Manly, Bulldogs stay lead way in NRL
Manly and the Bulldogs scored contrasting wins in the weekend's 18th-round to continue their head-to-head contest at the top of Australia's National Rugby League.
While Manly trounced Wests 40-8 for their ninth-straight win at home, the Bulldogs eked out a 6-4 win over Melbourne, rallying after trailing 4-0 at halftime.
The wins kept the teams locked together atop the table with 26 points, though Manly leads with a superior points differential. Penrith have a chance to move into a three way tie at the top if they can beat Brisbane tomorrow.
The New Zealand Warriors moved up to sixth place with a 48-0 win over Parramatta - their largest win in eight years - while Melbourne dropped back to eighth after their costly loss to the Bulldogs.
Melbourne backrower Kevin Proctor scored a 16th-minute try for the only points of the first half before the Bulldogs claimed the lead with an early second half try to Sam Kasiano, converted by Trent Hodgkinson.
Cameron Smith had a chance to tie the scores with a penalty two minutes from fulltime but his kick, from close to the sideline, was off target.
Melbourne now face a struggle to reach the semifinals, having to play five of their last eight games away from home.
''We just want to get consistency in our performances and in our effort and if we do that we'll go well,'' Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said.
''We played well against the Bulldogs but sometimes when you play well you don't get the two points.''
Kieran Foran scored two tries and set up two others as Manly overwhelmed Wests to move atop the table.
Manly led 22-0 after a clinical first half which included Foran's double and closed out the match with second half tries to Clinto Gutherson, Daly Cherry-Evans and Brent Stewart. Coach Geoff Toovey said Manly's performance was a significant step up on last weekend's loss to the Bulldogs.
''We were a lot more committed and a lot more composed,'' he said. ''Our execution was a lot better than it has been in previous weeks. When we made breaks we were able to take our opportunities.''
The Warriors scored 36 unanswered points in the first half, completing 91 perc ent of their sets as they overwhelmed Parramatta at Auckland's Mt. Smart Stadium. Sam Tomkins ran for more than 100 metres, made three line breaks and scored two tries to lead the rout.
But the Warriors took pride in their defensive performance after conceding 21 points per match in their previous games this season.