three matches.
But the Cowboys started to look more like a regular premiership team, and started to show their quality at the top end of their game.
Their first win over a top four team came against a struggling Roosting outfit, and that win came against one of their most experienced opponents, the Titans.
The Cowboys won their next three games, the next two against the Cowboys and the Titans, then against the Sharks and Titans.
The next week they beat Canberra, and again against the Raiders.
In round nine, the Broncos were able take the lead, but were unable to make up ground, as their best win came at the hands of the Titans in round 13.
The next week, they won against the Storm, and against the Canberra Raiders again in round 15.
They looked to have the edge going into the finals, but fell short again in the final game.
The biggest disappointment for the Storm was losing the grandfinal against the Broncos, and finishing