Melbourne begins defense of its NRL title with 1st-round win

SYDNEY — Cameron Munster set up two tries in nine minutes late in the second half to give Melbourne a 36-18 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs, a successful start to the Storm's defense of their National Rugby League title.

Munster also came up with a try-saving tackle before throwing a cut-out pass for Suliasi Vunivalu's try that clinched the match for the Storm.

"He's a very, very talented player," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said. "I thought he was one of our best for us tonight and probably turned the game for us."

In an earlier match played at the same stadium in Perth, the New Zealand Warriors ended a nine-match losing streak in Western Australia state with a 32-20 win over South Sydney.

In matches Sunday, Penrith overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Parramatta 24-14 and Gold Coast beat Canberra 30-28.

Johnathan Thurston marked his 300th NRL game by setting up two tries, including a 78th-minute match-winner, as the North Queensland Cowboys, who lost in the grand final last year to Melbourne, beat Cronulla 20-14. Thurston will retire after his 17th and final NRL season in 2018.

A 79th-minute sideline conversion from Tuimoala Lolohea gave the Wests Tigers a 10-8 win over the Sydney Roosters. Mitchell Pearce kicked Newcastle to a 19-18 golden-point victory over Manly in his first game for the club.

St. George Illawarra opened the season with a 34-12 win over Brisbane.

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