The New Zealand Warriors and Auckland Blues have jointly announced their respective rugby codes will host a NRL and Super Rugby doubleheader in March next year.

The back-to-back games at Eden Park are believed to be a world first with Auckland’s NRL and Super Rugby teams hosting their Canberra-based counterparts for an event known as the "codes of Auckland."

Rugby League’s Warriors will host NRL grand finalists Canberra Raiders at 5pm local time before Union’s Blues will take on the two-time Super Rugby champions ACT Brumbies at 7:35pm.

The New Zealand-based duo trialled a single-ticket promotion in 2019 for games hosted on the same weekend and months of discussions have allowed the codes to unite for a blockbuster event.

"We have much in common as professional teams in international competition and we know that we have fans that follow both clubs," Warriors CEO Cameron George and Blues chairman Don Mackinnon said in a joint statement.

"Both clubs have worked together in recent years when the opportunity has arisen, and we have been trying to make this idea work for a couple of years.

"With both clubs playing Canberra teams on the same weekend, it was the perfect chance to give it a go. It's exciting and innovative and gives the Warriors and the Blues the unique opportunity to celebrate some of the best sporting entertainment that Auckland has to offer."

The event will be held on March 21 in round eight of the Super Rugby competition and round two of the NRL season.

Canberra Raiders will face minor premiers Melbourne Storm in the NRL finals after a shock loss to New Zealand Warriors, while Gareth Widdop and Jeremy Latimore bid a triumphant farewell to St George Illawarra Dragons.

The Raiders were unable to regain third position from South Sydney Rabbitohs – who will face rivals Sydney Roosters in the qualifying finals – as they went down 24-20 at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Ahead of their meeting with the Storm, Canberra will have concerns over Michael Oldfield after the wing went off with a shoulder injury sustained while touching down in the corner and making it 20-12 in the 53rd minute.

There could also be trouble for Hudson Young, who appeared to make contact with Adam Pompey's eye while attempting to stop him score a try in the 30th minute. Young served a five-match suspension for a similar offence against Canterbury Bulldogs in June. Addressing the latest incident, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said: "I know he didn't gouge the kid."

The Warriors rallied late on to secure a win, as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck polished off an incredible move after the visitors did superbly to keep the ball alive on the last tackle in the 69th minute and Blake Green ran in to complete a surprise turnaround.

Widdop converted four tries and assisted one in his final match before departing for Super League side Warrington Wolves as the Dragons defeated the Titans 24-16.

Half-back Widdop - who became the first Englishman to score 1,000 NRL points - released Ben Hunt for his second try in the space of six minutes, with Latimore coming on for the final two minutes to help Paul McGregor's side close their season with victory in his final match before retirement.

Brisbane Broncos were unable to guarantee their place in the finals as they fell to a humbling 30-14 loss at the Bulldogs.

Nick Meaney scored a hat-trick and had 22 points as the Bulldogs ended the season with another upset that means the Broncos must hope Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks do not draw on Sunday – an unlikely result that would send both teams through at Brisbane's expense.

The last spot in the NRL finals will be determined on Sunday when Cronulla Sharks visit Wests Tigers hoping to hang on to a top-eight berth.

Both the Tigers and the Sharks have 24 points each after 23 rounds, but the latter's greater points differential means they are in pole position to reach the finals.

The sixth-placed Parramatta Eels will look to leapfrog Manly Sea Eagles into fifth while Melbourne Storm, already confirmed as the minor premiership champions, will hope to round off the regular season in style when they host the North Queensland Cowboys.

We take a look at the Opta facts for the last round of NRL fixtures.

 

Thursday

South Sydney Rabbitohs (15-8) v Sydney Roosters (17-6)

- Souths are bidding to beat Sydney twice in the regular season for the first time in a decade following their triumph earlier in the campaign.

- Cody Walker (14 tries, 16 try assists) leads the way with the most try involvements in the NRL and Roosters team-mate Latrell Mitchell will also hope to reach the 30 mark, having crossed 18 times and provided 11 assists so far.

