Three games featured in the last major bye round of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW over the weekend, with just two more byes to come next week before the finals. On Saturday afternoon, the Bears and Bulldogs were dominant over the Tigers and Jets respectively in two displays rarely seen at this level, before the Sea Eagles held on for a major upset over the Roos on Sunday.
The Bears big win over the Tigers, who are now almost certain to finish last in 2017, was highlighted by the superb five-try haul of Tautalatasi Tasi. The effort has only been replicated once in the NRL this year - by none other than Alex Johnston, who was similarly playing on the left wing for North Sydney's NRL affiliate - but it is the first time a player has achieved the feat in the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Tasi was part of a Bears side which dominated the Tigers eight tries to two and 10 line-breaks to three, missing the fewest tackles (17) of the weekend and along with Canterbury-Bankstown, having the fewest errors (five). Their 55 per cent possession rate, too, was the biggest share of any team in Round 22.
Just 10 kilometres away at the same time, the Bulldogs were proving far too strong against the Jets at Belmore Sports Ground. Newtown are hanging onto the finals race by a thread and were poor with an unforgiveable 52 missed tackles against Canterbury-Bankstown, managing just 1,247 metres and making 10 errors. The Bulldogs were not perfect, conceding four of the Jets' five tries in a 15-minute period of the second half, but the result was never really in doubt as they consolidated their place in the top four.
While both of Saturday's results were expected given the teams' ladder positions, few people saw the Sea Eagles' ambush of the Wyong Roos coming on Sunday. Blacktown took just 47 seconds to open the scoring via Jamil Hopoate, and it was the Cameron Cullen and Jackson Hastings show at Lottoland. The pair piled on all of the home side's five tries (Cullen heavily involved in the first three tries, Hastings scoring the third and setting up the final two) as the Sea Eagles made the most of their opportunities, winning on goal kicking despite making fewer metres and just two line-breaks to the Roos' four. Defensively the Sea Eagles were still questionable as well (43 missed tackles to Wyong's 23), leaving it to the halves to shine through in what was an error-riddled affair.
Sitting nicely in the top four, the Roos and Bulldogs will enjoy the final byes of the season in Round 23, before putting the final touches on their sides ahead of the finals.
View the full stats reports from each of the games below - and stay tuned for the Round 22 Team of the Week, to be released later today.