Newcastle Knights are closing in on a home finals game after storming to a 42-18 win against a poor St. George Illawarra Dragons side.

With their seven-year playoff drought already sure to end, the Knights moved up to sixth in the NRL standings ahead of the final week of the regular season.

They now sit a point ahead of South Sydney Rabbitohs and are in pole position to finish sixth, meaning they would host a finals game for the first time since 2006.

The Knights play Gold Coast Titans next while the Rabbitohs meet the Sydney Roosters.

"It would certainly be great," coach Adam O'Brien said about the prospect of earning a home playoff game.

"We love playing here in front of our home, our supporters, our sponsors, our community.

"I know capacity may only be at 50% but I've been here when the place was rocking. I know how difficult it is coming up the highway to play here.

"So it would be huge. It would be great for everyone but we are not there yet." 

Five of the Knights' seven tries - all of which were converted by Mason Lino - came in the first half at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

Centre Enari Tuala dotted down twice for the home team, while Zac Lomax ended up with 14 of the Dragons' 18 points.

In the day's other game, Canberra Raiders kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive by scoring 20 unanswered points to come from behind and beat New Zealand Warriors 26-14.

Coach Ricky Stuart fumed at a sin binning for Jack Wighton while halfback George Williams exited the game early with a head injury as the Raiders trailed 14-6 at home, Peta Hiku having scored twice for the Warriors.

But Elliott Whitehead shone in an unfamiliar position of stand-off and winger Semi Valemei crossed in both halves as Stuart's side ultimately prevailed.

The Raiders can still finish fourth but to do so they must defeat Cronulla Sharks next week and hope Parramatta Eels lose to Wests Tigers.

The Canberra Raiders have re-signed star forward Josh Papalii until at least the end of 2024.

Papalii, 28, is an Australia and Queensland representative and has played 215 NRL games for the Raiders.

Already contracted until the end of 2022, Papalii has re-signed through until 2024, with an option for 2025.

"I love this club and I love Canberra," said Papalii, a three-time winner of the Mal Meninga Medal as the Raiders' player of the year.

"This is my home now and my family and I are very happy to be remaining with the Raiders and in Canberra.

"I came here as a junior player, made my debut here and played my 200th NRL game here and there's no other club I want to play for."

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said Papalii was among the club's greatest ever players.

"There’s no doubt Josh has developed into one of the all-time greats of our club and he is now recognised among the game's elite superstars," he said.

"His commitment to the club and the city of Canberra is wonderful to see and we know we have a player who we can continue to be a big part of our club for years to come."

The Raiders are fifth in the NRL ahead of facing the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday, and they will play finals in 2020.

Daniel Tupou scored his 100th NRL try as Sydney Roosters ended Newcastle Knights' top-four hopes with a 42-12 victory at the SCG on Saturday.

Roosters wing Tupou's second of the game early in the second half saw him hit the milestone in his 171st appearance, helping his team move ahead of Parramatta Eels on points difference and into third.

Josh Morris, Tupou, Luke Keary, Joseph Manu and James Tedesco all crossed in a rampant first half for the hosts, who lost Boyd Cordner to a head injury after 26 minutes, though tries from Enari Tuala and Gehamat Shibasaki ensured the Knights were not completely out of the game.

The Roosters moved the ball magnificently for Tupou to touch down for the 100th time in the left corner three minutes after the restart, and Jake Friend's excellent pass preceded Keary completing his double in the 70th minute.

Brett Morris and Joseph Manu held up Lee to keep Newcastle, who were without full-back Kalyn Pogna, scoreless in the second half, with Sonny Bill Williams playing over half an hour after managing 14 minutes on his debut last week.

The Roosters' success meant Canberra Raiders remain two points adrift of the top four despite a big 37-8 win over St George Illawarra Dragons.

Jack Wighton touched down twice for the visitors at WIN Stadium, while Hudson Young, who missed last year's Grand Final due to an eight-game ban for eye gouging and suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season, scored a try and set one up for John Bateman.

Young's display enabled Josh Papalii to rest for the entire second half, with the only consolation for the Dragons being Cody Ramsey scoring with his first touch in NRL and adding a second before half-time.

