Manly Sea Eagles prop Keith Titmuss has died at the age of 20 after falling ill following a pre-season training session, the NRL side have confirmed.

Titmuss was considered one of Manly's rising stars after emerging through their junior ranks and was part of the 30-man squad for next season.

He was taken from training in Narrabeen to Northern Beaches Hospital on Monday before being transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he passed away.

Manly announced the tragedy in a statement on their official website and coach Des Hasler added: "We are all devastated by this news.

"Keith was a very popular character amongst the playing group. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by the Sea Eagles."

Titmuss scored the match-winning try for the Sea Eagles in the 2017 NYC Grand Final and was named the Manly Jersey Flegg Cup Players' Player in 2019.

The NRL side's CEO Stephen Humphreys said: "Our club sends its deepest condolences to Keith's family and friends and will provide them with all of the support they need during this difficult period.

"We are working with the NRL's Wellbeing team to offer support and counselling to our playing group and staff."

The 2021 NRL campaign is scheduled to begin on March 11.

An inexperienced Melbourne Storm were downed by a resurgent St George Illawarra Dragons, while Adam Blair said farewell in a classy win for the New Zealand Warriors in Sunday's NRL action.

The Storm had just 547 NRL appearances within the team, the second least in the competition's history, but Paul Momirovski, Sandor Earl, Chris Lewis and Isaac Lumelume all crossed as they led 16-12 at the break at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

However, Zac Lomax, who kicked all five conversions, started the comeback just before the hour with Matthew Dufty quickly going over as well.

Nicho Hynes converted his own score to bring the Storm back into the game, only for Tyson Frizell's late try to earn a 30-22 win for the Dragons.

The defeat does not alter Melbourne's place on the ladder or their Finals fate, but Max King and Tui Kamikamica face potential disciplinary action - the former for a 'hip-drop' tackle on Blake Lawrie and the latter for a late hit on Jayden Sullivan.

The Warriors finish their campaign in 10th after defeating the Manly Sea Eagles 40-28 in Blair's final appearance after 331 NRL matches.

In a high-scoring affair, Adam Keighran finished with a hat-trick, while Patrick Herbert and Eliesa Katoa also scored for the Warriors, who saw Kodi Nikorima put them on the board after they had fallen behind 10-0 after seven minutes at Central Coast Stadium.

Liam Martin scored a memorable leaping effort as Penrith Panthers made a statement of intent by defeating potential Finals rivals Parramatta Eels 20-2 to rack up a 13th straight NRL win.

Table-topping Penrith led 6-2 at the end of a low-scoring first half at Panthers Stadium on Friday, with Josh Mansour diving over from Jarome Luai's pass at the siren.

But the Eels eventually caved under a barrage of attacks, having held up several efforts in the first half, with Martin athletically snaring the ball out of the air to touch down in the 56th minute.

Luai went over in the final stages as well to add gloss to the scoreline and provide the third-place Eels a reminder of the task they could potentially face come Finals time in October.

In Friday's other contest, Manly Sea Eagles triumphed 32-20 at rock-bottom Canterbury Bulldogs with Taniela Paseka, Curtis Sironen, Brad Parker, Jack Gosiewski, Morgan Harper and Martin Taupau all scoring in the six-try effort.

The win was soured slightly by late injuries to Cade Cust (ankle) and Addin Fonua-Blake (knee). The former is expected to miss the final two rounds, while the latter is doubtful to play against Gold Coast Titans next week.

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.

South Sydney Rabbitohs inflicted more pain on the beleaguered Brisbane Broncos despite the absence of Wayne Bennett with an emphatic 28-10 victory in the rain at ANZ Stadium.

Broncos coach Bennett was forced into isolation for two weeks on Thursday after breaching the NRL's biosecurity protocol with a trip to a restaurant.

The Bunnies were clearly not affected by Bennett not being present for the clash with his former club on Friday as they moved up to sixth place, with Jason Demetriou filling in as coach.

Dane Gagai finished off a well-worked move to put the Rabbitohs in front and although the Broncos responded with a score from Herbie Farnworth, Adam Reynolds and Mark Nicholls crossed to give the home side a 20-6 half-time lead.

The fit-again David Fifita marked his return from injury with a try to give the second-bottom Broncos hope, but Tom Burgess finished at the other end and Reynolds made it four conversions out of four to complete the scoring.

It was another day to forget for Brisbane, with club legend Allan Langer earlier among three staff members to be stood down for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

New Zealand Warriors earlier ruined Manly Sea Eagles boss Des Hasler's 400th game as an NRL coach with a 26-22 victory at Lottoland.

