Brisbane Broncos were effectively consigned to NRL's wooden spoon for the first time in their history after Kyle Feldt's hat-trick led North Queensland Cowboys to a 32-16 victory.

The Broncos missed a chance to move off the foot of the table at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday and with a points difference almost twice as bad as Canterbury Bulldogs' -180, they are all but guaranteed to finish at the bottom of the standings.

Kotoni Staggs converted Payne Haas' early try for the hosts but was forced off in the 11th minute with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

In his final match before retiring, Darius Boyd – a premiership winner with the Broncos – extended Brisbane's lead but Jake Clifford, Feldt and Justin O'Neill crossed to send the Cowboys into the break in front.

Corey Oates restored parity before the hour mark but Feldt went over twice in the space of seven minutes, taking his tally for the season to a league-high 19 tries.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow touched down with four minutes remaining following a fine break from Valentine Holmes, and Gavin Cooper, making his final appearance before hanging up his boots, added the extras as the Cowboys finished the season on a high.

Penrith Panthers secured their first NRL minor premiership in 17 years thanks to a dominant first-half showing in a 32-12 win over North Queensland Cowboys.

Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Josh Mansour and Jarome Luai all crossed as the Panthers racked up 20 unanswered points during the opening 40 minutes en route to the J.J. Giltinan Shield.

Viliame Kikau continued to pile the misery on to his former employers as he leapt to claim Nathan Cleary's kick and score four minutes into the second half.

Brent Nadan touched down in between converted consolation tries for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Kyle Feldt, with Penrith able to rest James Tamou, Api Koroisau and Zane Tetevano, casting an eye towards post-season.

Following Canterbury Bulldogs' surprise win over South Sydney Rabbitohs on Thursday, Brisbane Broncos are now the team in bottom spot after a lacklustre 26-12 defeat to the Parramatta Eels, for whom captain Clint Gutherson scored twice.

The Broncos must win the Queensland derby to have any hope of avoiding a first wooden spoon in their history, with Gold Coast Titans-bound David Fifita a major doubt for that match having been helped from the field with an ankle sprain.

Toby Rudolf's barnstorming late try dramatically helped to seal an NRL Finals berth for Cronulla Sharks and ended New Zealand Warriors' own chances in a Sunday thriller.

The Warriors had confounded the critics to challenge for a top-eight finish this season, and converted tries from Jack Murchie and Adam Pompey had seen them into a 14-12 lead with seven minutes remaining.

But with the clock ticking down, Rudolf barrelled through the Warriors defence to end their resistance, and Ronaldo Mulitalo's score in the corner in the closing stages completed a 22-14 triumph.

Consequently, the eighth-placed Sharks – thrashed 38-10 by the Newcastle Knights last week – are six points clear of a trio of teams with only two regular-season matches remaining.

The Warriors had responded to tries from Sione Katoa and Mulitalo in the opening half-hour, with Chanel Harris-Tavita's accurate boot aiding their cause, but Cronulla ultimately found a way at the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Melbourne Storm all but booked a crucial top-two finish as Cameron Munster celebrated his 26th birthday with two tries in a 36-20 triumph over the North Queensland Cowboys.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Tino Faasuamaleaui, Josh Addo-Carr and Jahrome Hughes also scored in a six-try showing as the Storm made it 11 straight wins over the Cowboys.

The Storm would have to lose each of their remaining two regular-season games to miss out on the top-two slot that would allow them to play two finals at Suncorp Stadium.

North Queensland Cowboys' Valentine Holmes scored a golden point as his side edged out St George Illawarra Dragons 23-22 to all but end the visitors' NRL Finals hopes.

Having come into Saturday's clash on the back of a nine-game losing streak, the Cowboys lifted themselves two points clear of the foot of the table in dramatic fashion.

Francis Molo had put the hosts ahead in Townsville, but tries from Euan Aitken and Mikaele Ravalawa turned things around by half-time.

Jake Clifford and the Dragons' Jacob Host exchanged tries early in the second half, before Holmes and Kyle Feldt swung the momentum back in the Cowboys' favour.

