Canberra Raiders returned to NRL action with a commanding 22-6 win over Melbourne Storm to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Last year's Grand Final losers got the better of the 2019 minor premiers, earning a third straight victory at the Storm's home ground.

George Williams pulled the strings in assisting tries for Nick Cotric and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, with the Raiders at full throttle following the two-month coronavirus-enforced hiatus. 

Jordan Rapana also got in on the act, with Joseph Tapine's last-gasp try the only score of the second half in Melbourne.

New Zealand Warriors set the bar high in an 18-0 defeat of St George-Illawarra Dragons.

The Warriors completed their first 44 sets in a stunning display, with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Eliesa Katoa and Kodi Nikorima touching down at Central Coast Stadium.

It is now three defeats from three for the Dragons, while this was a first win for the Warriors.

Cronulla Sharks are also winless from their opening three games, with Wests Tigers condemning them to a 28-16 loss.

Despite trailing 16-10 at the break, the Tigers ran in 18 unanswered points after the interval.

James Tedesco scored a brilliant solo try as Sydney Roosters beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 28-12, while North Queensland Cowboys also resumed the NRL season with a derby win on Friday.

The Roosters lost their first two games before the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus in March, but they were too good for their city rivals behind closed doors at Bankwest Stadium.

Daniel Tupou dotted down after rising to take a kick from Luke Keary just three minutes in and Kyle Flanagan went under the posts to round off a slick move as the Roosters turned on the style.

Cameron Murray got the Rabbitohs on the board with a try five minutes before the break, but Tedesco showed great power and pace to go on his own for a score just after the interval.

Boyd Cordner crashed over to give the two-time defending champions further breathing space before Tom Burgess forced his way over to give the Bunnies hope on the hour mark.

Trent Robinson's side had the final say, though, Jake Friend racing onto his own kick to finish and Flanagan converting to take his tally to 12 points in a second loss of the season for Souths.

It does not appear the break did Gold Coast Titans any good as they were thrashed 36-6 by the rampant Cowboys.

The Titans have now lost 14 in a row after they were blown away at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, the lively Valentine Holmes laying on three of six tries.

Reece Robson and Ben Hampton scored doubles in a second victory out of three for North Queensland.

Parramatta Eels made it three wins from three by thrashing the previously undefeated Brisbane Broncos 34-6 as the NRL season resumed on Thursday.

The competition had been on a two-month hiatus, enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, but Brad Arthur's team picked up where they left off to maintain their 100 per cent start behind closed doors at Suncorp Stadium.

Marata Niukore and Maika Sivo went over in the first half while Clinton Gutherson, Michael Jennings, Shaun Lane and Waqa Blake all touched down in the second half, with Brodie Croft scoring the Broncos' only try.

It took only three minutes for the Eels to get on the board, Niukore side-stepping Anthony Milford en route to going over.

Croft, who twice failed pre-match temperature checks before eventually passing one that allowed him to play, responded by going over after fooling Parramatta with a dummy pass, but that was as good as it got for Brisbane, who were behind at the break thanks to Sivo's fine score in the corner.

Gutherson got in on the act shortly after the restart and Jennings and Lane went over in quick succession late on to put the game beyond the Broncos' reach.

Blake wrapped up the rout by marking his 100th NRL appearance with a try and Mitchell Moses was on target with five of his six conversions on a good night for the Eels.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian "can't see" crowds returning to the NRL as soon as July 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys said recently he was hoping capped crowds could be back in stadiums in just over a month's time.

The NRL will restart its season on Thursday, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

But while Berejiklian is happy to see the NRL resume, she doubts crowds will be back as early as July 1.

"I can't see that happening on that date," she told a news conference on Thursday.

Berejiklian added: "A lot of people are looking forward to that [the season restarting] and I'm glad there's some normality coming back to New South Wales."

Australia has successfully flattened the coronavirus curve, having last recorded at least 50 daily cases on April 17.

V'landys, whose relentless approach has drawn some criticism, believes crowds should have been allowed into the Brisbane Broncos' clash with the Parramatta Eels on Thursday.

"There should be [crowds]," he told 2GB.

"I see no reason why there can't be and you've got to base it on data, not emotional, scaremongering cliches. That's what they do.

"They bring up these cliches that put fear into people, but yet they've got nothing to back them up, they've got no data to show.

"The infection rate is less than half a per cent, how low do we need to get it?"

