Fans were treated to four more games in Round 19 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, with three reasonably dominant victories to home sides and a thrilling draw at North Sydney Oval. The Warriors defeated Illawarra to end a mid-season slump on their home turf, the Knights overcame an early 12-0 deficit to down the Sea Eagles and the Panthers registered a second consecutive dominant victory, thrashing the Wests Tigers 48-6. Meanwhile, the Bears escaped with a 20-all draw with Mounties, thanks to an Eli Levido penalty goal in the final minute of play.
The Warriors had all the running against Illawarra, running out to a 16-6 half-time lead and using their 56 per cent of possession to go on with the job. They were made to make the fewest tackles of any team in Round 19 (282), while their opponents missed a round-high 43 tackles - closely followed by the Sea Eagles (42) and Tigers (41), who also suffered defeats. One of the key men in the home side’s victory was Junior Pauga; the Warriors centre ran a year-high 303 metres on his way to two tries.
The Knights then took on the Sea Eagles in a clash between two sides previously favourites for the wooden spoon; the men from Newcastle, however, showed their class with a fourth consecutive win. Down 12-0 after 22 minutes, the Knights pressed on to top the weekend’s metre count (1,724) and the fewest errors and penalties (12 combined), while the Sea Eagles made a round-high 382 tackles - thanks largely to the defensive effort of captain Brendan Attwood, who came up with 51 of them. Blacktown was unable to bounce back from a thrashing in Round 18 and are now back to 11th place, with finals football now extremely unlikely.
The Panthers put forward easily the most dominant performance of the weekend - and, after a similar effort against the Sea Eagles the week before, one of the most impressive wins of the year. With the most line-breaks (8) they destroyed the Tigers, scoring 109 unanswered points across the two games. That run was ended with a late try to Jordan Grant, but the outlook is bleak for the Tigers: they made just 1,054 metres and conceded 15 penalties to remain anchored at the bottom of the ladder. The Panthers’ two big wins, of course, have come against the two bottom teams in the competition and with 10 errors they are far from perfect - but they sit in outright third position with six rounds to play.
At North Sydney Oval, it was the home side who would ultimately be pleased with a draw against Mounties, while Steve Antonelli's men will be regretting a last-minute penalty conceded to seal the result. The draw is Mounties' second and, incredibly, the sixth across the season so far - this is compared with just one across the regular season in 2016. It was a reasonably high-quality affair between two of the competition's premiership contenders, with the Bears and Mounties missing just 23 and 25 tackles respectively - the two smallest totals of the round. Statistically it was Mounties who should have got the two points, but both sides could go deep into the finals this year.
View the full stats reports from each of the games below - and stay tuned for the Round 19 Team of the Week, to be released later today.