Zac Lomax's penalty levelled things up, with Corey Norman then sending a drop-goal attempt wide in added time, setting the stage for Holmes to clinch the victory.

The defeat leaves the Dragons in 11th place, six points behind the top eight.

In Sunday's earlier clash, Chanel Harris-Tavita's fine individual display was not enough for New Zealand Warriors as they went down 24-18 to Parramatta Eels.

It was a gritty performance from the Eels, who responded well to a 38-0 defeat to South Syndey Rabbitohs last time out.

Harris-Tavita scored two tries and converted six points, yet a late penalty from Mitchell Moses ensured a six-point win for the third-placed Eels.

North Queensland Cowboys have appointed New Zealand Warriors interim boss Todd Payten as their head coach on a three-year deal beginning in 2021.

Payten, 41, was previously at the Cowboys from 2015 to 2018, helping them to a maiden NRL premiership.

A veteran of 259 NRL games as a player, Payten has been at the helm of the Warriors on an interim basis since June and reportedly turned down the full-time job.

He will replace Paul Green at the Cowboys after he stepped down in July.

"I am honoured to be appointed head coach of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys," Payten said.

"I'm excited for the opportunity which lies ahead for myself and my family. Returning to this club, town and region is something which makes us extremely happy.

"I see a huge amount of upside within the Cowboys organisation and it is my job to see that eventuate into results on the field.

"Developing the players within the club to be good footballers and good men along with playing a style of football our members and supporters can be proud of will be my main focus."

The Cowboys have endured a difficult 2020 season, winning just three of 16 games.

Cowboys chairman Lewis Ramsay backed Payten, saying: "We went through a thorough process and were thrilled with the large number of exceptional candidates who expressed interest in being the next head coach of our club.

"We are delighted to bring Todd back to North Queensland and believe he is the right choice to lead our club into an exciting new chapter.

"His strong leadership abilities, the importance he places on culture and communication and the confidence he has in continuing to develop our playing group were all major factors in choosing Todd as our next head coach."

Penrith Panthers made it 11 wins in a row at the top of the NRL standings as they eased to a commanding 30-6 defeat of Wests Tigers on Saturday.

David Nofoaluma's try gave the Tigers an early lead, but Jarome Luai and Liam Martin crossed and Nathan Cleary kicked a penalty to give the hosts a 14-6 half-time advantage.

The Tigers lost Adam Doueihi to a sin bin just before the break and any lingering momentum was lost once Brian To'o marked his return from injury with a try 52 minutes in.

Further scores from Stephen Crichton and Josh Mansour sealed a win that keeps the Panthers firmly at the top, with the Tigers now down in 11th.

New Zealand Warriors are up to ninth after a similarly authoritative 36-6 win over the Newcastle Knights at Scully Park.

An even first 50 minutes, in which Adam Pompey and Gehamat Shibasaki scored first-half tries, swung the Warriors' way after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck went over for his third try in as many matches.

The home side crossed the whitewash a further four times in 17 minutes, Pompey and Tuivasa-Sheck each getting their second and George Jennings and Jazz Tevaga also touching down as David Klemmer's 150th NRL match ended with a sin bin.

Cronulla Sharks made light of injury troubles with a 28-12 defeat of North Queensland Cowboys.

Braydon Trindall, playing in only his third NRL match, kicked four out of five conversions as the Sharks ran in tries through Briton Nikora, Sione Katoa, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Siosifa Talakai and Connor Tracey.

Kyle Feldt opened and concluded the scoring for the Cowboys, who are 14th.

Newcastle Knights enjoyed a third straight NRL win against North Queensland Cowboys but lost veteran Blake Green to a potentially career-threatening injury.

The Knights were 12-0 victors against the Cowboys, stringing together three consecutive successes for the first time this year, yet Green's blow dampened the celebrations.

The 33-year-old journeyman - playing just his third Newcastle game and only under contract until the end of 2020 - was feared to have suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Five-eighth Green went down after just 18 minutes following a tackle from Jordan McLean and Justin O'Neill, and he left the field after failing in a bid to play on.