Brisbane Broncos took the lead against Gold Coast Titans but ended up succumbing to a club-record ninth straight defeat.

Darius Boyd put the struggling Broncos ahead at Cbus Super Stadium but after Ash Taylor's line break initiated a length-of-the-field move that was finished off by Young Tonumaipea, the Titans held firm for an 18-6 triumph.

An emphatic NRL victory for Melbourne Storm was marred by a suspected ACL rupture for centre Marion Seve.

Melbourne cruised to a 30-6 triumph over Manly Sea Eagles at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday, scoring six tries and 24 unanswered points to all but end their opponents' finals hopes.

But the joy of victory was tempered as Seve was pummelled by Tevita Funa after an early line break, with his team later confirming that his knee injury was thought to be to his ACL.

Prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona also suffered a calf problem in a contest that saw Justin Olam score a hat-trick for Storm.

Josh Addo-Carr added a double and Asofa-Solomona dotted down for the side sitting second in the NRL ladder, with fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen providing three assists and Jesse Bromwich impressing at prop.

Addin Fonua-Blake scored the Sea Eagles' only try after 14 minutes but they were unable to add to that and now sit six points behind Cronulla Sharks in eighth with just four rounds remaining.

In the other game, Canberra Raiders overcame a scare to boost their hopes of a top-four finish by wiping out an eight-point half-time deficit against Canterbury Bulldogs in an entertaining encounter that produced 10 tries.

A 34-20 home success saw Jack Wighton and Tom Starling score two tries apiece, with the Bulldogs, who remain bottom of the standings, held scoreless in the second half.

Wighton produced two superb runs to finish from close range early in the second half after Starling had been sin-binned, turning the match and giving his side a sixth win from seven.

Shaun Johnson ruled out giving evidence against Kevin Proctor after the Gold Coast Titans captain was sent off for allegedly biting him during a 30-18 win for Cronulla Sharks.

Proctor's 250th NRL appearance will not be remembered for the right reasons, as the forward was given his marching orders following an incident in the second half at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.

It was deemed after referee Henry Perenara asked the Bunker to examine footage that Proctor sunk his teeth into the arm of his New Zealand team-mate, so the 31-year-old was the first NRL player to be dismissed for biting.

Johnson, who came off with a groin injury later in the game, told Fox Sports: "Nothing happened, let's just leave it at that. We were both heated in the middle of the game and I was a bit high on him and whatever happened, happened, but we're still mates.

"It's his 250th [NRL match] and I don't want this to dampen this at all. He's been a great player for so long at Melbourne [Storm] and now Gold Coast, and he's led with his actions his whole career.

"I don't think it's appropriate and I guess this doesn't do Kevvie justice to talk about this. He's a great player and I've loved playing with him at Kiwi level and I've got nothing but respect for him."

Asked if he would testify against Proctor, Johnson replied: "No, not at all. I don't see the value of taking it any further than what's happened here today. I love him as a player and person, and I've got nothing more to say about it."

Three tries in the space of six minutes from Sione Katoa, Wade Graham and Jack Williams following Proctor's exit put the Sharks well on their way to a seventh win in nine matches.

Adam Reynolds was on target with a late penalty and a field goal after Alex Johnston grabbed a double in a dramatic 31-30 win for South Sydney Rabbitohs over North Queensland Cowboys.

Canberra Raiders put the sorry Brisbane Broncos to the sword in the final match of the day, Nick Cotric touching down twice in a 36-8 rout at GIO Stadium.

The Penrith Panthers matched a club record with an eighth straight win as they showed why they belong at the top of the NRL table.

A 28-12 win over the Canberra Raiders on Saturday came thanks to tries from Viliame Kikau, Liam Martin, the prolific Stephen Crichton and Brent Naden that all arrived before half-time.

Canberra trailed 24-0 at the break but cut their deficit after the break thanks to a double from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad; however, Nathan Cleary's kicking for the Panthers kept them at arm's length.

The Panthers first won eight in a row in the 2003 season, when they went on to win the Grand Final.