Friday

Parramatta Eels (13-10) v Manly Sea Eagles (14-9)

- This fixture has been a one-sided affair in recent years, with the Eels winning their past four home games in a row against the Eagles by an average margin of 19 points per contest.

- Kane Evans will bring up a landmark 100th appearance for Parramatta.

 

Melbourne Storm (19-4) v North Queensland Cowboys (9-14)

- Though Melbourne have won their past nine successive games against the Cowboys, six of those wins have come by a margin of eight points or fewer.

- The Storm have missed just 27 tackles per game in this year's NRL, fewer than any other team in the competition.

Saturday

Canberra Raiders (15-8) v New Zealand Warriors (8-1-14)

- Canberra beat the Warriors 46-12 earlier in the season and have been victorious in five of their previous seven meetings.

- The Warriors have conceded 40-plus points in three of their past five NRL games having done so only once in their previous 35 games. 

 

Canterbury Bulldogs (9-14) v Brisbane Broncos (11-1-11)

- The home team has won the past seven times the Bulldogs have met the Broncos.

- Brisbane players have made 901 tackle breaks this season, 83 more than any other team and 287 more than the Bulldogs.

Gold Coast Titans (4-19) v St George-Illawarra Dragons (7-16)

- Dragons star Gareth Widdop needs just five more points to reach 1,000 in the NRL.

- Each of the past three meetings between these two have been won by the Dragons, who have outscored the Titans 136-52 in that time.

 

Sunday

Wests Tigers (11-12) v Cronulla Sharks (11-12)

- The Sharks are on a five-match winning streak against the Tigers, their longest run of victories against them.

- Benji Marshall is one of just three players to average more than one assist per game having set up 19 tries in 18 appearances.

 

Penrith Panthers (10-13) v Newcastle Knights (10-13)

- Though they have only led in four of their past 10 NRL games against the Knights, the Panthers have won on eight occasions.

- However, Newcastle have scored 12 tries in the opening 10 minutes of NRL games this season, the second-most of any team in the competition (behind the Sydney Roosters).

South Sydney Rabbitohs remain well-placed for a top-four finish in the NRL after easing past the New Zealand Warriors 31-10 in Auckland, while Brisbane Broncos edged Parramatta Eels 17-16 in golden point to boost their finals chances.

Rabbitohs moved up to third from fifth thanks to the victory, in which Cameron Murray and Adam Reynolds played starring roles.

The hosts lost centre Patrick Herbert to injury in the warm-up and Chanel Harris-Tavita early in the second half, doing little to help their cause.

Herbert's replacement Adam Pompey went over for his first NRL try in the 34th minute, and that was followed soon after by Ken Maumalo touching down, leaving Rabbitohs with a slender 14-10 lead at the interval.

But Warriors failed to register a single point in the second period, with Reynolds taking his points total to 15, made up of four conversions, three penalty goals and a field goal in the last minute.

Murray's brace of tries came either side of Alex Johnston's solitary effort, with Dane Gagai getting in on the act 10 minutes from time.

Jamayne Isaako got the decisive score for Broncos in Brisbane, despite visitors Eels outscoring them 3-2 in the try stakes.

However, Eels were unable to count on the reliable kicking of Isaako, who converted both his attempts for Broncos, added two penalty goals and sealed victory late on.

David Fifita's powerful run opened up the play to Isaako, who, a minute after seeing a field goal effort come back off the post, made no mistake second time around.

They go seventh thanks to the victory, with one match left of the regular season.

High-flying Melbourne Storm look set for a test as they travel to Manly Sea Eagles in the latest round of NRL fixtures.

The Storm sit at the top of the ladder and have a good record at Manly, but the Sea Eagles are fourth themselves and have pushed Melbourne close in previous meetings.

We take a look at that match and more – including a Sydney Cricket Ground double-header – with these Opta facts.

 

Thursday

North Queensland Cowboys (8-14) v Canterbury Bulldogs (9-13)

- The Bulldogs have won four of their past six NRL games against the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium, including a 27-10 victory in their most recent game there.

