Melbourne, Souths move up in National Rugby League
SYDNEY (AP) — Souths and Melbourne set up a top of the table clash next week in Australia’s National Rugby League with contrasting wins in the weekend’s 20th round.
Melbourne beat Canberra 44-10 to take first place narrowly on points difference from Souths who beat Parramatta 26-20 to join the Storm on 30 championship points.
The Roosters then continued their strong late-season run, beating St. George 36-18 to leap into third place while pushing the Dragons back to fourth.
Latrell Mitchell scored three tries and Man of the Match James Tedesco scored two as the Roosters posted their ninth win from their last 11 games to consolidate a top-four place, widening their lead on points differential over St. George to 28 points.
The Dragons are two points clear of fifth-placed Penrith, who beat Manly 28-24. Penrith, Cronulla and Brisbane all have 26 points while the New Zealand Warriors round out the top eight with 24 points, four ahead of ninth-placed Wests.
But the Warriors missed out on a chance to cement their place inside the top-eight when they lost 36-12 to the Titans, who are well out of the playoff race. The Warriors led 12-8 at halftime against a team they have beaten 14 times in their last 15 meetings but faltered and conceded five second-half tries.
“I don’t like using the word, but I thought it was pretty soft in the second half,” Warriors coach Steve Kearney said. “There was a fair bit on the line today and to produce a second half of that standard makes it very disappointing.”
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy singled out young five-eighths Cameron Munster for praise after his team’s convincing win over Canberra.
“I thought he played tremendously well again,” Bellamy said. “He’s taken up that slack that I suppose we lost a little bit with Cooper Cronk leaving.”
In contrast, Souths coach Anthony Seibold was far from impressed with the team’s win over Parramatta a week ahead of their clash with Melbourne. Souths lost 64-6 to the Storm in Melbourne last year.
“There’s no bigger test than the premiers and the Storm are on top of the table at the moment,” Siebold said. “It’s probably a test we need to see where we’re at.”