Rugby: Up and down Down Under

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Rupert Murdoch's southern hemisphere Super League finally made its debut this weekend with fans flocking to two matches but shunning two others.

The Brisbane Broncos were watched by 42,361 fans as they defeated the Auckland Warriors 14-2 on Saturday, while 18,000 turned out to watch the North Queensland Cowboys defeat the Adelaide Rams 24-16 in Townsville.

Yesterday's crowds were far less spectacular. Canterbury's 20-6 defeat of the Hunter Mariners was seen by just 6,579 in the Australian Rugby League stronghold of Newcastle, while 8,398 turned up to watch the Penrith Panthers defeat the Perth Western Reds 30-20.