Sharks win 15th NRL match in a row to move back into 1st
The first-place Cronulla Sharks rolled to their 15th consecutive victory, beating the last-place Newcastle Knights 36-4 to move two points ahead of the Melbourne Storm in their back-and-forth tussle for top spot in the National Rugby League.
The Storm had edged ahead of the Sharks with a 26-10 win Saturday over the Sydney Roosters, drawing them level on competition points with the Sharks but ahead on points differential.
But the Sharks, who beat Newcastle 62-0 in May, were also never threatened in the reprise, despite leading just 10-0 at halftime. Ben Barba scored two Cronulla tries and set up two others.
In the other match Sunday, the Wests Tigers moved to within two points of a top-eight playoff spot with a 25-12 win over the St. George Illawarra Dragons.
On Saturday, Melbourne stayed close to the Sharks, scoring two late tries through Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor.
Canberra moved into the NRL's top four for the first time in more than a decade with a 26-22 extra-time win over the New Zealand Warriors.
The Raiders led 22-4 with 10 minutes to go but let in three late tries. Skipper Jarrod Croker scored the match-winning try less than 90 seconds into extra time to seal their fourth consecutive win.
The Raiders have not been placed so high in the standings with six matches remaining since 2003.
North Queensland center Antonio Winterstein scored three tries as the defending champions beat the Canterbury Bulldogs 36-0. Star halfback Johnathan Thurston helped pace the third-place Cowboys to a 20-0 lead before leaving the field early in the second half with a hamstring injury.
"It's not too bad — it is just more of a precaution," Thurston said. "I should be right."
Another Queensland state team, the Brisbane Broncos, didn't fare as well, losing 31-12 to Penrith; the Broncos' sixth loss in eight games to harm their chances of finishing in the top four. The Broncos are in sixth place, 12 points behind the Sharks.
On Monday, South Sydney plays Manly to conclude the 20th of 26 regular-season rounds.