Cronulla Sharks might not have released Josh Morris had they been informed of Bronson Xerri's positive drugs test closer to the time it occurred, says chief executive Dino Mezzatesta.

Centre Xerri, 19, was provisionally suspended by the NRL on Tuesday after returning a positive A-sample for exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol, having been tested by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) in November last year.

Mezzatesta stated the club had received no notification during the intervening six months and has expressed his concerns to Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys.

The suspension came just four days before the Sharks resume their NRL campaign against Wests Tigers after the stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Mezzatesta hopes the remainder of the process does not drag out over a similar time frame.

He also indicated the Sharks might not have released Morris from the final year of his contract to join Sydney Roosters had they been aware of the situation regarding Xerri.

Asked about the length of time between the test and Cronulla being informed, Mezzatesta said: "That's a matter really for the NRL to take up with ASADA, but it does seem like a long process.

"Our hope is that the process isn't anywhere near as long to conclude. It could be more damaging not only for the individual and club, but the code itself. We should be celebrating the return to the game and that's what we should be focusing and concentrating on.

"That's why we'd hope there's an expedient outcome for all concerned.

"It's an interesting question [about Morris] and that's one of the reasons why we're quite disappointed in the length of time that it's taken to notify, not only the NRL, but the club. Things may have been completely different for us.

"So absolutely, had we been notified early, we may have well taken things very differently in our approach to our playing roster."

Mezzatesta insisted there is no problem with the culture of the Sharks, who saw 12 players from their 2011 squad accept one-year suspensions for "unknowingly and unwittingly" taking prohibited substances.

"There's no issue here at the club. Although there's a history, we're very confident with the protocols we have in place, with the systems we have in place," he said.

"It's unfortunate that this matter has arisen for a young individual associated with our club. Our priority now is his welfare and the support of that young individual. We certainly have no concerns about our club at all, not at this time and certainly not in the future.

"I've spoken to Bronson and spoken to his family. He's obviously very shaken, he's got a long road ahead. He needs to take some advice but he's fully aware that he has our full support."

Cronulla Sharks centre Bronson Xerri said he was "devastated" after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Xerri, 19, was provisionally suspended by the NRL on Tuesday after returning a positive A-sample for exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol, having been tested by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) in November last year.

The teenager said he was shattered by his ban just days out from the Sharks resuming their season against Wests Tigers on Saturday.

"I'm devastated but I'm bound by the system so there is not much more I can say at this stage," Xerri said in a statement on Wednesday.

"There is a process in place that I am required to follow.

"I'm shattered I'm not playing with the boys this weekend and I wish them all the best for Saturday."

Having made his NRL debut last year, Xerri played 22 games and scored 13 tries for the Sharks in 2019.

Australia and New South Wales representative Cameron Murray has extended his contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs until at least the end of 2025.

Murray has played 62 NRL games for the Rabbitohs since making his debut in 2017, while he featured for the Blues three times last year and made his first appearance for the Kangaroos.

The 22-year-old lock extended his deal with South Sydney for another four seasons, it was announced on Wednesday.

"It's very exciting for me and a great relief to have a large chunk of my future sorted now, and to know it will be at this club that I love is very special for me and my family," Murray said.

"I count my lucky stars at how everything has fallen into place and I have no intention of letting this go or slackening off. It means way too much to me, to play for this club and to represent it every day.

"For almost the next six years at least I will be a Rabbitoh and the journey is really only just starting for me.

"It's very exciting and I can't wait to represent our members on the field once again, starting this Friday night against the Roosters."

The Rabbitohs, who won one of their opening two games of the NRL season, will resume their campaign against the Sydney Roosters on Friday.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) hit out at the NRL's plan to reintroduce crowds in July, labelling the idea "absurd" and "dangerous" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NRL season will resume on Thursday and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is hoping capped crowds can return to the league as soon as July.

As the NRL eyes fans returning to stadiums after the campaign was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp also revealed the club are planning for a restricted number of supporters to watch games at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

But the AMA took aim at the NRL, president Tony Bartone saying in a statement: "Put bluntly, this absurd and dangerous idea belongs in the sin bin.

"The NRL should be satisfied that it has its competition back in action, but it is unfair and unwise to put the health of the game's fans at risk. They must first monitor the health and safety of the players and officials who will be involved in the thick of the on-field action.

"Australians have done exceptionally well in flattening the COVID-19 curve, and we are not too far away from relaxing more restrictions.

"Now is not the time for sporting codes to be considering having crowds at games. They must wait until the medical experts advise that it is absolutely safe to do so – and that will not be as early as July.

