NRL

NRL referee opens up on vile abuse after World Cup semi

Cecchin, who disallowed a try that would have given Tonga an upset win, has told The Sydney Morning Herald he was in an Auckland bar when police rang to tell him they had contacted him and several family members that had been targeted.

He was advised not the leave the hotel and told he would be picked up and taken to the airport.

On his return to Australia, he was picked up by the Australian Federal Police.

He also flicked through his phone to discover more than a thousand "vile" attacks, the likes of which he had never encountered across his entire career.

Blair, Luke and Harris return to boosts Warriors

Harris (knee) and Luke (calf) were listed in the initial line-up for last Sunday's encounter with Gold Coast but didn't recover sufficiently and were later ruled out.

Blair was serving a one-match suspension but, along with Luke and Harris, returns in a starting forward pack showing three changes from the combination used in the 36-12 loss to the Titans.

Luke slots in for Jazz Tevaga, Harris for Joseph Vuna and Blair for Simon Mannering.

Warriors fall to table-topping Storm

The premiers haven't always been pretty on a winning run that stretches seven matches but they did enough again at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

In a far cry from their 50-10 win over the Warriors on Anzac Day, Melbourne relied on defensive scrambling, slightly better control and some fortunate referee calls to join South Sydney and St George Illawarra on 13 wins.

A superior points differential puts them on top and on target to repeat their minor premiership win in 2017.

Tonga coach gives pass mark to draft calendar

The proposal from the NRL includes a new Oceania Cup to be played next year between New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

Two separate Four Nations tournaments could also be played in 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa in one and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the other.

Kristian Woolf said he was encouraged by last week's announcement, even though he only found out via the media.

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Billy Slater goes out with a win

Queensland provided one final highlight for stand-in skipper Slater, downing NSW 18-12 in State of Origin III in Brisbane in a fitting farewell for the veteran fullback.

Polarising Maroons playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans was a standout after ending three years in the Origin wilderness.

After his 31st and final Origin, Slater said it was vital for the Maroons' future that he helped deny the Blues their first series whitewash in 18 years.

Eels land Roosters winger Ferguson

The versatile 28-year-old will join the Eels next year after he rejected an offer from Newcastle Knights.

Ferguson has scored 10 tries in 16 NRL games for the Roosters this season and put his outstanding form down to improving his off-field discipline.

"I had a conversation with him about how important it is for us that we want the right people and good people at our club," Eels coach Brad Arthur told NRL.com.

Robert Jennings scores four tries as Rabbitohs outgun Eels

Although the Rabbitohs share 22 competition points with the Dragons and Panthers, their commanding win gave them a far better points differential. So they will stay kings of the castle for at least 24 hours until Penrith play the Roosters.

Souths were superior in so many areas at ANZ Stadium, their victory coming off the back of a magnificent night's work to winger Jennings, who spoiled his brother Michael's 250th NRL game, and a brace to fullback Alex Johnston.

Round 8 NRL team lists

St George Illawarra Dragons v Sydney Roosters, Wednesday 4.10pm at Allianz Stadium

Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin

Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Jacob Host

Reserves: 18 Hame Sele, 19 Zachary Lomax, 20 Mitchell Allgood, 21 Reece Robson

Warriors topple NRL leaders

The home side produced a superb defensive effort to hand the Dragons their first loss of the season.

The win had seemed safe with 14 minutes to go when hooker Isaac Luke grabbed the home side's third try.

Luke, who made several dummy-half runs, produced a 40-20 and finished off by scoring close to the line.

But the Dragons set up a grandstand finish when second-rower Tariq Sims forced his way over for a converted try with six minutes to go to close the gap to four points.

Warriors ready for 'blockbuster' against Dragons

Actually doing it will be even more difficult.

Traditionally, the words "blockbuster billing", "St George Illawarra" and "Warriors" haven't belonged in the same sentence.

The two clubs - or three if you include the four years of the Warriors' existence before St George and Illawarra merged - have made the finals in the same season just five times.

Nor have they ever met in a finals clash.

In simple terms, this makes Friday night's match the biggest ever played between the two sides.