- Canterbury have conceded 19 penalties for stealing the ball in NRL 2019, more than any other team in the competition.

Friday

New Zealand Warriors (8-1-13) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (14-8)

- The Rabbitohs have won eight of their past nine NRL games against the Warriors, including their last two on the bounce.

- The New Zealand outfit have conceded 40 or more points in a game on four occasions in NRL 2019 – including three times in their past four games – while the last time they did so more in a single season was 2004 (seven times).

Brisbane Broncos (10-1-11) v Parramatta Eels (13-9)

- Each of the past eight NRL games between the Broncos and the Eels at Suncorp Stadium has been won by the team holding the half-time lead on the day, with each side winning four times in that span.

- Mitchell Moses has made 82 kicks in play that have been retained by a team-mate in this NRL campaign, more than any other player in the competition.

Saturday

Newcastle Knights (9-13) v Gold Coast Titans (4-18)

- The Titans have won five of their last seven NRL games against the Newcastle Knights; however, their two defeats in that span have come in their most recent two clashes at McDonald Jones Stadium.

- Gold Coast have been awarded 168 penalties in NRL 2019, more than any other team in the competition and 16 more than the Newcastle Knights.

Manly Sea Eagles (14-8) v Melbourne Storm (18-4)

- The Storm have won four of their past five NRL games against the Sea Eagles at Lottoland; two of those wins coming by a margin of just one point on the day.

- Martin Taupau (350 carries, 620 tackles) is the only player thus far in NRL 2019 to have made 350 carries and 350 tackles.

Sydney Roosters (16-6) v Penrith Panthers (10-12)

- This will be the Panthers' first NRL game at the Sydney Cricket Ground since a 2010 loss to the Wests Tigers; it is a venue where the Roosters have won their past seven NRL games in a row by an average margin of 32 points.

- The Panthers are one of only three teams (also Sea Eagles, Storm) to have had more than one forward start in every one of their 22 games so far this season (James Fisher-Harris, James Tamou).

Sunday

Cronulla Sharks (11-11) v Canberra Raiders (14-8)

- Ten of the past 12 NRL games between the Sharks and the Raiders have been won by the away team on the day.

- Josh Morris has scored seven tries in his past seven NRL games and has a season tally of 13 – his most in a season since 2012 (17).

St George Illawarra Dragons (7-15) v Wests Tigers (10-12)

- The Dragons have won three of their past four NRL games against Wests, as well as having won the only previous meeting between the two teams at the Sydney Cricket Ground (13-12 in 2013).

- St George have made 40 or more tackle breaks in each of their past two NRL games against the Tigers, a mark they have managed to hit just three times so far in NRL 2019.

elbourne Storm can seal the minor premiership this week as the NRL season heads towards its conclusion.

The Storm are four points clear with three games to play and face bottom side Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

A win in that game and defeat for Sydney Roosters at St George Illawarra Dragons will see Melbourne clinch top spot, while third-placed Canberra Raiders take on fourth-placed Manly Sea Eagles in a crucial clash between two teams out to ensure they cannot be eliminated in the first round of the Finals.

Here we look at the best Opta facts for this round of fixtures.

Thursday

Parramatta Eels (13-8) v Canterbury Bulldogs (8-13)

- The Bulldogs have made the most offloads (287) of any NRL team this year, 21 more than the Eels (266).

- Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels) has made the most try assists (20) of any half-back this season.

Friday

North Queensland Cowboys (7-14) v Penrith Panthers (10-11)

- The Panthers have retained the most kicks (145) of any team, 29 more than the Cowboys (116).

- Michael Morgan has had six try involvements (two tries, four assists) from his last four NRL matches against the Panthers.

Brisbane Broncos (10-1-10) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (13-8)   

- The Broncos have made the most tackle breaks (822) of any team this season, 146 more than the Rabbitohs (676).

- South Sydney are one of two teams – along with the Storm – to have more than one player inside the top 13 for try assists this season (Damien Cook on 22 and Cody Walker on 14).

