Souths overcome controversy to beat Newcastle in NRL
SYDNEY (AP) — South Sydney overcame a week marred by controversy to beat Newcastle 46-20 in an elimination final Sunday to keep their grand final hopes alive in Australia’s National Rugby League.
Both the club and assistant coach and former England rugby international Sam Burgess are the subject of separate police and NRL investigations into drug, misconduct and domestic violence allegations. South will now face Parramatta in one of next weekend’s league semifinals.
Souths trailed Newcastle 14-0 early in Sunday’s match before scoring 46 unanswered points.
Meanwhile, the Penrith Panthers are one win away from their first National Rugby League grand final in 17 years after three first-half tries from Nathan Cleary gave them a 29-28 win over the two-time defending champion Sydney Roosters.
Cleary scored 21 points, including a clutch 78th-minute field goal that proved the difference. The win advances the Panthers, who finished in first place during the regular season, to a semifinal in two weeks.
Under the NRL’s second-chance playoff format for the top four teams, the fourth-place Roosters will play the Canberra Raiders in a 2019 grand final rematch in the second round. The Raiders beat the Cronulla Sharks 32-20 in its elimination final on Saturday.
Second-place Melbourne overcame an early 12-0 deficit to also advance directly to the semifinals with a 36-24 win over the third-place Parramatta Eels.
The grand final, delayed like most other professional sports around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled for Oct. 25 at Sydney’s Olympic stadium. Due to continuing crowd restrictions, the 82,000-seat stadium will be limited to 40,000 spectators under current plans.
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