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September 7, 2009

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Home » Sports » Rugby

Newcastle clinches playoff berth

NEWCASTLE shut out Penrith 35-0 to clinch a playoff spot while North Queensland beat the Sydney Roosters 32-16 yesterday in the final weekend of the regular season in Australia's National Rugby League.

On Saturday, the fourth-place Melbourne Storm beat the New Zealand Warriors 30-0, South Sydney edged Cronulla 26-24 and defending champions Manly beat the third-place Gold Coast Titans 38-4.

Manly skipper Matt Orford said the performance would give his side the confidence to defend its title from fifth place.

"It's definitely a bit harder, but this competition is wide open," said Orford.

Most of the buzz entering the weekend was over in about a 15-minute span - and 48 hours before the round officially ended.

That was the difference in the ending times of St George Illawarra's 37-0 win over Parramatta and the Bulldogs 34-12 loss to the Wests Tigers on Friday which ultimately decided first place and the minor premiership.

The win broke a three-game losing streak for the Dragons heading into next week's first round of the playoffs and clinched top spot.

The Bulldogs' loss ended any chance it had of becoming the first club to go from last to first in consecutive seasons - a win would have left it as the minor premiers.

The second-place Bulldogs, in fact, had a better record - 18-6 versus the Dragons' 17-7.

The Bulldogs, however, had two competition points taken away for using an ineligible player on the field early in the season.


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