NRL Saturday: Souths and Storm show premiership credentials

Steve Zemek

South Sydney have recorded their ninth-straight NRL win, and history is now firmly on their side to be 2018 premiers.

An Adam Reynolds masterclass and a Robert Jennings hat-trick of tries guided South Sydney to a 24-6 defeat of Canterbury on Saturday.

The Rabbitohs No.7 gave a reminder of his class with a superlative kicking display as well as scoring one try and having a hand in another two for the premiership favourites.

While winger Jennings has established himself as one of the competition's best finishers after his three-try haul took his season tally to 16, provisionally moving him to the top league's try-scoring list.

Coach Anthony Seibold has transformed the Rabbitohs into a premiership force this season and with seven games remaining they look bona fide contenders.

In a promising omen for the Rabbitohs, on the seven occasions they have previously won nine straight in a season, they have gone on to be crowned premiers on six occasions.

The exception being in 1989 when they won 12 straight but fell one game short of the grand final at the hands of eventual premiers Canberra.

Souths celebrate against the Dogs. Image: Getty

The club's record winning streak in a season stands at 15, set in 1932.

The Rabbitohs were guilty of some uncharacteristic errors in the first-half with Angus Crichton blowing a golden opportunity with a wayward pass and Cody Walker putting it down cold with his side on the attack.

They finally clicked into gear when a towering Reynolds bomb caused the Bulldogs to turn it over and Jennings scored off a left-hand shift.

And when Damien Cook scythed through the defensive line from dummy-half, the Rabbitohs went 70 metres to score through Reynolds to make it 12-2 at halftime.

Reynolds fingerprints were once again all over the Rabbitohs third try when he deftly grubber-kicked for Jennings.

It took a back-handed basketball pass from Will Hopoate to Reimis Smith to get the home side on the board for the first time.

The Dogs were plucky in the first-half, getting over the line on three occasions only to be held up.

And a desperate strip from Sam Burgess on Jeremy Marshall-King once again denied the Bulldogs with 14 minutes remaining.

Souths completed the rout when Jennings grabbed his treble - the third time he has scored three or more tries in a game this season.

The results leaves the Bulldogs anchored in 15th spot with just four wins for the season.

Storm score gutsy win withour Origin stars

A late Cameron Smith penalty goal has helped Melbourne come back from the brink to avoid an upset NRL loss and beat arch rivals Manly 14-13 at Lottoland.

After the Sea Eagles jumped out to a 12-0 lead early and Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a field goal just before the break, the Storm scored tries either side of halftime to reduce the margin to one.

The game remained at 13-12 for a high-quality 20 minutes during the second half before Trent Hodkinson was penalised for picking up the ball in an offside position with nine minutes to go.

Without five of their Origin stars in Billy Slater, Cameron Munster, Will Chambers, Josh Addo-Carr and Felise Kaufusi, Smith then kicked the Storm to victory with a penalty goal.

Smith's availability through the Origin period again paid dividends as the Storm went 6-0 through the representative weeks for the first time in the club's history.

The Storm go over in their 14-13 win. Image: Getty

The win moves Melbourne to second on the NRL ladder ahead of St George Illawarra, who have a game to play against the Wests Tigers this weekend.

Any chances of a rematch between Storm centre Curtis Scott and Manly's Dylan Walker, who came to blows two months ago in Melbourne, were rubbed out before kick-off when Walker was sidelined with a knee injury.

But Scott had the last laugh regardless, putting on an offload that appeared to go forward for Melbourne's first try through Suliasi Vunivalu in the 34th minute.

After Brodie Croft crossed nine minutes after halftime, Scott looked as if he was going to give Melbourne the lead when he charged over on his right edge.

However, the bunker ruled he had dropped the ball in a tackle from Manly's Joel Thompson just as he went to get it down.

Cherry-Evans was impressive for Manly just days after his best performance in a Queensland State of Origin jersey.

He forced two dropouts with the boot, kicked a field goal and laid on the first try for second-rower Shaun Lane.

It was Lane's second of the night after he ran onto a ball from hooker Manase Fainu in just the seventh minute following a Martin Taupau offload that broke the Storm open.

Raiders keep faint finals hopes alive

Canberra's 38-12 victory over North Queensland, inspired by a hat-trick to journeyman Michael Oldfield, has been soured by a knee injury to captain Jarrod Croker.

The Raiders blasted the Cowboys with four second-half tries in below-zero temperatures at GIO Stadium on Saturday night but they could be without Croker for an extended period.

The star centre dislocated his knee early in the match, attempted to play through it for about 20 minutes before going to the bench in pain just before halftime.

Croker's absence seemed to flatten the Raiders after dominant start as North Queensland recovered to close the gap to 14-12 at the break.

Canberra was forced to defend multiple attacking efforts from the Cowboys early in the second half before the floodgates opened.

Jordan Rapana scores one of Canberra's tries. Image: AAP

Oldfield crossed for his second try in the 65th minute and did it again five minutes later by intercepting a Cowboys pass, running the length of the field to put the Raiders up 26-12 to seal their eighth win of the season.

The Raiders opened the scoring in style through winger Jordan Rapana, who was playing his first game in three weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Rapana crossed for his second late in the second-half to put the Raiders 18 points clear, while Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer, who filled in kicking duties for Croker, were also able to get among the points.

Star winger Nick Cotric filled in at fullback in the absence of suspended Jack Wighton and injured Brad Abbey.

Lachlan Coote and Gavin Cooper scored the Cowboys' tries as the pre-season premiership favourites slumped to their 13th loss of the season.