"The AFL and other sporting codes are adopting the right approach, which is to wait for the expert medical advice before allowing crowds back to watch games.

"We have to be consistent in our public health messaging. Decisions on the safety of holding mass gatherings should be made by medical experts in consultation with the National Cabinet, not by rugby league administrators.

"Of course, we all want to see sport return with fans in the stands barracking for their teams. We also want to see theatre, dance, live music, cinemas, and other entertainments open to the public.

"But the public health must come first. Getting beyond the COVID-19 pandemic is bigger than rugby league - it is about the safety of all Australians."

Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp said the club are keen to be a "test case" for crowds to return to the NRL amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NRL season will resume on Thursday and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is hoping capped crowds can return to the league as soon as July.

As the NRL eyes fans returning to stadiums after the campaign was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, Tripp revealed the Storm are planning for a restricted number of supporters to watch games at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

"We are piecing together a scenario where even if we start with 1,000 people and build to 2,000, 3,000 in every fifth seat, there are plans in place at the moment or plans that we are working through to try and get people to AAMI Park, to create a safe environment for bigger and better things for all codes, not just the NRL," Tripp told RSN's Breakfast Club on Monday.

"We would happily be the test case, it's a wonderful facility to get people in and out of.

"There are measures that we can put in place to ensure the safety of patrons when they're at the game so I can't see why, in line with Peter V'landys' comments on July 1 that we can't get the ball rolling at AAMI."

The Storm were among six teams to have won their opening two games before the NRL was suspended due to coronavirus.

Craig Bellamy's Storm will restart their season against Canberra Raiders behind closed doors in Melbourne on Saturday.

"It would be wonderful if we can get people back to games this year," Tripp added.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is hoping capped crowds can return to the NRL as soon as July amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Suspended in March due to COVID-19, the NRL season will resume on Thursday with Australia having successfully contained the spread of coronavirus.

V'landys has faced some criticism for his relentless approach and said earlier this week he regretted suspending the season.

Now, the ARLC chairman is looking for crowds to return to stadiums in just over a month's time.

"We based our return on analysis and information on infection rates and how the coronavirus really caused the damage it did," V'landys said, via The Sydney Morning Herald.

"When you look at it, 60 per cent came from offshore and even today the four positives all came from overseas.

"You take the Ruby Princess [cruise ship] out and that's less risk again. So in real terms, if the infection rate stays as low as it does and nothing new is coming in from overseas, the risk is going to be pretty low. So why wouldn't we have crowds? We'll do that in the same fashion we did with the return of the game.

"The next test for us is once they relax the measures, we want to see in the next three weeks if the infection rate is altered in any fashion. If it hasn't, we'll be pushing very hard for crowds .... capped crowds."

States across Australia have started easing restrictions, with the country having more than 7,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 102 deaths.

The Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels will restart the NRL season at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.

John Bateman says he has been given permission to talk to other clubs but wants to stay with Canberra Raiders.

England forward Bateman on Friday denied a report that he had requested to be released from his contract with the Raiders after an outstanding debut NRL season.

Bateman, who was named Dally M Second Rower of the Year in his first campaign in Australia, on Saturday revealed Canberra gave him the green light to speak to other clubs due to salary-cap restrictions.

The 26-year-old has denied he is looking to engineer a move, though, and is eager to remain in the capital.

He posted on Twitter: "Like I said yesterday never once have I asked for a release, neither has my management.

"Canberra gave me permission to talk to other clubs months ago because they're tight on the cap next year and nothing for me from 2022 onwards.

"I have a renegotiation clause in my deal for every year, that's why we are working through it.

"I love the Raiders and want to be here. So settle yourselves down and let's get talking about the season starting back up."

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys feels the NRL should not have stopped as the league prepares to return following the coronavirus outbreak.

Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels will restart the 2020 season behind closed doors on May 28 after the competition was postponed through two rounds on March 23 due to COVID-19.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the world, bringing sport to a standstill, but Australia has managed to control the spread.

And V'landys claims Australia's premier rugby league competition should have continued amid the crisis.

"Racing has proven that you can continue on and if I had my time again, quite frankly, we wouldn't have stopped the rugby league," V'landys told News Corp.

"I don't think we were any risk playing on. If we had implemented the biosecurity measures we have in place now … there was really zero risk to the players or the community.