Saturday

Cronulla Sharks (10-11) v New Zealand Warriors (8-1-12)   

- Six of the last seven NRL games between Cronulla and the Warriors have been decided by a margin of four points or fewer, including a 19-18 win for the New Zealanders in their last meeting.

- The Sharks have won six of their last eight NRL matches on home soil (L2), despite leading at half time only three times in that span.

Wests Tigers (9-12) v Newcastle Knights (9-12)  

- The Knights have scored 37 tries through the middle-third of the field, only the Storm (45) have got more through that corridor this term. 

- Luke Brooks (Tigers) has had eight try involvements (three tries, five try assists) from his last six NRL matches against the Knights. 

St George Illawarra Dragons (7-14) v Sydney Roosters (15-6)   

- The Dragons have made the most tackles per game (369) of any team in NRL this year, 30 more than the Roosters (339).

- The Roosters' trio of James Tedesco (11), Latrell Mitchell (8) and Victor Radley (7) have made the most supported breaks of all players this season.

Sunday

Melbourne Storm (17-4) v Gold Coast Titans (4-17)  

- The Titans have scored the joint-most tries (five, also Manly Sea Eagles) on the zero tackle in a set of any NRL team in 2019.

- Cameron Munster (Storm) has had 10 try involvements (six tries, four assists) from his six NRL matches against the Titans.


Canberra Raiders (14-7) v Manly Sea Eagles (13-8)   

- The Raiders have scored the joint-most tries (21, also the Roosters) in the first 20 minutes of matches of any team this season.

- Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly) has had 12 try involvements (five tries, seven assists) from his last eight NRL matches against Canberra.

Bronson Xerri's contentious late try proved decisive as Cronulla Sharks boosted their NRL finals hopes with an 18-12 victory over St George-Illawarra Dragons.

Xerri charged over with five minutes remaining on Sunday after latching onto a high kick from Shaun Johnson.

The try was awarded, though Cronulla had to wait for confirmation it would stand as the video referee checked for a touch from Sharks' second-rower Wade Graham.

Cronulla's luck was in, however, with Johnson adding the extras to wrap up a win that moves the Sharks into the top eight, while the Dragons' have no realistic hope of making the finals.

Aaron Woods had got things started for the Sharks in the 17th minute, with Sosaia Feki swiftly doubling the home side's lead, but tries from Jackson Ford and Luciano Leilua either side of half-time had restored parity.

There was less drama at the SCG as second-place Sydney Roosters cruised to a 42-6 victory over New Zealand Warriors.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's second-minute effort put the Warriors ahead, but Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu put 2018 premiers Roosters in front by half-time.

Luke Keary's try had Sydney in complete control shortly after the interval and the hosts did not look back from there - James Tedesco, Brett Morris and Mitchell Aubusson all crossing over in the space of seven minutes.

Mitchell - who only kicked four of eight attempted conversions - helped himself to a second try soon after, before Daniel Tupou added further gloss late on.

The SCG has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Sydney Roosters.

The reigning champions will face a team that has caused them problems though, with New Zealand Warriors their opponents.

Melbourne Storm, six points clear of the Roosters at the top of the table, could potentially wrap up the minor premiership this weekend and they face Canberra Raiders.

We take a look at the key statistics, courtesy of Opta, ahead of round 22.

Thursday

Manly Sea Eagles (12-8) v Wests Tigers (9-11)

- Wests are on a four-game winning streak against Manly, even though they have only led once at half-time across those victories.

- Manly have missed just 27 tackles per game in this season's NRL, the fewest of any team in the competition.

Friday

Gold Coast Titans (4-16) v Parramatta Eels (12-8)

- The Titans have not lost a home game to the Eels since 2014, with each of the past half a dozen matches between the two won by the team hosting the fixture.

- No team has gained more metres per restart than the Eels, who have accrued 12.3m.

Brisbane Broncos (9-1-10) v Penrith Panthers (10-10)

- Brisbane wing Corey Oates has made five successful interceptions in 2019, two more than any other player.

