Melbourne wins again, Roosters stay 2nd in NRL

BY AP • July 30, 2017

SYDNEY (AP) Melbourne marked captain Cameron Smith's 350th match in Australia's National Rugby League with a 40-6 win over Manly that kept them atop the table after the weekend's 21st round.

Smith joined Terry Lamb in second place on the all-time list of most NRL appearances and is in line to overtake Darren Lockyer's record of 355 matches by the end of the current season.

He took a starring role in Sunday's match that pushed Melbourne two points clear at the top of the table, leading the Storm's tackle count and providing assists in four of their seven tries.

Earlier, the Roosters rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat North Queensland 22-16 and to return to second place.

Latrell Mitchell scored and converted a try after only three minutes to give the Roosters an early lead. But North Queensland surged ahead with tries to Kane Linnett, Kyle Feldt and Coen Hess to lead 16-6 at halftime.

Winger Daniel Tupou helped the Roosters bridge the gap with a try in the 44th minute and they drew level when Siua Taukeiaho added the conversion of his own try after 57 minutes.

Luke Keary scored the go-ahead try in the 61st minute and Mitchell added a penalty in the 68th minute to create a six-point margin.

The win lifted the Roosters to 32 championship points.

The Roosters were able to win in the absence of key players Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Michael Gordon. Taukeiaho was impressive, running for 200 meters in just 40 minutes, while the Roosters completed 20 of 20 sets after halftime.

''It took a pretty impressive second half from us to beat them,'' Roosters coach Trent Robinson said. ''We had a couple of guys feel the momentum and they decided to do something about it which is really pleasing for this time of the year.''

North Queensland missed a chance to move into fourth place ahead of Brisbane who were beaten 28-14 by sixth-placed Parramatta. Their loss to the Roosters ended a four-match winning streak without playmaker Johnathan Thurston.

''We probably just had to hang on for one more set. Once they got that try we probably didn't respond well enough off the back of that,'' coach Paul Green said.

''There was just that period through the second half where physically they just got on top and we hung in there well but just couldn't quite hang in there long enough.''

Cronulla stayed in third place, two points behind the Roosters, with a 26-12 win over the New Zealand Warriors who dropped back to 12th and are likely out of playoffs contention with five regular season rounds remaining.

Parramatta overcame a poor start to beat Brisbane for their fifth-straight win. The Broncos scored tries through Matt Gillett and Jamie Roberts in the fifth and seventh minutes to take an early 12-0 lead which Parramatta erased by the 17th minute.

Only two points separated the teams between the 17th and 75th minutes before Parramatta surged clear with two tries in the last five minutes, including a second to Kirisome Auva'a.

Cronulla increased their chances of a top-four finish with a comfortable win over the Warriors, sealed with tries on either side of halftime by Fa'amanu Brown, Sosaia Feki.

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