Newcastle at least made sure to claim the points and climb to sixth, as Enari Tuala's late try added to a score from Hymel Hunt that came just prior to Green's injury.

The earlier game saw New Zealand Warriors recover from a slow start to beat Canterbury Bulldogs 20-14.

The Warriors were 10-0 down midway through the first half and Canterbury added a third try just after the interval.

But Adam Pompey and Jack Murchie soon scored in quick succession to turn the game on its head and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck then crossed to seal victory.

Shaun Johnson ruled out giving evidence against Kevin Proctor after the Gold Coast Titans captain was sent off for allegedly biting him during a 30-18 win for Cronulla Sharks.

Proctor's 250th NRL appearance will not be remembered for the right reasons, as the forward was given his marching orders following an incident in the second half at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.

It was deemed after referee Henry Perenara asked the Bunker to examine footage that Proctor sunk his teeth into the arm of his New Zealand team-mate, so the 31-year-old was the first NRL player to be dismissed for biting.

Johnson, who came off with a groin injury later in the game, told Fox Sports: "Nothing happened, let's just leave it at that. We were both heated in the middle of the game and I was a bit high on him and whatever happened, happened, but we're still mates.

"It's his 250th [NRL match] and I don't want this to dampen this at all. He's been a great player for so long at Melbourne [Storm] and now Gold Coast, and he's led with his actions his whole career.

"I don't think it's appropriate and I guess this doesn't do Kevvie justice to talk about this. He's a great player and I've loved playing with him at Kiwi level and I've got nothing but respect for him."

Asked if he would testify against Proctor, Johnson replied: "No, not at all. I don't see the value of taking it any further than what's happened here today. I love him as a player and person, and I've got nothing more to say about it."

Three tries in the space of six minutes from Sione Katoa, Wade Graham and Jack Williams following Proctor's exit put the Sharks well on their way to a seventh win in nine matches.

Adam Reynolds was on target with a late penalty and a field goal after Alex Johnston grabbed a double in a dramatic 31-30 win for South Sydney Rabbitohs over North Queensland Cowboys.

Canberra Raiders put the sorry Brisbane Broncos to the sword in the final match of the day, Nick Cotric touching down twice in a 36-8 rout at GIO Stadium.

Mitchell Moses' 69th-minute penalty proved crucial as the Parramatta Eels ran out 14-12 winners against Cronulla Sharks at a soaking Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Veteran Shaun Johnson set up two of the Sharks' three tries and his playmaking was generally excellent but his failure to execute any of Cronulla's conversions proved crucial.

Dylan Brown and Kane Evans tries in either half had the Eels ahead, with Jesse Ramien's score the Sharks' only first-half points.

A quickfire double from Ronaldo Mulitalo tied up a hectic game, which saw handling errors mixed with supreme skill in torrential rain.

But ultimately it was Moses' kick after Braden Hamlin-Uele took out Reagan Campbell-Gillard off the ball that proved decisive and moved the Eels to third on the NRL ladder.

In Sunday's other NRL contest, Alexander Brimson inspired Gold Coast Titans to a 30-10 triumph over the North Queensland Cowboys.

A stunning first half saw the full-back score two tries, create another and save one at Cbus Super Stadium.

Anthony Don, Kevin Proctor, Brian Kelly, Phillip Sami also touched down in a six-try outing for the Titans, who earned the Queensland bragging rights to jump ahead of the Cowboys into 13th.

Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine have been cleared to face North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday after the Canberra Raiders pair, who refused flu vaccines, were given medical exemptions.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said in May that NRL players who chose to skip the vaccination drive would not be allowed to play in the state.

The NRL had called on all players in the competition to be vaccinated, in line with efforts to bolster its biosecurity measures during the coronavirus crisis.

Papalii said in May that the decision not to be vaccinated was "a personal thing for me and my family".

However, both he and Tapine have received the go-ahead to take part in this weekend's game.

