Storm declare Dragons team to beat

Steve Zemek
Tim Lafai scores for St George Illawarra against Melbourne

Premiers Melbourne have declared St George Illawarra the NRL benchmark after their 34-14 humbling at the hands of the Dragons on Sunday.

The Dragons blew the Storm off the park in the second-half and Storm coach Craig Bellamy conceded the ladder leaders had given his side a wake-up call.

While the Dragons won four tries to three, the Storm never really had any moments of ascendancy.

The Dragons' goalline defence was staunch - for the final 12 minutes of the first-half the Dragons had just four sets but they turned the Storm away on every occasion.

"What we took from today is they're the benchmark," Bellamy said.

"We know now we've got some work to do. I've just said that to the players in there and hopefully they'll take that on board.

"They are the benchmark without a doubt, they've been playing great footy all season. If we want to play some footy in September, we need to improve."

The Dragons now sit atop the ladder as the only side on 16 points and have proven themselves a big game side after their win over the Sydney Roosters in an Anzac Day blockbuster 10 days prior.

"The last three weeks have been big games, different environments for each one. Big occasions," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.

"When you've got belief, your attitude is right. The main thing at the moment is we've got a lot of belief and our attitude is really good."

Meanwhile on Sunday, Manly's disastrous campaign sank even lower as they went down to the Sydney Roosters 22-20.

On Saturday, Cronulla scored a 22-20 win over Parramatta to jump into the top eight for the first time this year, but only after the Eels scored three tries in the last five minutes to give the Sharks an almighty scare.

A recurrence of Wade Graham's hamstring injury created headaches for both the Sharks and NSW.

Injuries to Issac Luke (shoulder) and Shaun Johnson (leg) put a dampener on the Warriors' 26-4 victory over the Wests Tigers.

Queensland hopeful Jai Arrow was taken to hospital with an abdominal injury as Canberra romped over the Gold Coast 32-18.

On Friday, North Queensland bounced back into the winner's circle with a 26-20 defeat of Penrith, who lost Trent Merrin to a badly broken finger during the warm-up.

An emotional Cody Walker, whose mother died just two days prior, led South Sydney to a 36-18 win over Newcastle.

The sin-binning of Moses Mbye in the last minute allowed Brisbane to snatch a controversial 22-20 win over Canterbury, who were left fuming.