Cronulla Sharks pipped Wests Tigers to the last place in the NRL finals with a 25-8 victory at Leichhardt Oval, denying Robbie Farah a fairy-tale end to his career.

Only an unlikely draw would have sent both teams through to the elimination finals at the expense of Brisbane Broncos, and an electric start to the second half turned the game in favour of the Sharks.

Farah broke his leg just four weeks ago and only made the squad due to an injury to Corey Thompson in the warm-up, but he could not inspire a dramatic turnaround in his final match before retirement.

The Sharks will face Manly Sea Eagles in their elimination final, with the other seeing Parramatta Eels take on the Broncos.

Briton Nikora danced his way past four players to cross for an excellent try, with Shaun Johnson's penalty on the stroke of half-time the difference between the teams after Paul Momirovski kicked two goals.

Josh Morris extended Cronulla's lead five minutes after the restart, the centre pouncing when Esan Marsters failed to keep hold of Johnson's grubber kick.

An excellent offload from Jack Williams preceded Sosaia Feki going over in the left corner and the Sharks wing had his second less than three minutes later by barrelling through Momirovski.

Michael Maguire responded by sending on Farah for his first appearance since his injury and Luke Garner darted through for the Tigers' first try with 19 minutes remaining.

However, they were unable to add to their tally and Cronulla prop Paul Gallen – who will retire at the end of the season – slotted through the first drop goal of his career in the final seconds.

Nathan Cleary scored a club record 34 points as Penrith Panthers finished their season with a 54-10 thrashing of Newcastle Knights.

New South Wales Blues half-back Cleary crossed twice in each half, with Billy Burns bagging a double in just his second NRL appearance.

Brian To'o, Wayde Egan and Moses Leota also got in on the act, with Cleary converting all of Penrith's nine tries in a blistering display that was James Maloney's last outing before moving to Catalans Dragons.

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).

Craig Bellamy hailed Melbourne Storm's third minor premiership in the space of four years as their best yet.

Storm romped to a 36-6 victory over Many Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday, with Justin Olam scoring a hat-trick.

The triumph meant they were crowned minor premiers for ending the regular season as table-toppers, an achievement they also managed in 2016 and 2017.

Bellamy, though, believes his side's consistency makes this success stand out from the rest.

"I reckon this one [minor premiership] is a little more special than the others we have won," said Bellamy.

"We have only been beaten four times this year and the biggest [losing margin] is four points. That's pretty consistent and I'm really proud of this group because of that."

Storm will hope history is on their side going into the finals. In each of the last two seasons, the minor premiers have gone on to win the NRL Grand Final - Sydney Roosters achieving the feat last term after Melbourne in 2017.

It was a miserable day for the Sea Eagles, who are battling to remain inside the top four. As well as being outscored six tries to one, they believe full-back Tom Trbojevic will not be able to play again this season after suffering a pectoral injury in the defeat.

"It doesn't look good for Tom - it looks like it's a ruptured pec," coach Des Hasler said of the problem, which was sustained as Trbojevic attempted to tackle Josh Addo-Carr.

"You'd think that kind of injury would be season [ending] given the time we've got left. We'll go through the usual procedures but it's a ruptured pec.

"Given the time of the year it's disappointing, he's such a classy player. It's been one of those years for him."

Trbojevic's team-mate Morgan Boyle (shoulder) could also be out for the rest of the campaign.

There were two other games on Saturday, with the second-placed Roosters easing to a 22-6 win at the SCG that all but ended Penrith Panthers' hopes of reaching the finals, even without Cooper Cronk.

Viliame Kikau scored early on for the visitors but they did not strike again as four tries from Sydney, including one from Latrell Mitchell – who scored 10 points – settled the contest.

Newcastle Knights thumped Gold Coast Titans 38-4 to keep their faint finals hopes alive under Kristian Woolf, who has replaced Nathan Brown on an interim basis.

