(Image: AAP/Michael Dodge)

AFL v NRL, network v network. A meeting of the giants -- Richmond v the Wobbles. In Brisbane, the Broncos (not much liked south of the border) against the Manly Sea Eagles (not much liked anywhere). Like Collingwood, Brisbane led early. Unlike Richmond, Manly managed to come back for the win. The NRL produced a thrilling win; the AFL a "thrilling" draw, if there is such a thing. 

In ratings, though, a clear winner -- the AFL’s return saw 1.27 million viewers for the game. The NRL game could only manage 618,000 on Nine and 259,000 on Foxtel. Seven’s total share 36.6%, Nine 22.6% -- a real hiding.

The one thing the two games shared was the canned crowd noise, which you become used to. The question is: will audience numbers continue to slump for the NRL next weekend and beyond as the season proper settles in?