Patrick Herbert grabbed a double as the Warriors got off to a storming start, leading 16-0 after 18 minutes, before withstanding a Manly fightback to move up to 11th.

Penrith Panthers extended their winning run to seven matches with a 42-12 thrashing of Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday. 

The NRL table-toppers ran riot in Sydney, scoring seven tries and moving past the 300-point mark for the 2020 season. 

Rookie Charlie Staines, who scored four tries on his debut, helped himself to two more in his second appearance while Nathan Cleary provided 18 points and pulled the strings with two try assists in a one-sided contest. 

Staines might have had more than his early double - which came either side of Isaah Yeo's four-pointer - had he not injured his hamstring diving for the corner to score his second try. 

Stephen Crichton, Cleary, Brent Naden and Apisai Koroisau also went over for Penrith, while Jake Trbojevic and Jorge Taufua were the Sea Eagles' try-scorers. 

The boot of Kyle Flanagan proved crucial as he kicked five goals in Sydney Roosters' narrow 18-12 victory over Gold Coast Titans, who had Brian Kelly and Keegan Hipgrave sent to the sin bin in either half of a contest where both sides scored two tries apiece. 

John Bateman's first appearance of the season helped Canberra Raiders - beaten in last year's NRL Grand Final - overcome North Queensland Cowboys 14-12. 

Bateman, back from a shoulder injury, had a hand in both of his team's tries, including Curtis Scott's 55th-minute score which proved decisive in a tight affair.

 

 

Josh Addo-Carr, Jahrome Hughes and Tino Faasuamaleaui each scored twice as Melbourne Storm raced to the top of the NRL standings with a stunning second-half display at Brisbane Broncos.

The Storm - third at the start of play - needed to win by at least 12 points to overtake Parramatta Eels at the summit and duly delivered a dominant 46-8 success.

Addo-Carr got the scoring started in the second minute, but the comfortable margin of victory seemed unlikely before half-time.

The Broncos even led briefly after Herbie Farnworth crossed and Kotoni Staggs converted before dispatching a penalty, but Cameron Smith's boot levelled matters before Hughes put Melbourne back in front.

It was one-way traffic following the restart as further tries steadily followed. Kenny Bromwich, Faasuamaleaui and Ryan Papenhuyzen each went over, followed by a stylish second for Hughes with just under a quarter of an hour to play.

Things then went from bad to worse for Brisbane when Tevita Pangai Jr kicked the ball away and was sent to the sin bin for a period in which Addo-Carr and Faasuamaleaui completed the scoring.

In the early game, Manly Sea Eagles climbed to seventh with a 24-14 success at North Queensland Cowboys.

Interim coach Josh Hannay took charge of the Cowboys for the first time, but they had a mountain to climb after Curtis Sironen crossed early and Danny Levi added a second Manly try.

Although a response came from Kyle Feldt before half-time, the Sea Eagles set up a comfortable triumph with scores from Daly Cherry-Evans and Cade Cust prior to Francis Molo's consolation.

Bankwest Stadium will host three games in round eight of the NRL season after an inspection was carried out in response to concerns raised over the state of the field.

Sydney Roosters duo Victor Radley and Sam Verrills both suffered serious knee injuries during the first half of their team's 26-12 victory over St George-Illawarra Dragons last Friday.

However, following an independent examination of the playing surface, the venue has been cleared for use.

"We had two really unfortunate season-ending injuries there and no one ever wants to see that," NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

"The fact they happened so close together did raise questions and the NRL acted quickly. By close of business that night we had organised an independent inspection of the field the next morning.

"That took place and the detailed report we received was an assessment across the field in many different points.

"They took readings for traction, firmness and any other gauge to determine the quality of a professional sporting field.

"All of those readings came back to an acceptable range. The Rugby League Players Association were in attendance for that and they were satisfied."

Annesley also confirmed that plans to replace the field have been moved forward, adding: "They started that process late last night. By the time we get to round eight this week it will effectively be a brand new surface."

Parramatta Eels against North Queensland Cowboys will kick off the action at the ground on Friday. 

Wests Tigers will then take on table-topping Penrith Panthers the following day, while the trio of fixtures at Bankwest Stadium will be completed on Sunday when the Canterbury Bulldogs meet the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Meanwhile, a number of clubs have been granted permission to play at their respective homes again.

