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It's been a year full of surprises but the Rabbitohs' round 20 thrashing of the Roosters took the cake when it came to the biggest shocks of the NRL season.

That's the view of the fans who voted for South Sydney's stunning 60-8 routing of the reigning premiers as most surprising result of the season, with 50% of votes going the Bunnies' way.

Second place went to Queensland's shock win in State of Origin I in Adelaide, a result that set up their 2-1 series victory over a highly-rated Blues side.

The third most surprising result involved the Rabbitohs again, this time a shock loss to the lowly ranked Bulldogs in round 19 – just a week before they defeated the Roosters. took a look back at the season and settled on 10 such games and gave fans a chance to choose their favourite.

Not all the listed games were huge upsets. They also featured extremely lopsided scorelines, triumphs over in-match adversity, depleted team lists and the different circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic.

What was the most surprising match of 2020?

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Top 10: Surprising results (in calendar order)

Round 2 - Manly bt Roosters 9-8

After the Roosters suffered a loss to Penrith in round one, most were expecting the back-to-back premiers to make a statement in week two. There was a statement made at Leichhardt Oval that day, but it was my Des Hasler's men. The manner in which Manly ground out a 9-8 win over Trent Robinson's team was impressive. Sadly for the Sea Eagles, that was one of few highlights in 2020.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Sea Eagles

Round 3 - Warriors bt Dragons 18-0

After the players agreed to uproot their lives and go through quarantine in Tamworth before finding a new home on NSW's Central Coast, the Warriors rallied to the cause and beat the Dragons. Elisea Katoa and Kodi Nikorima were among the try-scorers. Heading into this match there were fears over how competitive the Warriors would be after everything they'd been through. This match allayed many of those doubts.

Match Highlights: Warriors v Dragons

Round 4 - Roosters bt Broncos 59-0

The result wasn't a surprise, but everything else about this match was a shock. Brisbane - who had won both their matches before the COVID-19 shutdown - were humbled. The Roosters scored five tries in each half as the Broncos were outrun by 1200m and missed 44 tackles. The once-mighty Brisbane won just once in 18 matches after the resumption of the season.

Match Highlights: Broncos v Roosters

Round 6 - Manly bt Raiders 14-6

In what coach Des Hasler described as "one of the best wins I've seen in a maroon and white jersey", Manly lost Dylan Walker and Brad Parker inside the first 10 minutes and then Tom Trbojevic to a serious hamstring injury 12 minutes after the break. With just one interchange player for the last 28 minutes, Manly scrapped their way to a stirring win.

Match Highlights: Raiders v Sea Eagles

Round 10 - Raiders bt Roosters 24-20

Coming the week after they lost inspirational skipper Josh Hodgson to a season-ending knee injury and with fellow English John Bateman also missing, few gave the Raiders much of a chance. What followed was a great performance from Josh Papalii which inspired his side to a shock win. The Roosters headed into the match having won six-of-seven since the re-start from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Raiders

Round 19 - Bulldogs bt Rabbitohs 26-16

After averaging 33.4 points per match across five games leading into this clash with the bottom-placed Bulldogs, most were expecting a lopsided scoreline in favour of Wayne Bennett's men. What followed was Canterbury's best performance of the year, one which got them off the bottom of the laddder. Canterbury made just four errors during the 80 minutes.

Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs

Round 20 - Titans bt Knights 36-6

Beating the Titans and securing a home final was the task facing the Knights in round 20. What followed was a loss that left many, including coach Adam O'Brien, scratching their heads. This was the fifth win on the trot for Gold Coast who stormed home to finish just two points out of the top eight. 

Match Highlights: Titans v Knights

Round 20 - Rabbitohs bt Roosters 60-8

Alex Johnston scored five tries (including three within five minutes) as the back-to-back premiers suffered a humiliating loss to their great rivals. The Roosters scored in the third minute, but after that ANZ Stadium turned into a factory of sadness for the Tricolours. In hindsight, the performance was the writing on the wall for the Roosters as they lost both finals matches to see their dreams of a three-peat go up in smoke.

Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Roosters

Men's Origin - Game I

In one of the biggest upsets in Origin history, returning coach Wayne Bennett master-minded an upset of epic proportions. Kurt Capewell, AJ Brimson and Tino F'asuamaleaui starred on debut while Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans conspired to breathe life into the series. 

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Women's Origin

Queensland had lost the first two women's Origin matches and the two previous interstate fixtures. Enter Tarryn Aiken, Tamika Upton and Ali Brigginshaw. Along with a strong forward pack, that trio provided the final touches. In the first Origin match in Queensland, Jason Hetherington's team survived a late scare to send Steph Hancock off a winner.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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