"There were the challenges in relation to the closure of the borders, but I think we could have got around all that. If there is one regret, maybe we acted too quickly. Maybe we should have waited another week to see the infection rates."

V'landys added: "We're not a very big risk. I think the governments would let us see it through now if there was a second wave, especially with the very harsh biosecurity measures we have implemented.

"We've proven it in racing and not only in NSW but right around Australia. If you have proper biosecurity measures, and participants do the right thing and abide by them, the risk is minimal."

Andrew McCullough has joined Newcastle Knights for the rest of the 2020 NRL season, leaving Brisbane Broncos.

McCullough, 30, departs the Broncos after 260 NRL games for the club across 13 seasons, including two appearances this year.

The former Queensland representative will join the Knights for the rest of the season, it was confirmed by both clubs on Thursday.

"We are in a position thanks to good governance from Alex McKinnon to have a top-30 spot available to secure someone of Andrew McCullough's calibre," Knights coach Adam O'Brien said in a statement.

"As one of the leaders of the club, it's my responsibility to be looking at recruitment and retention to have us field a competitive team each week.

"We are on foreign ground with the draw stating we have to play 18 games straight and we need to forward plan.

"We have faith in the depth of our roster but also recognise that promising talent Chris Randall is on the start of his journey having joined the team as a train and trial player late last year.

"Connor Watson is another exceptional player who can fill the role at nine but given his versatility it's important for the make-up of the team to keep him in his current explosive role.

"Taking a holistic approach to the team, the recruitment of Andrew McCullough gives us valuable experience at the highest level."

Newcastle won their opening two games of the NRL season to sit second in the table.

The Knights restart their campaign with a clash against Penrith Panthers on May 31.

State of Origin will be played in November as the NRL released its full revised draw on Thursday.

The NRL is set to resume its season next week amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the marquee series between Queensland and New South Wales moved.

Origin will be played on November 4, 11 and 18, with venues yet to be finalised, it was announced on Thursday.

"The changes to the schedule this year have allowed Origin to be played after the grand final – which is a first for the game, 40 years after the birth of the country's biggest sporting rivalry," NRL interim chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

The NRL Grand Final is set to be held on October 25, with the season already reduced to a 20-round schedule.

The season restarts on May 28, when Brisbane Broncos will host Parramatta Eels.

 

Best round three Opta facts:

- Broncos v Eels: Parramatta have won four of their past six games against Brisbane.
- Cowboys v Titans: North Queensland are on a nine-match winning streak against Gold Coast.
- Roosters v Rabbitohs: South Sydney's Campbell Graham has crossed for a try in each of his past three NRL games.
- Warriors v Dragons: New Zealand have lost five of their past six NRL games played in Australia, with the defeats coming by an average margin of 20 points.
- Sharks v Tigers: Wests have lost their past six games against Cronulla.
- Storm v Raiders: These two teams are the only sides yet to concede a try in the first half of a game this season.
- Panthers v Knights: Penrith have won nine of their 12 games without Nathan Cleary, who is suspended, since his debut.
- Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Canterbury have made 30 errors across their opening two NRL games of the season.

State of Origin will be played in November as the NRL released its full revised draw on Thursday.

The NRL is set to resume its season next week amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the marquee series between Queensland and New South Wales moved.

Origin will be played on November 4, 11 and 18, with venues yet to be finalised, it was announced on Thursday.

"The changes to the schedule this year have allowed Origin to be played after the grand final – which is a first for the game, 40 years after the birth of the country's biggest sporting rivalry," NRL interim chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

The NRL Grand Final is set to be held on October 25, with the season already reduced to a 20-round schedule.

The season restarts on May 28, when Brisbane Broncos will host Parramatta Eels.

 

Best round three Opta facts:

- Broncos v Eels: Parramatta have won four of their past six games against Brisbane.
- Cowboys v Titans: North Queensland are on a nine-match winning streak against Gold Coast.
- Roosters v Rabbitohs: South Sydney's Campbell Graham has crossed for a try in each of his past three NRL games.
- Warriors v Dragons: New Zealand have lost five of their past six NRL games played in Australia, with the defeats coming by an average margin of 20 points.
- Sharks v Tigers: Wests have lost their past six games against Cronulla.
- Storm v Raiders: These two teams are the only sides yet to concede a try in the first half of a game this season.
- Panthers v Knights: Penrith have won nine of their 12 games without Nathan Cleary, who is suspended, since his debut.
- Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Canterbury have made 30 errors across their opening two NRL games of the season.

Page 1 of 13
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.