The biggest stories of the weekend across the NSWRL's five junior representative competitions.
Barker steals win from Bulldogs
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have overcome an 18-point deficit to produce an unlikely victory over Canterbury-Bankstown, sealed by an Ella Barker try just four minutes from full-time.
Bulldogs’ second-rower Indee Brown helped her side to a strong start with consecutive tries in the first six minutes of play. A further two four-pointers by the 13-minute mark - courtesy of Leilani Wilson and Addyson Winterstein - saw the home side with a seemingly unassailable lead.
The Sharks showed no signs of giving up, however, as the in-form Jaime Chapman scored a double either side of halftime before a 52nd-minute try for Tayla Beckett kept the visitors within striking range.
With five minutes remaining, it was fullback Ella Barker who crossed over to level the scores as a Tia Hinds conversion capped off a memorable win in the Tarsha Gale Cup.
Puru’s boot gets point for Panthers
Penrith have shared the two competition points with Manly Warringah at Brookvale Oval in the SG Ball Cup, thanks to Niwhai Puru’s final-minute sideline conversion.
The contest was always a close encounter as both teams went blow for blow until the full-time whistle. Panthers’ No. 1 Sunia Turuva opened the scoring in the 3rd minute before the home side responded soon after with two tries. Penrith hit back 10 minutes from the break for an 8-all halftime score.
The Panthers inched ahead again early in the second half, but the Sea Eagles managed three tries in the next 15 minutes to give them the biggest lead of the match.
The two-try buffer was ultimately not enough for Manly Warringah as Penrith scored twice in the final 10 minutes. Then it all came down to five-eighth Niwhai Puru, eight metres in from touch, who nailed the conversion to earn a draw for the Panthers.
Rams, Panthers continue perfect start
The Western Rams and Penrith Panthers are the only remaining undefeated teams after two rounds of the Andrew Johns Cup.
Penrith have amassed 66 points in that time after a 26-0 win against the Riverina Bulls - which included a David Afu hat-trick - while the Rams fought back for a 12-point victory over Monaro at Belconnen.
The results for these teams will make for interesting viewing next week as both sides are pitted against each other at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Oval in what will be an early test of their 2020 premiership credentials.
De Groot scores four in 50-point haul
Fullback Jaylan De Groot crossed the try line on four occasions against the Knights as the Northern Rivers Titans hit the half-century mark in a 52-16 victory at Ballina on Saturday.
It took just two minutes for De Groot to score the opener, evading three defenders in the attacking zone and reaching out for the line.
He later secured his hat-trick after 20 minutes of play with back-to-back tries - snatching an offload from 20 metres out then backing up in support to score under the posts for his third.
As the Titans approached the 50-point tally, it was only fitting that De Groot rounded out the try scoring for the home side by producing a fourth four-pointer to complete a stellar individual performance in the Laurie Daley Cup.
Knights’ title defence begins
After a disappointing loss to the Sea Eagles in their opening game as reigning Harold Matthews Cup champions, the Newcastle Knights’ title defence is back on track with a 34-10 win over the Steelers at Wollongong.
Despite conceding the first four-pointer of the contest to Illawarra centre Bryden Rutledge, the Knights made a dominant reply with 28 unanswered points in as many minutes from the moment Ethan Ferguson crossed over.
The Steelers scored their second at the 52-minute mark through Noah Guyatt before Newcastle’s Mayson Metcalf added to the visitors’ tally on the way to a 24-point victory.
It was a true team effort from the Knights to open their 2020 campaign with seven different try scorers from as many tries scored in their Round 3 win.