NRL

Dragons remain unbeaten

The Sharks' 40-20 loss to their local rivals was only one concern, with Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen sweating on knee scans on Saturday ahead of potentially lengthy stints on the sidelines.

There is particular concern over Fifita, who had his left knee in a brace amd was on crutches, sparking fears he may have damaged his anterior cruciate ligament putting his season in doubt.

Wade Graham (hamstring) and Luke Lewis (knee) will join the pair for scans after minor injuries, cutting through their star-studded forward pack and leaving them with an empty bench by fulltime.

Stat Attack: Roosters' chance to join the 100 club... again

Given South Sydney's dominance in the first two or three decades from the inception of the code in Australia and a strong record through the middle of last century, they hold the edge over the Roosters with 112 wins.

However it is the Roosters who boast the record for the most ever wins against one club, with 117 victories against the North Sydney Bears. The Bunnies downed Norths 104 times and the Balmain Tigers got the better of the Bears on 102 occasions.

The recruitment decisions that turned the NRL on its head

The same goes for St George Illawarra, Wests Tigers and Newcastle, who are all flying high at or near the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder after failing to make the NRL finals in recent seasons.

The success of the unbeaten Warriors and Dragons, coupled with that of the Tigers, Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast and Knights, highlights how a strategically targeted recruitment plan can dramatically change the fortunes of an NRL club.

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Warriors continue unbeaten run

Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and his men have taken the club's best start to a campaign to 5-0, staying with St George Illawarra as the competition's only unbeaten teams.

Unfancied by many pundits at the beginning of 2018, the Warriors are firming as favourites to make their first finals appearance since 2011.

They again demonstrated their new-found defensive resilience against the Cowboys.

Last year's grand finalists have now lost four games in a row.

Raiders up and running

Four defeats out of four heaped the pressure on Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, but his side got up and running despite losing Ata Hingano, Michael Oldfield (both concussion) and Sam Williams (knee) - leaving Liam Knight as their only man on the bench for the second half.

Joey Leilua finished off a brilliant move which was started by Nick Cotric from his own in-goal area to put the Raiders in front and the centre added another try give the home side a 12-0 at the break, Croker converting both scores.

Patience needed as NRL goes through major transition

I used to think they were an acceptable form of chocolate, not the best, but passable. Worst of all, I would willingly choose them over actual treats with taste, especially around Easter.

Then somewhere along the way I changed my mind, my standards were raised.

Flavourless, pretend chocolate was no longer good enough because it was not nearly as delicious as the real thing, and why would I waste time (and calories) on a sub-par substitute? Yes, I’m still coming down from my post-holiday sugar high, but I have a point. I promise.

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Tigers too good for struggling Eels

Having failed to score over 10 points in their previous three games, Ivan Cleary's side cut loose in attack to bounce back from their golden-point loss to Brisbane Broncos last time out.

The Eels opened the scoring when Will Smith caught a high kick by Mitchell Moses before diving over, with the successful conversion making it 6-0 to the visitors.

However, inspired by half-back pairing Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall, the Tigers roared back with 20 unanswered points in the remainder of the first half.

Warriors win again

The Warriors were dealt a massive blow when halfback Shaun Johnson was ruled out with a groin injury on the eve of the Sydney game.

In past years, such a setback would have caused the New Zealand side to put the cue in the rack but they rallied to record an important two points.

Johnson's fill-in, Mason Lino, was superb. However, Green was the chief architect as the Warriors recorded their first win without Johnson since round 22, 2014.

The Warriors are unbeaten after four rounds and look genuine contenders after six years in the finals wilderness.

Round 4: NRL team lists

North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers, 7.05pm (8.05pm AEDT) Thursday at 1300Smiles Stadium

Cowboys: 1 Ben Hampton, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O'Neill, 4 Javid Bowen, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange: 14 Te Maire Martin, 15 John Asiata, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Ethan Lowe

Reserves: 18 Corey Jensen, 19 Lachlan Coote 

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NRL hands down heavy sanctions to Manly over salary cap breaches

The club has been fined $750,000 and two officials - chief operating officer Neil Bare and former CEO Joe Kelly, who is now the boss at the Sydney Roosters - receiving 12-month bans.

Manly will also have a $660,000 penalty applied to their salary cap for this season and the 2019 Telstra Premiership.

The breaches involve 13 players over five years, totalling $1.5 million.