Storm struggling for minor premiership - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm struggling for minor premiership

By Steve Jancetic and Tom Wald 30/06/2008 07:42:49 AM Comments (0)

Melbourne face an uphill battle to become the first NRL side to win three successive minor premierships after a 24-22 loss to Parramatta left them in third place on the table.

The Storm sit two points off the competition lead following a narrow defeat after fielding a side missing nine Origin players.

It is the club's third loss from as many games without the nucleus of their best side and Melbourne now have just 10 matches to overtake frontrunners Manly and Sydney Roosters.

But the Storm's task of running down the Sea Eagles is made tougher by virtue of Manly's superior for and against record which is 49 points better than Melbourne's.

This effectively means Melbourne must win two more games than the Sea Eagles and Roosters if they are to add to their 2006 and 2007 JJ Giltinan Shields.

Only eight clubs in 100 years of league have won three or more minor premierships in succession, Manly were the last to do so from 1995-1997.

Stand-in Storm captain Cooper Cronk claimed his side would look to regroup as they attacked the final third of the season.

"When the season come around you know that Origin period's going to be hard, for the rep players and everyone else, especially when your understrength like us," Cronk said.

"But when the boys come back, no mater who wins (Origin), I'm sure the guys are going to come back and put their foot down and forget about the rep stuff and get stuck into some footy at the back end of the season."

The Eels lifted themselves into eighth place on 18 points with Sunday's win, just one ahead of Penrith and one behind Brisbane who fought out a 12-all draw on Friday night.

Manly's winning streak is out to four after a 28-12 victory over Newcastle on Saturday night while the Roosters produced a gallant 24-14 defeat of the Bulldogs on Friday night despite being without six Origin stars.

The Storm could drop to fourth on Monday night if Cronulla can conjure up a victory away to Canberra.

St George Illawarra meanwhile moved into fifth place with a 26-22 win over the Gold Coast on Saturday night extending the Dragons winning streak to six and ending the Titans unbeaten run at Skilled Park.

Wests Tigers blew their chance at joining the top eight with a 28-26 upset loss to New Zealand Warriors at Leichhardt Oval which now leaves the 2005 premiers 12th and facing a monumental task to climb into the playoffs.

"Today was a big game in the scheme of things ... now we have less and less room for error," said Tigers coach Tim Sheens.

The Warriors win was just their second in eight trips across the Tasman this year and lifts them to just one win below the Tigers but still with a mountain to climb to reach the finals.

"A loss today I am not sure if it would have killed us but it would have gone close so it was important," said Warriors coach Ivan Cleary.

The Warriors' (14 pts) win moves them momentarily out of the scrap at the bottom of the table involving the Bulldogs (12 pts), South Sydney (12 pts) and North Queensland (8 pts).

The Rabbitohs stepped out of wooden spoon favouritism with the second biggest comeback in league history in their 29-28 defeat of the Cowboys.

Souths trailed 28-4 early in the second half but four late tries and a field goal to Chris Sandow sent North Queensland crashing to their ninth straight defeat.

The Cowboys have the bye this week but will head to Auckland on July 12 desperate to avoid a club-record equalling 10th successive loss.

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