Roosters close in on NRL top after Manly, Souths lose

Sydney: The Sydney Roosters stepped up their quest for back-to-back National Rugby League championships with a crushing 46-12 win over the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

The Roosters built on last weekend`s 48-4 thrashing of Wests Tigers to hammer the Warriors, scoring eight tries to hand the New Zealanders their biggest loss of the year.

The Roosters moved to within two points of leaders Manly Sea Eagles with two rounds of the regular season remaining before the play-offs.

Manly and South Sydney both suffered defeats in this weekend`s round.

Manly succumbed to a second-half comeback by Parramatta to lose 22-12.

Trailing 12-0, the Eels looked in trouble but the home side scored four unanswered tries to climb back into the top eight.

The Eels went into the game with their season on the line following the previous week`s controversial loss to Canterbury, but they responded to the pressure.

Souths were well beaten by North Queensland 22-10 at Sydney`s Olympic stadium.

With Test star Johnathan Thurston pulling the strings, Kyle Feldt scored a first-half try double as the Cowboys kept their hopes of a top four berth alive.

The four-tries-to-two win moved the Cowboys to sixth on the NRL standings, with Souths missing a great chance to move to top of the ladder following Manly`s loss.

The Penrith Panthers can move to outright second if they can beat Melbourne Storm at home in the remaining game of the round on Monday.

Canterbury won their second successive game to virtually secure their place in the finals with a 30-10 win over the injury-ravaged Wests Tigers.

Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin continued his fine run against the man who will replace him next season with a 48-6 win over Newcastle.

Griffin now has six wins from eight matches against Wayne Bennett after the Broncos` second straight win at home.

Brisbane`s win was sealed by a second-half hat-trick of tries from Ben Barba and keeps them in the hunt for a finals berth with two games remaining.

St George Illawarra greeted Paul McGregor`s appointment as full-time coach with an emphatic 34-6 win over an injury-hit Gold Coast at home on Sunday.

With halves Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop firing and the Titans unable to hold onto the ball, the visitors were blown away in a six-tries-to-one win.

The victory kept the Dragons` finals hopes alive to be a win behind eighth-placed Parramatta.

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