NRL

Warriors on song ahead of finals

Blaring music and simulated crowd noise was the backdrop on Tuesday as the Warriors prepared for the atmosphere they expect against Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

Fit-again five-eighth Green introduced the idea, believing the Warriors need a reminder of what awaits in the play-offs, seven years after their last post- season experience.

"It's just a lot louder when you play finals footy. It was just something I thought would be of benefit," he said.

Warriors end playoff drought

A hat-trick to David Fusitu'a and masterful display from Shaun Johnson laid the foundations of a memorable win which ensures the Kiwi club enters the post- season for the first time since 2011.

Hot and cold performances over the last two months left the Warriors' fate on tenterhooks for an extended period but the Panthers never threatened to halt the party for 17,195 supporters.

A second successive loss under caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo drops the Panthers from fifth to sixth and drives a dagger through their top-four hopes.

Warriors leaving it late to lock in NRL play-off spot

Relief will descend on Mt Smart Stadium if the eight-placed Kiwi outfit can see off Penrith Friday night, booking their first post-season campaign since 2011.

Lose and they could face a nerve-wracking final-round match against Canberra, presuming the ninth-placed Wests Tigers have kept themselves in contention by beating Manly on Thursday.

A run of yo-yo performances have stopped the Warriors from sealing the deal, including last week's dramatic 27-26 loss to Canterbury.

Canberra upset Roosters in NRL thriller

The Roosters could have gone a game clear on top of the ladder with a win at GIO Stadium.

Instead, their poor record in the nation's capital continued, where they haven't won since 2010.

The Roosters are locked in a three-way battle at the top of the table for the minor premiership with Melbourne and South Sydney.

The Storm are ahead because of their superior points difference.

Focused Warriors primed for NRL charge

Red-hot fullback Tuivasa-Sheck is pointing to last month's embarrassing 36-12 loss to the Gold Coast Titans as the wake-up he and his team needed.

The seventh-placed Kiwi club have since outplayed St George Illawarra and Newcastle to all-but book a finals berth.

At the forefront has been Tuivasa-Sheck, returning the football in devastating fashion.

Every defender beaten and metre chewed up is based on a more narrowed approach, he says, with the 25-year-old now realising he had spent too much energy on what he thought a captain should be doing.

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.