The Melbourne Storm had briefly nudged ahead of the Panthers with a 41-10 success against the Canterbury Bulldogs earlier in the day, with Josh Addo-Carr and Kenneath Bromwich both dotting down twice.

Nicho Hynes, Justin Olam and Suliasi Vunivalu also poached tries, with the Storm having posted 22 points in their onslaught before the Bulldogs, who sit at the foot of the ladder, troubled the scoreboard.

The only setback for the Storm was a knee injury sustained by Cameron Munster that could see him miss several weeks of action.

The Storm were not the day's biggest winners, with that honour going to the Newcastle Knights who thumped Wests Tigers 44-4 to climb to sixth place.

Kalyn Ponga grabbed two tries and booted 12 points in a lively display, with Hymel Hunt, Starford To'a, Jacob Saifiti, Herman Ese'ese, Gehamat Shibasaki and Phoenix Crossland also scoring.

Veteran Blake Green made a bright Knights debut after joining in midweek from the New Zealand Warriors, feeding Ponga for the opening try in the ninth minute and winning praise from half-back partner and captain Mitchell Pearce.

"What a super player Greenie is and what a great pick-up for us," Pearce said, quoted on the NRL website. "In the short time I've met him you can tell what a good guy he is.

"I've heard such good raps on him from other players at other clubs and he is really calm, really smart."

Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine have been cleared to face North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday after the Canberra Raiders pair, who refused flu vaccines, were given medical exemptions.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said in May that NRL players who chose to skip the vaccination drive would not be allowed to play in the state.

The NRL had called on all players in the competition to be vaccinated, in line with efforts to bolster its biosecurity measures during the coronavirus crisis.

Papalii said in May that the decision not to be vaccinated was "a personal thing for me and my family".

However, both he and Tapine have received the go-ahead to take part in this weekend's game.

The Raiders said in a statement: "Canberra Raiders Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine have been cleared by the Queensland Government to travel and play matches in Queensland.

"They have both received exemptions on medical grounds.

"The club will be making no further comment on this matter due to the privacy regarding the medical exemptions."

Canberra Raiders rallied impressively to beat South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday, while there were also wins for Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters.

The Rabbitohs led 12-10 midway through the contest at a rain-soaked GIO Stadium, Dane Gagai and Adam Reynolds crossing for tries that the latter also converted.

However, the depleted Raiders - who lost Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to a finger injury - shut out their opponents in the second half, allowing them to overturn the narrow deficit and claim an 18-12 victory.

After Nick Cotric and Jarrod Croker had grabbed tries in the opening half, Semi Valemei touched down in the NRL for the first time just before the hour mark. Ricky Stuart's side then stood firm in difficult conditions to prevail, meaning they move to fifth in the standings.

The Roosters are just above them after they triumphed 18-10 against the New Zealand Warriors, though the reigning champions made hard work of it at Central Coast Stadium.

Ken Maumalo and Eliesa Katoa scored tries as the Warriors led 10-6 at the break. However, Luke Keary and Joseph Manu went over to help the Roosters rally.

Cronulla sit seventh in the ladder after Shaun Johnson inspired the Sharks to a 28-24 triumph over the St George Illawarra Dragons.

The New Zealand half-back scored a try and kicked four conversions as the Sharks overcame injuries to Jesse Ramien and Chad Townsend, while Zac Lomax had 16 points for the beaten Dragons.

Following an incident in the game, the NRL announced bunker officials Steve Clark and Ben Galea had been dropped after incorrectly awarding a try to Cronulla's Jack Williams, who was ruled to have touched the ball down despite Matthew Dufty appearing to ground it first.

New Zealand international Corey Harawira-Naera has signed with Canberra Raiders until the end of 2022.

Harawira-Naera was released by Canterbury Bulldogs and will join the Raiders for the rest of this season.

The 25-year-old and the Bulldogs' Jayden Okunbor had their NRL deregistration's overturned earlier this month and were instead handed suspensions and fines following a schoolgirl sex scandal.

The Raiders confirmed the signing of Harawira-Naera on Friday and chief executive Don Furner praised the forward's talent.

"Corey is a very talented player who's played representative football for New Zealand and we're looking forward to having him join the club for the next two and half years," he said.

