Souths extend lead in National Rugby League
SYDNEY (AP) — The match between the first- and last-place teams in Australia’s National Rugby League had a predictable result Sunday — leading South Sydney scored a 30-10 win over the Parramatta Eels, despite Souths trailing 4-0 early.
The win gave the Rabbitohs a three-point lead over the second-place and defending champions Melbourne, although the Storm could reduce that gap to just one point with a win Monday over the Gold Coast Titans when they conclude an abbreviated 15th round.
With the league preparing for the second State of Origin on Wednesday in Brisbane between New South Wales and Queensland, eight teams had weekend byes — Manly, Cronulla, Newcastle, Penrith, Brisbane, New Zealand Warriors, North Queensland and St. George Illawarra.
On Saturday, acting captain Benji Marshall kicked a match-leveling sideline conversion and added a 73rd-minute field goal to lead the Wests Tigers to a 17-12 win over Canberra.
Sonny Bill Williams returned to his old club as his Sydney Roosters survived a late surge by the Canterbury Bulldogs to score a 20-18 win. Back rower Boyd Cordner and center Shaun Kenny-Dowall each scored two of the Roosters’ four tries.
Former All Black Williams left the Bulldogs to pursue a rugby union career five years ago and returned to the NRL this season to sign a one-year contract with the Roosters.
Down 20-6 with 19 minutes to go, the Bulldogs scored the last 12 points, but ran out of time — converted tries in the last six minutes to Dene Halatau and Krisnan Inu had pulled the losers close.
Listed at halfback, Williams was cleared to play before the game after suffering a gluteal muscle injury on Thursday. He said he felt sore in the last 20 minutes and was struggling.
“I had physio three times yesterday and iced up pretty much all night and then this morning had to take a couple of painkillers,” Williams said.
“If it was any other week and we had a full-strength side, I’d probably just try and get it ready for the next week. But because we were under-strength I knew I had to try and get out there.”