St. George Illawarra stay unbeaten in NRL

SYDNEY (AP) St. George Illawarra extended its winning start to the National Rugby League season to six games with a 40-20 win over Cronulla while the New Zealand Warriors‘ unbeaten run ended at five games when they lost 27-18 to Brisbane.

The Dragons became the first team since Melbourne in 2013 to start a season with six-straight wins. Cronulla’s fourth loss in six matches was made more costly by serious injuries to Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen, both of whom face knee scans, and more minor problems for Wade Cunningham and Luke Lewis.

St. George led 28-10 and had to fend off a mid-match rally by Cronulla, who closed to 28-20. The Dragons then pulled away to a six tries to four win, including eight goals to England star Gareth Widdop.

”We were a little off to start the game in terms of our intent in our defense,” St. George coach Paul McGregor said. ”But when we needed to find it we did.

”And some individual brilliance probably got us over the line tonight, more than team talent.”

The Warriors’ winning start to the season bought back many fans who had abandoned the club after years of under-performance. But they were unable to sustain that winning run, losing to a more determined Brisbane.

”I have to give credit to Brisbane,” Warriors coach Steve Kearney said. ”They came here with a real commitment and intent about them right from the outset and we didn’t match that.”

Melbourne bounced back from two consecutive losses to beat Newcastle 40-14, scoring seven tries. Canberra beat Parramatta 18-2 to leave the Eels winless after six games while the Bulldogds beat North Queensland 27-10, inflicting a fifth loss in six games on last year’s finalists.