Melbourne on top of NRL as Roosters falter

August 19, 2018

SYDNEY (AP) — Canberra has dented the Sydney Roosters’ hopes of winning the minor premiership in Australia’s National Rugby League by holding on for a 14-12 win in an influential match on Sunday.

A win would have lifted the Roosters a match clear atop the premiership ladder after 23 of 25 regular season rounds, putting them in a strong position to claim first place ahead of the playoffs.

Instead, Canberra built a 12-0 lead, then edged ahead again with a Sam Williams penalty after the Roosters tied the score in the 61st minute. Williams kicked four penalties and the conversion of Jordan Rapana’s ninth-minute try to ensure Canberra didn’t concede the lead at any stage of the match.

The Roosters scored two tries to one through Boyd Cordner and Victor Radley but couldn’t overtake the Raiders, remaining without a win in Canberra since 2010.

The result means the Roosters stay in a three-way contest for first place with Melbourne and Souths. Those teams are locked together on 32 points but Melbourne has moved back into first place on points differential ahead of the Roosters and Souths.

Fourth-placed St. George, fifth-placed Pentrith and sixth-placed Cronulla all have 30 points in an increasingly tight race for top four and top eight places.

Seventh-placed Brisbane and the eighth-placed New Zealand Warriors are next on 28 points, two games clear of ninth-placed Wests. The Warriors had a chance on Sunday to seal their first playoffs spot in seven years but went down 27-26 to the Bulldogs.

Melbourne beat Parramatta 20-4 and Souths lost 38-18 to Brisbane in the first match of the round.

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