- The Broncos have only suffered only two regular-time defeats to Penrith in their previous 13 meetings.

Saturday

Newcastle Knights (8-12) v North Queensland Cowboys (7-13)

- The Cowboys are on their longest winning streak against the Knights having won four in a row.

- They will need to be mindful of Shaun Kenny-Dowall, though, given he has scored five tries in his past seven NRL appearances.

Melbourne Storm (17-3) v Canberra Raiders (13-7)

- Melbourne will win the minor premiership if they beat Canberra and the Roosters lose to the Warriors on Sunday.

- The Storm have won their last five successive NRL games against the Raiders, conceding an average of just 10 points per match in that span.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (13-7) v Canterbury Bulldogs (7-13)

- Souths are on a four-game winning streak against the Bulldogs, their longest sequence since an eight-match run between 1967 and 1969.

- After scoring a hat-trick for the Rabbitohs last time out, Campbell Graham took his tally to six scores in his previous five appearances.

Sunday

Sydney Roosters (14-6) v New Zealand Warriors (8-1-11)

- The Warriors have lost only three of their past 10 NRL games against the Roosters in New South Wales, yet they have lost nine of their previous 10 contests played on a Sunday.

- Trent Robinson's Roosters have won six on the bounce at the SCG, scoring an average of 40 points per game in that span.

Cronulla Sharks (9-11) v St George-Illawarra Dragons (7-13)

- Only the Raiders (16) have scored more tries from kicks this year than the Sharks (14).

- Cronulla's Shaun Johnson needs 11 more points to reach 1,000 in NRL, a milestone that only six active players have reached.

Debutant Matt Burton and Nathan Cleary sparkled as Penrith Panthers secured a shock 26-20 NRL win over Cronulla Sharks and New Zealand Warriors upset Manly Sea Eagles on Friday.

Burton was given special dispensation to replace the suspended James Maloney and took full advantage of his opportunity at Panthers Stadium.

The playmaker, one of three teenage debutants for Penrith, set up the opening try of the match for Brent Naden with a clever kick and looked very much at home on the big stage, having started the season in the Under-20s.

Dylan Edwards scored a try in each half and influential halfback Cleary went over just before the break, also scoring a penalty and nailing all four conversion attempts.

Cronulla managed four tries of their own, but those scores from Wade Graham, Jack Williams, Josh Morris and Sosaia Feki were in vain as they slipped to ninth and Panthers moved two places above them.

Manly arrived at Mt Smart Stadium full of confidence with six wins in their past seven games, but they were beaten 24-16 by the Warriors. 

Ken Maumalo bagged a double, while Ligi Sao and Jazz Tevaga also crossed in a strong showing from Stephen Kearney's men.

Manly rallied from 18-0 down with 15 minutes to go, but they lost Adam Blair after Brad Parker suffered a knee injury on what proved to be a painful outing.

An exciting week of NRL action sees the top four teams face off on Sunday.

Round 21 concludes with Melbourne Storm travelling to South Sydney Rabbitohs, who sit in fourth, with their clash following on from third-placed Canberra Raiders taking on second-placed Sydney Roosters.

The Storm may face a tricky test but history weighs heavily in their favour.

We bring you all the best Opta facts from those two fixtures and the rest of the NRL games coming up.

Thursday

North Queensland Cowboys (7-12) v Brisbane Broncos (8-1-10)

- The Broncos have won their past three NRL matches against the Cowboys, their best run in this fixture since a seven-match streak from July 2007 to August 2010.

- The Cowboys have scored 12 tries in the final 10 minutes of the first half of NRL matches in 2019, the most of any team.

Friday

New Zealand Warriors (7-1-11) v Manly Sea Eagles (12-7)

- Six of the Warriors' past seven matches have been decided by four points or fewer, though they have recorded three victories in those close encounters.

- Manly have scored six tries starting from a kick-off in 2019, the most of any team. They also have the forward with the most carries in the competition, with Martin Taupau registering 299 so far.

