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3 days ago
The Sydney Roosters and Brisbane Broncos have joined the Canterbury Bulldogs and Canberra Raiders in a scramble at the top of the National Rugby League table with exciting wins yesterday.
However the Bulldogs have a chance to go two points up when they play the final game of the round, against the Rabbitohs at Aussie Stadium today.
Brisbane claimed the competition lead on points differential with their 32-14 defeat of last season's champions, Penrith, at Suncorp Stadium.
Both teams had plenty of players backing up from Friday night's test between the Kiwis and Kangaroos, but few showed the effects of the exertion, with Darren Lockyer directing operations well for Brisbane and Tony Puletua giving his all and scoring a fine try for the Panthers.
There were plenty of errors in a fast-paced game but the Broncos finished stronger, scoring six tries to three with fullback Karmichael Hunt nabbing two of them.
The Roosters are a single point behind the Broncos on points differential after ending St George Illawarra's fine winning form with an 11-8 thriller at Aussie Stadium today.
It was 2-0 to the Roosters at halftime and the scores were tied at 8-8 with 10 minutes to go, but the Roosters got home through a Brett Finch field goal and a penalty by Michael Crocker.
The Dragons had their chance, but a bomb in the last two minutes drifted over the sideline on the full.
Jason Cayless, backing up after Friday's test, injured his dodgy knee in a tackle during the game and early indications were that he would miss the Roosters' next two matches.
Canberra were the first team to join the Bulldogs on 10 points when they beat the Knights 19-18 on Saturday night, with a Brad Frew field goal being the difference between the two teams.
Frew, who kicked the Raiders home against the North Queensland Cowboys a month ago, snapped over the field goal to give his side an 18-12 lead but Kurt Gidley dotted down for a converted try with seven minutes of the match to go.
Knights five-eighth Michael Witt missed an easy field goal with 90 seconds left.
"He and I were team-mates at Parramatta and so I feel for him," said Drew afterwards. "But I am glad he missed."
Two points behind the leading four are five teams ? the Panthers, Dragons, Parramatta Eels, Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers.
The Storm's assistant coach, Peter Sharp, said the 28-6 win over the Cowboys at Olympic Park was due to their strong defensive work.
"We weren't exactly on the money tonight. With the ball we were just a little bit off, but defensively we were very good and that allowed us to grind out a win."
Lock David Kidwell was a strong performer for the winners, following on from his fine performance for the Kiwis.
The Manly Sea Eagles looked in commanding form at Leichhardt Oval today, dominating play and leading 16-8 over Wests Tigers with 25 minutes remaining.
But then Tigers clicked into another gear and roared home, taking the match out 30-22. They scored three tries in the last 15 minutes.
The Eels missed out on a chance to join the leaders last night, when they were beaten by a "golden try" by Cronulla Sharks centre Nigel Vagana.
Vagana took advantage of an overlap caused by an injury to his Kiwis team mate, David Vaealiki, who snapped an Achilles tendon in extra time and whose season looks to be over.
The Eels failed to pull in a kick from Brett Kimmorley with three minutes of normal time remaining and lock Daniel Dumas scored to take the game into extra time and Vagana secured the 18-14 win.
The win moved the Sharks forward to six points, in company with the Knights and Souths, while the Cowboys and Warriors, who had the bye this weekend, have four.
Manly are the wooden spoon contenders with two points.