Mel­bourne beat Can­berra to stay top in NRL ta­ble

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Mel­bourne over­came in­juries to stars Cameron Smith and Billy Slater to beat Can­berra 20-14 and to stay atop the Na­tional Rugby League ta­ble with six reg­u­lar sea­son rounds re­main­ing.

Can­berra’s Sia So­li­ola was placed on re­port for a late, swing­ing arm tackle on Slater, who was knocked out and car­ried from the field in the 50th minute. Mel­bourne protested that So­li­ola, who later set up a try for Can­berra, should have been sent off.

“If it’s not a send­ing off then I don’t know what is a send­ing off,” coach Craig Bel­lamy said. “For him to get knocked out like that, it’s pretty se­vere. He’s talk­ing but he’s not feel­ing too good.” In a state­ment late Satur­day, NRL ref­er­ees boss Tony Archer agreed So­li­ola should have been sent off.

“It’s im­por­tant to note that Sia So­li­ola is on re­port and the mat­ter will be ad­dressed by the Match Re­view Com­mit­tee,” Archer said. “But based on a re­view of the tackle, the in­ci­dent did meet the in­di­ca­tors of a send off.”

Slater is thought likely to be side­lined for at least a week but Aus­tralia cap­tain Smith, who left the field with a pec­toral in­jury, might miss more of Mel­bourne’s run-up to the play­offs. It was the first time since 2009 Smith played less than 50 min­utes of a pre­mier­ship match for Mel­bourne.

Smith later said the de­ci­sion to leave the field was pre­cau­tion­ary and the se­ri­ous­ness of the in­jury was yet to be de­ter­mined. “The de­ci­sion was to come off be­cause there’s still a long way to go in the sea­son,” he said.

“It wasn’t worth the risk, to be hon­est.” Cameron Mun­ster kicked a penalty af­ter Slater’s de­par­ture to give Mel­bourne a 14-6 lead be­fore So­li­ola con­trib­uted to a try by Nick Cotric which cut their lead to four points with 15 min­utes re­main­ing.

Dale Fin­u­cane’s sec­ond try re­stored the lead and Can­berra half­back Ai­dan Sezer com­pleted his dou­ble with a try in the fi­nal minute af­ter Mun­ster was sin­binned.

Can­berra’s loss was a ma­jor set­back to its play­offs hopes, drop­ping it back to 10th place, two matches out­side the top eight. The Roost­ers’ 28-4 win over New­cas­tle left it in sec­ond place, two points be­hind Mel­bourne and two points ahead of Bris­bane, who beat the Bull­dogs 42-12. Bris­bane took charge of the match when it scored 18 points in a seven-minute spell span­ning half­time.

Cronulla beat Souths 26-12, and North Queens­land beat the New Zealand Warriors 24-12 to join the Bron­cos in fourth and fifth places re­spec­tively, sep­a­rated by points dif­fer­en­tial.

Sixth-placed Manly has a chance to move up when it plays St. Ge­orge Illawarra on Sun­day, while St. Ge­orge could move up from eighth place. Par­ra­matta, two points be­hind Manly in seventh place, plays Wests.


NAS­SAU: The Aus­tralia girls team cel­e­brate vic­tory in the Girl’s Rugby 7’s Gold medal Fi­nal on day 4 of the 2017 Youth Com­mon­wealth Games at QE Sports Cen­tre on Fri­day in Nas­sau, Ba­hamas.

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