"He will join the squad for training once he's been cleared by the Apollo committee and then it's up to the coaching staff to work out when he may play his first game for the club."

Sitting sixth in the NRL, the Raiders face South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday.

The Canterbury Bulldogs have signed Canberra Raiders star Nick Cotric on a three-year deal beginning in 2021.

Cotric, an Australia and New South Wales representative, has scored 37 tries in 80 games for the Raiders since making his NRL debut three years ago.

The 21-year-old helped the Raiders reach the Grand Final last year before they fell to the Sydney Roosters.

He will join the struggling Bulldogs from next year after signing a three-year deal.

"Signing a player of Nick's ability and class is a massive boost for our club moving forward and another step in strengthening our squad to lead us into the future," Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill said.

"With Luke Thompson having joined us and Nick now bringing some great strike power to our backline I am confident that we are constructing the quality of squad that can produce the results we are looking for in the coming seasons."

While the Raiders are sixth in the NRL, the Bulldogs are bottom after losing nine of their 10 games this season.

Canberra Raiders defied a lengthy injury list to defeat reigning premiers Sydney Roosters 24-20 in a repeat of the 2019 NRL Grand Final.

Jarrod Croker scored a try and was on target with all four of his conversion attempts as the depleted Raiders gained a modicum of revenge for last year's 14-8 loss to the same opponents in the title decider.

Forward duo Dunamis Lui and Josh Papalii both touched down during impressive individual displays for a pack missing English pairing Josh Hodgson and John Bateman.

There was also a try for George Williams as the Raiders – who handed a debut to Semi Valemei off the bench – turned around a 12-6 half-time deficit to triumph at Sydney Cricket Ground, a result that lifts them up to seventh on the ladder.

Brett Morris crossed twice for the Roosters in the opening 40 minutes, while Matt Ikuvalu's try just before the hour mark was converted by Kyle Flanagan from out wide to make it 20-18 to the hosts.

However, Papalii waltzed through a large hole in the Sydney defensive line soon after to give the visitors a lead they managed to retain through to the final hooter.

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said "I don't give a s***" about the doubters after Josh Hodgson was added to their long injury list in Saturday's defeat to Melbourne Storm.

Hooker Hodgson is suspected to have suffered an ACL injury in Canberra's 20-14 loss to the Storm, which also saw them lose Bailey Simonsson to a shoulder injury.

With John Bateman (shoulder), Sia Soliola (facial fractures), Corey Horsburgh (foot) and Emre Guler (ankle) all on the sideline, the scale of the Raiders' injury problems is sure to lead to questions as to whether they can return to the Grand Final, having lost the showpiece to Sydney Roosters last season.

Stuart, though, has little time for any downbeat assessments of his team.

"I don't give a s*** what you think," said Stuart. "We won't put our heads down. That I promise.

"I have never had an injury list like this, but I just asked the boys to keep on turning up with same attitude and desire. I just want that effort that we had tonight."

On the injury to Hodgson, Stuart said: "It doesn't look good. He has gone for scans but yeah it looks like I have now lost four players for a long time."

Teenager Charlie Staines enjoyed an unforgettable NRL debut as the Penrith Panthers moved top of the standings with a thumping win over the Cronulla Sharks.

Backed by a group of friends who had travelled to Netstrata Jubilee Oval, the 19-year-old scored four tries as the Panthers won 56-24 to move above the Parramatta Eels, having played a game more.

Staines is the first player to score four debut tries since Jordan Atkins for the Gold Coast Titans 12 years ago.

The Panthers dominated from the off and were 16-0 ahead after 20 minutes, Brent Naden, Liam Martin and Stephen Crichton scoring tries and Nathan Cleary twice adding the extras.

Staines' first came after 23 minutes as he finished a slick backline move before he set up Dylan Edwards to add another two minutes later.

The Sharks rallied through Briton Nikora and Blayke Brailey before half-time but Staines and Billy Burns strengthened the Panthers' advantage despite the loss of captain James Tamou to the sin bin.

A Cleary penalty and another Crichton try put paid to any hopes of a comeback after Jesse Ramien went over, and Staines made sure the headlines belonged to him with two further tries in the final seven minutes.

