Four unanswered tries in the second half help the Sydney Roosters overhaul Cronulla 26-18, while the Storm hammer Canterbury 52-18, and Gold Coast outclasses Newcastle 42-16.
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Roosters vs Sharks
Storm run riot against woeful Bulldogs
The Melbourne Storm ran in an astonishing nine tries to beat Canterbury 52-18 and consign the winless Bulldogs to a fifth straight loss to start the season.
A Luke Thompson try in the 22nd minute against the Storm at Stadium Australia finally ended a painful 265-minute wait for Bulldogs fans to have something to cheer about in what has been a harrowing start to the year.
Should North Queensland upset the Wests Tigers and join first-time winners Manly on Sunday, the Bulldogs will be the only side yet to win so far this season.
Their 0-5 win-loss start is the club’s worst since 1964.
Canterbury’s sorry defence in front of a crowd of 5,104 spectators overshadowed the ruthlessness of the Storm, who produced their biggest score of the season.
Craig Bellamy’s men were racing the clock inside the opening 18 minutes, with Felise Kaufusi, Jahrome Hughes and Christian Welch all scoring in easy fashion.
Thompson’s four-pointer for the Bulldogs was a mere blip, as Tui Kamikamica and George Jennings ensured the Storm led by four tries at half-time.
A cricket score loomed when Ryan Papenhuyzen remarkably chased down a Jennings kick early in the season period, only for Bulldogs youngster Jake Averillo to showcase a glimpse of his future.
The 20-year-old scored a try, laid on another, and nailed a 40-20 in the space of an eye-catching 11-minutes.
But it only served to wake up the visitors, who cracked the half-century through tries to Justin Olam, Josh Addo-Carr and Nicho Hynes.
Titans hammer Knights
The return of Kalyn Ponga was not enough to stop a David Fifita-inspired Gold Coast romping to a 42-16 win over a depleted Newcastle in Robina.
To be fair to Ponga, it is unlikely anyone would have made much of a difference against a rampant Titans outfit who ran in eight tries to three, including a first career hat-trick for Fifita.
Plenty of eyes may have been on Knights star Ponga in his first match of 2021 after the ex-Queensland fullback was welcomed back from off-season shoulder surgery.
But it was Fifita who stole the show as the Titans claimed their third win in five matches to pile on more misery for the injury-hit Knights.
Ponga’s return had been welcome good news for Newcastle, who had lost 10 of their top-29 squad to injury or suspension in the first four rounds.
But there was more pain to come for the visitors, who lost try-scoring lock Chris Randall (shoulder) in the 19th minute.
For the Titans, pivot Ash Taylor (broken hand) returned to combine with number seven Jamal Fogarty who showed no signs of a corked thigh suffered last round as the hosts ran amok, with Corey Thompson and Patrick Herbert both bagging doubles.
But the hosts did not emerge unscathed, losing winger Phillip Sami (concussion) in a seventh-minute tackle that resulted in Tyson Frizell being placed on report.
Fifita crossed for his first try in the 22nd minute when he left Frizell in his wake.
He again broke through the Knights defence to crash over in the 32nd and 52nd minutes.
It marked Gold Coast’s sixth straight win over Newcastle, who has not tasted victory on the tourist strip since 2015.
Not much went right for the Knights, with Enari Tuala appearing to cross in the 47th minute after a Ponga bust to potentially cut the deficit to 26-18, only for it to be disallowed when replays showed he had been held up by Brian Kelly.
The signs were ominous from the outset for the visitors, after Ponga started the match by kicking the ball out on the full.
Little else went to plan for the Knights as Gold Coast made them pay, jumping to a 12-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes and leading 26-6 by the 32nd minute.
Gold Coast flyer Herbert was sin-binned shortly before half-time for a professional foul before Newcastle’s Starford Toa crashed over moments later, cutting the deficit at the break to 26-12.
But the Titans piled on another three tries in the second half, including a remarkable length-of-the-field effort scored by Herbert after an AJ Brimson bust off a kick re-start.