The Titans, who are bottom of the table, scored after three minutes through Ryley Jacks but suffered their 10th consecutive loss as they had no answer to the Knights, who ran in seven unanswered tries in impressive fashion.

Despite the win, Newcastle still need to beat Penrith next week and may even be out of contention before that match as they need other results to go their way to stand any chance of progression.

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.

Damien Cook made a superb last-ditch tackle as South Sydney Rabbitohs edged out Brisbane Broncos 22-20 in the NRL.

The Broncos looked set to grab a late winner when Corey Oates burst through the Rabbitohs line, but Cook came to the visitors' rescue at Suncorp Stadium, cutting the winger down mere centimetres from the line.

Cook's tackle capped a fine individual display from the Australia international, who set up two tries and scored what proved to be the winner on Friday.

Adam Reynolds' penalty had got Souths started, with Dane Gagai helping himself to the game's first try in the 23rd minute.

David Fifita pulled the Broncos to within touching distance, though, and after successfully adding the extras, Jamayne Isaako converted a penalty to level proceedings after the interval.

Another Reynolds penalty and a try from Cody Walker restored the Rabbitohs' lead, though, with Cook going over moments later.

Fifita doubled his tally before Kotoni Staggs' try set up a grandstand finish, but the Broncos could not find a winner.

While the Broncos remain in the top eight, Penrith Panthers missed out on the chance to overtake one of their rivals for a finals spot as they went down 24-10 to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.

The Cowboys took an early lead through Kyle Feldt, and though Brian To'o hauled the Panthers level, Murray Taulagi's try saw the hosts pull clear at half-time.

Feldt helped himself to a second after the interval, with Jason Taumalolo on hand to wrap up a comfortable victory late on, ending a five-game winless streak for the Cowboys.

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.

Brisbane Broncos secured a vital win over Penrith Panthers in the battle for an NRL finals berth, while Parramatta Eels remained in the mix for the top four.

The Broncos and the Panthers lie seventh and eighth in the ladder having traded places on Friday with Brisbane's 24-12 win moving them three points clear of the ninth-placed Cronulla Sharks, who have a game in hand.

The hosts had to recover from a dismal start at Suncorp Stadium as Jake Turpin was sent to the sin bin just seven minutes in for swinging an arm at Dylan Edwards.

But Kotoni Staggs crossed on the quarter-hour mark and the Broncos remained in front at the break despite Nathan Cleary's response, with Jamayne Isaako's penalty goal the difference between the sides.

Isaako would prove the key man for Brisbane following the restart, quickly grabbing a try and then scoring again 10 minutes later before Brian To'o hit back.

An extended scoreless stretch played into the Broncos' hands and Payne Haas went over in stunning fashion to stretch the advantage and set up a comfortable finale, even with Tevita Pangai binned for a high challenge on James Maloney.

Ahead of Brisbane, the Eels are still sixth but now level on points with the teams third, fourth and fifth after hammering strugglers Gold Coast Titans.

Waqa Blake got his first tries for the club as they eased to a 36-12 win, dealing the Titans an eighth straight defeat.

Daniel Alvaro and Manu Ma'u had Parramatta in the clear, although the lead was cut to six points at the interval as Brian Kelly crossed.

However, in a ruthless spell, Shaun Lane went through and Blake followed twice in succession. Marata Niukore scored with 10 minutes remaining meaning Jesse Arthars' consolation counted for little.

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.

South Sydney Rabbitohs' bid to catch NRL leaders Melbourne Storm was dented as they slipped to a 39-24 defeat to Cronulla Sharks.

After the Storm's massive 40-4 victory over Brisbane Broncos on Friday, the Rabbitohs needed a win to move back to within four points of the top.

But with just four games remaining in the regular season, their chances of challenging for top spot seem slim following an enthralling clash with the Sharks.

Shaun Johnson was in fine form with the boot as he kicked five conversions and two penalties for the Sharks, while Bronson Xerri helped himself to two tries.