Penrith Panthers (9-10) v Cronulla Sharks (9-10)

- The Sharks have won 12 of their past 14 NRL matches against the Penrith Panthers, including the previous seven on the bounce.

- Penrith's Nathan Cleary has scored two tries, provided an assist and not missed a single goal attempt (nine from nine) in his past three NRL matches against the Sharks.

Saturday

St George Illawarra Dragons (6-13) v Gold Coast Titans (4-15)

- The Titans have scored 16 tries in NRL 2019 after the opposition has made an error, the second most of any team in this campaign when starting a set in the same fashion.

- Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes has made the most tackles (932) of any player in 2019.

Parramatta Eels (11-8) v Newcastle Knights (8-11)

- The Knights have won 11 of their past 13 NRL matches against the Eels, including the most recent four games in that span.

- Parramatta have scored 13 tries in 2019 from their own half of the field, the second most of all teams this term from that range. Sydney Roosters top the list with 14.

Canterbury Bulldogs (6-13) v Wests Tigers (9-10)

- The Bulldogs have kept Wests scoreless in the first half of their past two meetings, winning on both occasions. Canterbury have triumphed in four of their past six clashes.

- The Tigers have scored 21 tries on the sixth tackle, the most of any team this year.

Sunday

Canberra Raiders (13-6) v Sydney Roosters (13-6)

- The Roosters have scored the most tries (84) of any team in 2019, 11 more than the Raiders (73) who have scored the third most.

- Canberra’s Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (1193) and James Tedesco of the Roosters (975) have made the most metres from kick returns of all players.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (13-6) v Melbourne Storm (16-3)

- The Storm have won 20 of their past 23 NRL matches against the Rabbitohs, including their most recent encounter last September by a single point (29-28).

- The Rabbitohs' Damien Cook has made the most try assists (22) of any player, seven more than Cameron Munster for Melbourne.

Cameron Smith was in scintillating form as Melbourne Storm thrashed Brisbane Broncos 40-4 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

Veteran hooker Smith played a role in three tries and added one of his own as NRL leaders Melbourne surged to their seventh straight win over the Broncos.

Josh Addo-Carr got the Storm off the mark before Smith produced a magical reverse pass out of dummy half to send Christian Welch through in the 29th minute.

The Melbourne captain forced a goal-line drop-out with a brilliant 40-metre kick and Kenny Bromwich found the corner from the following set to give the visitors an 18-0 half-time lead.

There was no let-up after the restart as Smith converted Jahrome Hughes' try and added a penalty, before Justin Olam's incredible offload preceded Bromwich exchanging passes with Addo-Carr for the prop's second.

Smith touched down after a phenomenal dummy from Olam and the 36-year-old combined with Cameron Munster to send Ryan Papenhuyzen through as the Storm ran riot.

Kotoni Staggs powered through for the Broncos' consolation try after an impressive run from James Segeyaro.

The Broncos sit ninth and their hopes of reaching the Finals were helped by Canberra Raiders defeating New Zealand Warriors 46-12.

Iosia Soliola, Josh Papalii, Michael Oldfield, Bailey Simonsson and Joseph Tapine all crossed for Canberra in a one-sided first half.

Chanel Harris-Tavita's double after the restart was not enough to get the Warriors back in it, with Simonsson touching down again before Josh Hodgson – making his 100th NRL appearance – and Jack Wighton got in on the act.

The Raiders move up to second in the standings, temporarily at least, while the Warriors will need a rapid improvement if they are to advance to the Finals.

Josh Hodgson is set to make a landmark NRL appearance when Canberra Raiders take on New Zealand Warriors on Friday.

The former Hull KR and Hull FC man has played for the Raiders since 2015 and will be looking to propel his side to victory on his 100th league outing in Australia.

A win for the Raiders would see them - temporarily at least - move level with second-placed South Sydney Rabbitohs on 28 points.

We take a look at round 20's key statistics, courtesy of Opta.

Thursday

West Tigers (8-10) v North Queensland Cowboys (7-11)

- The Tigers have won their last six NRL games on the bounce against North Queensland at Leichhardt Oval, including a 20-12 victory when they last met at the venue in 2018.