In the late game on Saturday, Melbourne Storm stood firm in the face of late pressure to claim a 20-14 win over the Canberra Raiders, who lost Josh Hodgson to a suspected ACL injury after 28 minutes.

Storm were 12-6 up at half-time at GIO Stadium, Brenko Lee and Josh Addo-Carr going over either side of a Josh Papalii try.

Ryan Papenhuyzen stretched the lead after the interval, gathering a kick and racing 90 yards down the right wing before dotting down, but Nick Cotric reduced the arrears with 13 minutes left.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scored in the final minute but it was not enough for the Raiders, who slip four points behind third-place Storm.

The Brisbane Broncos had an easier time of things against the struggling Canterbury Bulldogs, winning 26-8 at Suncorp Stadium.

Jamayne Isaako scored two of his side's five tries to add to six points with the boot, although a knee injury to captain Alex Glenn soured celebrations.

John Bateman will be back in Super League next year after signing a long-term deal to rejoin Wigan Warriors.

The England international departed Wigan after helping them to Grand Final glory over Warrington Wolves in 2018, opting to continue his career in the NRL as he moved to Canberra Raiders.

Bateman impressed in his debut season Down Under too, becoming a key part of a Raiders squad that lost to Sydney Roosters in the Grand Final as he was named Dally M Second Rower of the Year.

A shoulder injury has prevented him from playing so far this season and Canberra recently confirmed they had agreed to release the 26-year-old from the final year of his contract.

While linked with Canterbury Bulldogs, Bateman is instead heading back to his homeland in 2021. Wigan confirmed his return on Friday, the forward signing a four-year deal with a further option for a fifth season.

"I'm very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract," Bateman said. 

"On a personal level, some of the best times of my life have been in a Wigan shirt and I can't wait to return, to play and make some more memories. 

"It's been a tough decision but to be back to Wigan, to be at home with my little girl, my mum and the rest of my family is something I can't wait to experience once again.

"I still have plenty of unfinished business with the Raiders and my focus now is to get myself back on the pitch as soon as possible and put myself in the frame for selection."

Wigan had first refusal on Bateman if he decided to move back to Super League - an option they were delighted to take up to secure "one of the best players in the world", according to executive director Kris Radlinski.

"Wigan are thrilled to be bringing John back to the DW Stadium," Radlinski said.

"John is one of the best players in the world. He has the respect of players and coaches in both hemispheres and is a natural born competitor and leader.

"We've been extremely proud to see him take the NRL by storm in 2019 and we've always looked forward to welcoming him back to Wigan when the opportunity presented itself.

"We had an agreement with him that, should he come back to Super League, then we would have first option on him. As he's entering the prime years of his playing career, I think it's a real coup for Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition."

Maika Sivo scored four tries as NRL leaders Parramatta Eels hammered North Queensland Cowboys 42-4 and there was a happy homecoming for Canberra Raiders on Friday.

The Eels showed they can cope without the injured Mitchell Moses at Bankwest Stadium, where Sivo starred and Clinton Gutherson also tormented the sorry Cowboys.

Tries from Michael Jennings, Sivo and Waqa Blake put Brad Arthur's side in command before Tom Opacic crossed to put the Cowboys on the board late in the first half.

North Queensland were unable to contain the leaders after the break, Jai Field touching down and Gutherson providing a third assist for Sivo with a pinpoint cutout pass before the wing completed his treble in the corner.

Sivo was handed a fourth try on a plate with eight minutes to play and full-back Gutherson took his tally with the boot to 14 points with a late penalty as the Eels moved two points clear at the summit.

Canberra responded to back-to-back defeats with a 22-16 defeat of St George-Illawarra Dragon in their first match at GIO Stadium since the resumption.

The Raiders, who this week confirmed John Bateman will leave at the end of the season, scored 22 points - 10 coming from Jarrod Croker - without reply but had to withstand a Dragons fightback to move up to fifth.

George Williams was among the four Raiders try-scorers, but their victory came at a cost as Iosia Soliola, Elliott Whitehead and Emre Guler joined the injury list.

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