SYDNEY (AP) St. George Illawarra and the Melbourne Storm remained the class of Australia’s National Rugby League with wins that left them level on 12 points after seven matches.
The Dragons beat North Queensland 28-22 to maintain first place on points difference over the Storm, who claimed an 18-point lead after 18 minutes and then held on for a 30-26 win over the Manly Sea Eagles.
The Dragons and the Storm each have 6-1 records.
Melbourne led 30-16 after a first half featuring nine tries. The Sea Eagles scored the only two tries of the second half through forwards Jake Trbojevic and Brenton Lawrence, but the Storm controlled the final stages.
Veteran Melbourne fullback Billy Slater returned from injury to set up three first-half tries, including two within four minutes for back-rower Felise Kaufusi.
On Sunday, the defending champion Cronulla Sharks won their fifth match of seven to start the season, beating Penrith 28-2 to move into third place in the standings.
Center Joey Leilua scored two tries as Canberra beat the New Zealand Warriors 20-8 and Josh Reynolds scored one try, set up another and saved one as the Canterbury Bulldogs beat South Sydney 24-9.
After the Rabbitohs took a 9-8 lead at halftime, Reynolds ran down Souths halfback Adam Reynolds just inches from the tryline. Minutes later, he set up a Bulldogs try to Josh Jackson and scored his own in the 60th minute to help complete a second-half comeback.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler said Reynolds’ try-saving tackle as the key moment of the match.
”It was a real big turning point,” Hasler said. ”It reflects his determination … we certainly needed it then.”
Luke Keary scored a game-deciding try in the second half as the Sydney Roosters beat Newcastle 24-6 to end a two-game losing streak and win its fifth match of the season.
Brisbane edged Gold Coast 24-22 in a Queensland state derby, the Broncos’ sixth win in a row over the Titans and 11th straight at their home stadium in Brisbane.
Parramatta and the Wests Tigers play Monday to conclude the seventh round.