- The Cowboys have made 12 or more errors in each of their last five NRL matches against the Tigers.

Friday

New Zealand Warriors (7-1-10) v Canberra Raiders (12-6)

- Including a 20-16 win in their last meeting in Auckland, the Warriors have won 10 of their last 13 NRL games against the Raiders on home turf.

- Jarrod Croker has scored 17 tries in 17 games against the Warriors – including five in his last five – making it his best tally against any single opponent in the NRL.

Brisbane Broncos (8-1-9) v Melbourne Storm (15-3)

- Andrew McCullough of the Broncos has played the most minutes (1,068) of any player to have made one error or fewer in the NRL this year.

- The Storm have won 16 of their last 18 NRL meetings with Brisbane and the last six in a row.

Saturday

Manly Sea Eagles (11-7) v Newcastle Knights (8-10)

- The last time Manly conceded 20 points or more in an NRL match against Newcastle was in 2012. They have won seven of the nine games since then.

- Tom Trbojevic has been directly involved in 1.7 tries per game in the NRL this season, the most of any player to have played more than one match.

Canterbury Bulldogs (5-13) v Penrith Panthers (9-9)

- Reimis Smith of the Bulldogs has made 66 quick play-the-balls this NRL season, 12 more than any other player and 23 more than the Panthers' Josh Mansour (43).

- The Panthers have won four of their last five clashes with the Bulldogs, despite having led at half-time only once in that run.

Cronulla Sharks (8-10) v South Sydney Rabbitohs (13-5)

- Only the Storm (9) have scored more tries after forcing a line drop-out in this season than the Sharks (8).

- The Rabbitohs' Damien Cook has made a league-high 21 try assists this year.

Sunday

Sydney Roosters (12-6) v Gold Coast Titans (4-14)

- The Roosters have won their last four straight games - and six of their last seven - against the Titans.

- Michael Gordon may be key if the NRL's bottom club - who have announced Justin Holbrook as their coach for 2020 - are to get anything against the Roosters. He has a goal-kicking success rate of 88 per cent this campaign.

St George Illawarra Dragons (6-12) v Parramatta Eels (10-8)

- The Eels have won eight of their previous nine NRL matches against the Dragons.

- The Dragons are the NRL's top tacklers this season, having made 371 per game, 30 more than the Eels.

NRL leaders Melbourne Storm saw their winning streak come to an end in dramatic fashion on Saturday, while there were contrasting victories for Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos.

Daly Cherry-Evans kicked a golden-point winner for Manly Sea Eagles as Melbourne were beaten for the first time since a 20-18 reverse to Cronulla Sharks on May 3.

Joel Thompson's try and six points from Reuben Garrick's boot put Manly 10-0 up at the break, only for Melbourne - looking for a 10th victory in a row - to hit back, aided by tries from Will Chambers and Brandon Smith.

Both teams saw drop-goal attempts kept out by the posts in the additional period, but Cherry-Evans landed the crucial kick in the 89th minute.

Heartbreaking.

But always #MelbourneProud pic.twitter.com/jHZyiIpsG1

— Melbourne Storm (@storm) July 27, 2019

Manly had beaten Parramatta in the previous round, but the Eels bounced back against New Zealand Warriors, albeit only after surviving a late scare at Bankwest Stadium.

Both teams scored four tries and kicked three conversions, with the ultimate difference a 53rd-minute penalty by Mitchell Moses.

The Warriors had the opportunity to snatch victory when awarded a penalty deep in Parramatta territory in the closing stages, yet the Eels held on to record a 24-22 triumph, their fourth in five outings.

Brisbane, meanwhile, moved into the top eight in the standings with a 34-12 thrashing of Gold Coast Titans. Kotoni Staggs crossed for two of Brisbane's four first-half tries, helping open up a 28-6 advantage.

It was an eventful game for Michael Gordon, who spent 10 minutes in the sin bin before scoring a try and kicking two conversions for the struggling Titans.

