Melbourne beats North Queensland in NRL playoffs

SYDNEY (AP) — Captain Cameron Smith kicked a late penalty goal to clinch the Melbourne Storm's 16-10 win over the defending champion North Queensland Cowboys in the first round of the National Rugby League playoffs.

The win gave the Storm a second-round bye and sent the Cowboys into a match next week against fellow Queensland state side Brisbane.

Earlier Saturday, a 75th-minute penalty goal from James Maloney gave Cronulla a 16-14 comeback win over Canberra, advancing the Sharks to the semifinals and also a bye in the second round.

On Friday, Brisbane advanced to the second round with a 44-28 win over Gold Coast, eliminating the Titans.

Canterbury plays Penrith in another elimination match on Sunday, with the winner to play Canberra in the second round.

The grand final in Sydney is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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