Canberra Raiders are to host the Dragons at GIO Stadium, Gold Coast Titans will be back at Cbus Super Stadium for their clash with Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles return to Lottoland to take on Newcastle Knights.

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.

Despite events having to take place behind closed doors and restrictions on travel outside the country, Australia's major sporting leagues continue to plough on manfully amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Football, rugby league and Australian rules football are all vying for centre stage this weekend.

A look further afield means we've also got all you cricket and boxing fans covered.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC – A-League

Normally one of the feistiest fixtures on the A-League calendar, the empty stands of Bankwest Stadium will feel particularly incongruous for the latest instalment of this local argument.

Sydney are sitting pretty at the top of the standings – seven points clear of Melbourne City and with three games in hand – but their only two A-League defeats this season have come courtesy of a pair of 1-0 defeats to the Wanderers, with Mitchell Duke the matchwinner on both occasions.

Roosters v Sea Eagles, Sharks v Storm – NRL

It's week two in the NRL and correcting false starts will largely be the order of the day on Saturday.

Sydney Roosters were beaten 20-14 by Penrith Panthers and will hope to make amends at home to Manly Sea Eagles, themselves dispatched 18-4 by Melbourne Storm.

It means the Storm travel with a spring in their steps to face Cronulla Sharks, who fell short in a 22-18 thriller against South Sydney Rabbitohs last time out.

New Zealand Warriors, who have remained in Australia due to travel restrictions back home, are also in action against Canberra Raiders.

Melbourne City v Sydney FC – W-League

Melbourne City were the dominant force in the W-League this term, topping the table undefeated, and head into Saturday's Grand Final as strong favourites to win their fourth title in the past five seasons.

City earned the right to host the match by demolishing Western Sydney Wanderers 5-1 in their semi-final, while there was a certain symmetry to Sydney FC progressing via a 1-0 win against Melbourne Victory.

Greater Western Sydney v Geelong - AFL

The first round of action in the AFL sees last season's beaten Grand Finalists Greater Western Sydney host Geelong – the 2019 minor premiers.

Elsewhere Essendon entertain Freemantle, Sydney Swans travel to Adelaide Crows and Gold Coast Suns take on Port Adelaide.

Tibo Monabesa v Toto Landero – WBC International light-flyweight title

The coronavirus outbreak has led to the vast majority of elite boxing action in the United Kingdom and the United States being cancelled, but there is an international contest of some intrigue in Indonesia.

Monabesa (20 wins, one defeat, two draws) is seeking to get back in world title contention having won successive bouts on the back of his sole career loss to Japan's undefeated WBC light-flyweight king Hiroto Kyoguchi.

Jakarta's home favourite will have game Filipino Landero (11-4-2) for company in the squared circle.

Rangers v Mountaineers, Matabeleland Tuskers v Mid West Rhinos – Logan Cup

Mountaineers can draw level with Mashonaland Eagles at the top of Zimbabwe's first-class cricket competition if they can see off a Rangers side languishing in last place and winless in six matches this season.

It's also day one of four when Mid West Rhinos travel to face Matabeleland Tuskers. Rhinos all-rounder Neville Madziva is the top run-scorer in the Logan Cup this season – his total of 361 including a maiden red-ball century.  

Manly Sea Eagles prop Addin Fonua-Blake spoke to the media in a face mask as he weighed into talk of possible pay cuts for NRL players.

The NRL is planning to continue its season despite the coronavirus pandemic, with round two scheduled to be played behind closed doors.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Fonua-Blake wore a face mask, saying it was a precautionary move.

"I don't want to get sick and I don't want to get anyone else sick if I got it," he said.

Fonua-Blake added: "I just rocked up today with it, a few boys had a laugh but won't be laughing if you get sick."

Fonua-Blake backed NRL chiefs to make the right decision regarding the season, with play scheduled to continue.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said on Monday players could face pay cuts, although admitted it would be an "extraordinary measure".

Fonua-Blake, 24, believes such a move would be unfair on players.

"I feel as though if you sign a contract and a contract says you'll be paid X amount, you're owed X amount whether you play or not," he said.

"It might be a bit unfair on older players that maybe took a pay cut or younger players coming through that aren't on as much money as certain players that have to pay bills and pay rent and stuff like that.

"I feel like if you sign an agreement the agreement should be met by both parties. If you're fully fit and you're able to play you should be getting paid.

"The outcome of what's happened is unfortunate but as long as you're still meeting your requirements within your contract I reckon you should still be getting what's owed to you."

Manly suffered a loss to the Melbourne Storm in the opening round and are scheduled to face the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.

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