Robbie Farah is expected to join the NRL's 300-appearances club when Wests Tigers face Newcastle Knights this weekend.

The 35-year-old will become the 39th player to reach the milestone if he features for Wests at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

Newcastle start the 19th round in eighth place, but they will be hoping to get back on track after losing three in a row.

We take a look at the week's key statistics, courtesy of Opta.

Thursday

Cronulla Sharks (7-10) v North Queensland Cowboys (7-10)

- The Sharks have won six of their last eight NRL games against the Cowboys and are bidding for a third successive success after scoring 70 points in the past two victories.

- No other forward has made more line breaks than Cronulla's Briton Nikora, who has managed 11 this season.

Friday

Newcastle Knights (8-9) v Wests Tigers (7-10)

- Farah scored a try and provided an assist in his last game against the Knights.

- His team-mate Luke Brooks has been in fine form against the Knights having been directly involved in 10 tries (four tries and six assists) in his previous eight appearances.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (12-5) v St George Illawarra Dragons (6-11)

- After a run of just three wins in 17 against the Dragons, the Rabbitohs have now won 12 of their last 15 meetings.

- South Sydney's Cameron Murray has scored the opening try on four occasions in 2019, the joint-most of any player along with Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell.


Saturday

Parramatta Eels (9-8) v New Zealand Warriors (7-1-9)

- The Warriors are bidding to avoid defeat for a fifth straight game away from home, a sequence they last managed in 2002.

- However, the Eels have won five of their six NRL matches at Bankwest Stadium by an average margin of 22 points per game.

Gold Coast Titans (4-13) v Brisbane Broncos (7-1-9)

- Bryce Cartwright is set to play his 100th NRL game for Gold Coast, who have won two of their last three games against the Broncos.

- Brisbane's Tevita Pangai Junior has made 48 offloads this season, five more than any other player.

Melbourne Storm (15-2) v Manly Sea Eagles (10-7)

- Melbourne claimed a thrilling one-point victory in the last clash between the two in 2018, the fourth time in the past five matches they have been victorious.

- The Storm's back three have made only 36 errors in 2019, five fewer than the back three of any other team in the NRL.


Sunday

Canterbury Bulldogs (5-12) v Sydney Roosters (11-6)

- While the Roosters have scored 11 opening tries this season, the Bulldogs (five) have the fewest in the NRL.

- Sydney are on a five-game winning sequence against the Bulldogs and have won nine of the last 11.

Penrith Panthers (9-8) v Canberra Raiders (11-6)

- Penrith will equal a club record set in 2003 if they can beat Canberra and record an eighth straight win.

- Brent Naden has scored six tries in as many games since making his NRL debut in round 12. Only Josh Dugan and Ken Maumalo (seven each) have touched down more often in that time.

Nathan Cleary sparkled on his return as Penrith Panthers extended their winning run to seven NRL matches with a 40-18 rout of St. George Illawarra Dragons, while New Zealand Warriors edged out Cronulla Sharks.

Cleary recovered from an ankle injury that ruled him out of the State of Origin decider to pull the strings in an emphatic victory at Panthers Stadium on Friday.

The halfback and James Maloney linked up brilliantly as the Dragons were blown away in the second half, having only trailed 16-12 at the break.

Cleary scored one of seven Penrith tries and was on target with six out of seven strikes from the tee on a miserable night for Paul McGregor's men, who have lost three in a row and missed the rested Ben Hunt.

Brian To'o and Brent Naden grabbed doubles, while Moses Leota and Reagan Campbell-Gillard also touched down in a scintillating second-half display from play-off hopefuls Penrith.

Mikaele Ravalawa, Josh Kerr and Paul Vaughan crossed for a Dragons side put to the sword.

Blake Green's drop goal six minutes from time gave the Warriors a 19-18 win over Cronulla at Westpac Stadium.

Green won it with his boot after he and Kodi Nikorima contributed tries, with scores from Briton Nikora, Chad Townsend and Sosaia Feki unable to prevent Cronulla from slipping to a fifth successive defeat.

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