NRL Round 4 Preview: Rugby League back for the second weekend since COVID-19 break
The Eels celebrate in their game against the Broncos at the weekend | (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Australia's top flight of Rugby League returns on Thursday for its second week since it was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the three rounds which have been played so far, the Parramatta Eels currently top the league with six points, level with the Canberra Raiders although they have a much better points difference.

Brisbane Broncos vs Sydney Roosters

Ninth and tenth play each other in the first match of round four, a 10:50BST kickoff for viewers in the UK.

It is the Brisbane Broncos who have had the better form of the two so far this season, currently on four points with two games won and one lost.

The current world champions, the Sydney Roosters, picked up their first win of the season last weekend against city rivals Sydney Rabbitohs, a 28-12 victory. They only have two points so far and will look to improve on that against the Broncos.

Penrith Panthers vs NZ Warriors

The Panthers, who currently sit fourth in the table, will look to extend their unbeaten record to four games when they face the Warriors at 9:00BST on Friday. 

At the weekend, the Panthers played out an extremely entertaining 14-14 draw at home to the Newcastle Knights, dropping a 14-point lead and not able to score a golden point in extra time.

The Warriors impressed in a comfortable home victory against St George Dragons last Saturday. Keeping a 100% completion rate in the first 44 sets, they easily picked up both points in an 18-0 victory in their first game after moving over to Australia to play this season behind closed doors.

Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Rabbitohs

This weekend, both sides will be looking to improve from their underwhelming performances last weekend and pick up their first points since the NRL returned.

The Storm have had the better season of the two in the first three rounds, picking up four points compared to the Rabbitohs' two.

Hosting a Canberra Raiders side who have impressed so far this season last Saturday, the Storm were on the wrong end of a 22-6 defeat against an opposition from the capital who were spearheaded by an incredible performance from ex-Wigan Warriors halfback George Williams

The Rabbitohs lost against City rivals Sydney Roosters in last weekend's tie. Despite tries from Tom Burgess and Cameron Murray which were both converted successfully, it was no match for the opposition's five. They have only won a single game in the first three rounds and will aim to pick up a second on Friday at 10:55

Parramatta Eels vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

With wins in each of their first three games, the Eels will look to extend that streak to four matches when they host Manly Warringah in Saturday's first match.

Opening the NRL to millions of viewers around the globe in the first match of the restart, the Eels ran out 34-4 victors away to Brisbane Broncos, scoring six tries in the process and converting five. Very few teams come close to their 88 points scored so far and they will be difficult for any team to face

However, they are pitted against a Sea Eagles side who some into this weekend's match after a very comfortable 32-6 win against the Canberra Bulldogs in which they managed an incredible seven tries. With four points so far, they will hope to extend that to six at the weekend although having a points difference of only 13 signals that it may be difficult for them against the table-toppers.

North Queensland Cowboys vs Cronulla Sharks

The Cowboys will likely be many people's favourites for Saturday's match, having had a much better start to the season than the Sharks.

The home side come into the match after a comfortable 36-6 victory against the Gold Coast Titans and having picked up four points so far.

Cronulla's fortunes, however, have not been as good and they have failed to register a single point in the first three rounds. Leading at the going into the break weekend against Wests Tigers, they could not keep up the form in the second half and let three tries go unanswered, losing 28-16 at the end of the game.

The Sharks will look to pick up their first points of the season at the weekend, whilst the Cowboys will aim to extend their positive form displayed last weekend.

Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights

Last year's runners-up, the Canberra Raiders, have played well so far this season, winning in each of their three matches and will look to carry that on against Newcastle on Sunday.

They were incredibly impressive last weekend in their victory at home to the Melbourne Storm with George Williams of the Raiders shining as the main man throughout the game.

The Knights, however, are also unbeaten having won two matches and drawn another.

They picked up their draw last weekend in a hotly-contested match against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, coming from behind to send the game to golden point extra time, although they were not able to score a drop goal to get the win.

The game between the two at 7:05BST is the standout match of round four and should be a great watch.

Gold Coast Titans vs Wests Tigers

The bottom-placed Titans host the Tigers on Sunday, hoping to turn around their weak run of form so far in which they have not picked up a single point. 

The Titans' points difference is currently a disastrous -88, a figure that is 48 lower than the next worst team in the division. They struggled against the Cowboys last weekend, letting their opposition score six tries to the Titans' one.

It is no surprise then that the Tigers are the obvious favourites out of the two, coming from behind last weekend to finish up 28-16 victors away from home to the Cronulla Sharks.

The Tigers have won two of their games so far, including last weekend, and will look to improve on that when they face the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday at 9:30BST.

Canterbury Bulldogs vs St George Dragons

At least one of the two sides in this weekend's final game are guaranteed to pick up their first points after round four.

Both teams have lost all three games since the 2020 NRL season started and have points differences of over -30.

Neither impressed in their games last weekend, both comfortable victories for NZ Warriors and Manly Sea Eagles respectively.

A 7:05 kickoff on Monday, it could be a tight game between two teams who have left much to be desired in this year's campaign.

VAVEL Logo