Dane Gagai and Cameron Murray had moved South Sydney to within two points of the home side, but Xerri and Josh Morris put the Sharks - now back in the top eight - in control by the interval, with Briton Nikora's score ensuring Campbell Graham's effort was a consolation.

The Rabbitohs slip to third and could fall to fourth if Sydney Roosters beat Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Knight's NRL finals hopes took a blow after a dismal 30-6 defeat to Manly Sea Eagles.

The Knights are perennial strugglers away at Manly, and their poor form at Brookvale Oval continued as the hosts ran riot in the second half.

After going into half-time with an 8-6 lead, Manly capitalised on sloppy Knights defending to go further ahead from Joel Thompson's try.

Martin Taupau inflicted more damage soon after, and with Connor Watson wasting a great chance to haul the visitors back into the contest, Jorge Taufua and Reuben Garrick rounded off a dominant victory.

Elsewhere, Canterbury Bulldogs put distance between themselves and bottom club Gold Coast with a 16-8 win over Penrith Panthers, whose own final chances hang in the balance.

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.

Canberra Raiders put an end to Penrith Panthers' winning streak in the NRL on Sunday, while Sydney Roosters continued their recent dominance over Canterbury Bulldogs.

Penrith had won seven on the spin going into the game but found the Raiders too hot to handle at Panthers Stadium, though their cause was not helped by Dean Whare spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.

Canberra capitalised quickly on the numerical advantage with Elliott Whitehead crashing over, helping open up a 12-6 half-time lead.

The contest remained close in the second half and it was not until John Bateman finished off a breakaway try in the 74th minute that the Raiders were certain of victory on their travels.

They sit level on 26 points with the Roosters, who recorded a sixth straight win over the Bulldogs. James Tedesco, Joseph Manu and Brett Morris all scored tries in what was a comfortable victory despite the final 20-12 scoreline.

Latrell Mitchell landed all three of his conversion attempts as well as a first-half penalty as Sydney triumphed at ANZ Stadium, despite Reimis Smith crossing twice after the interval for the Bulldogs.

However, victory may have come at a cost for the reigning champions. Both Siosiua Taukeiaho and Boyd Cordner were forced off with calf injuries, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was placed on report for a high shot in the closing stages.

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.

Penrith Panthers star James Maloney will leave the NRL club at the end of the season to pursue a lucrative opportunity in the Super League.

The Panthers confirmed Maloney's looming exit on Wednesday, with the veteran playmaker to join Catalans Dragons.

New South Wales representative Maloney has signed a three-year deal with the France-based outfit after being granted a release from the final year of his Panthers contract.

The 33-year-old – who has won two NRL premierships and amassed almost 250 games – moved to Penrith from Cronulla Sharks in 2018.

"James has made no secret of his sincere desire to finish his rugby league career with a stint in the Super League," Panthers chairman Dave O'Neill said.

"Considering the outstanding service he has given to Panthers over the last two seasons and to our game over the last decade, we believe he has earned that right.

"The overseas opportunity recently offered to James, his wife Jess, and their young family is one they are genuinely excited about pursuing together.

"When we farewell James at the end of the season, we will do so knowing he has made an incredibly positive impact on our club and the next generation of players who will carry it forward."

Speaking at a news conference, Maloney told reporters: "Really excited about the opportunity, really grateful to Penrith for giving me the opportunity to take up the deal over there. Excited to finish the season off.

"It's always hard to leave anywhere because you become really good friends with the group. I've loved my time at the club and I'll look back with really good memories of my time here.

"But obviously I'm not getting any younger and the opportunity to come [to Catalans] arose and it's hard to knock back. It's always been the goal to go over in the Super League and to play at Catalans and live in France was always the preferred option.

"I've been pretty open that it's always been a goal. I'm 33 now and footy doesn't last forever and I've got a few years over there. That will finish me off and it's always been the plan.

"It probably came a year earlier than what was originally thought, but even still, we're excited about it. I've left the club in a better position than when I arrived … Hopefully the club's benefitted from having me here and I've enjoyed my time here."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.