The Raiders said in a statement: "Canberra Raiders Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine have been cleared by the Queensland Government to travel and play matches in Queensland.

"They have both received exemptions on medical grounds.

"The club will be making no further comment on this matter due to the privacy regarding the medical exemptions."

Josh Addo-Carr, Jahrome Hughes and Tino Faasuamaleaui each scored twice as Melbourne Storm raced to the top of the NRL standings with a stunning second-half display at Brisbane Broncos.

The Storm - third at the start of play - needed to win by at least 12 points to overtake Parramatta Eels at the summit and duly delivered a dominant 46-8 success.

Addo-Carr got the scoring started in the second minute, but the comfortable margin of victory seemed unlikely before half-time.

The Broncos even led briefly after Herbie Farnworth crossed and Kotoni Staggs converted before dispatching a penalty, but Cameron Smith's boot levelled matters before Hughes put Melbourne back in front.

It was one-way traffic following the restart as further tries steadily followed. Kenny Bromwich, Faasuamaleaui and Ryan Papenhuyzen each went over, followed by a stylish second for Hughes with just under a quarter of an hour to play.

Things then went from bad to worse for Brisbane when Tevita Pangai Jr kicked the ball away and was sent to the sin bin for a period in which Addo-Carr and Faasuamaleaui completed the scoring.

In the early game, Manly Sea Eagles climbed to seventh with a 24-14 success at North Queensland Cowboys.

Interim coach Josh Hannay took charge of the Cowboys for the first time, but they had a mountain to climb after Curtis Sironen crossed early and Danny Levi added a second Manly try.

Although a response came from Kyle Feldt before half-time, the Sea Eagles set up a comfortable triumph with scores from Daly Cherry-Evans and Cade Cust prior to Francis Molo's consolation.

Paul Green has stepped down as North Queensland Cowboys head coach after more than six years at the helm.

Green had been under growing pressure after overseeing seven losses in 10 NRL games this season.

But the 47-year-old, who took charge in 2014 and won the NRL premiership the following year, is leaving the post, it was announced on Monday.

"After seven years as head coach it is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement," Green said.

"The board felt that the club was at a juncture where they needed to move in a different direction, and I can only respect their views.

"Whilst this is obviously disappointing news, I am grateful to the board for allowing me to lead this club whilst creating some lifelong memories. I will use this next period to freshen up, spend some time with my family and assess options before moving on to my next coaching role."

Cowboys assistant coach Josh Hannay will be in charge for the rest of the 2020 season.

Lewis Ramsay, the Cowboys chairman, paid tribute to Green – who also helped the team reach the 2017 Grand Final before they were beaten by Melbourne Storm.

"Paul has spearheaded some remarkable achievements during his time with us and we will be forever thankful for the club-defining moments he has generated," he said.

"Two Nines trophies, two grand final appearances, a premiership, a World Club Challenge, coached three Dally M winners, all form an excellent resume for Paul to take with him as he embarks upon the next stage of his career.

"The club appreciates Paul's sincerity in choosing the best time for him to pass the baton and we wish him and his family the very best as they embark on their next journey.

"The timing of this separation now allows the club to work diligently and thoroughly through the important process of recruiting its next head coach."

Penrith Panthers went top of the NRL standings with a 22-10 win over the depleted North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday.

Nathan Cleary's decisive display at Panthers Stadium helped the hosts see off a Cowboys side granted an exemption on Friday to replace injured props Jordan McLean and John Asista.

Cowboys fans may have feared the worst when Jarome Luai scored just five minutes in, but a superb solo try from teenager Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow levelled the scores before half-time.

Another rookie, 19-year-old Daejarn Asi, put the visitors ahead early in the second half before the Panthers, led by Cleary, began to assume control.

Brent Naden's try helped restore parity and Stephen Crichton went over 10 minutes later to ease the Panthers into the lead, with Cleary adding the extras.

Cleary had the final say, a couple of dummies creating a gap for him to drive through before converting with the last kick.

In the earlier match, Cronulla Sharks put on a ruthless display as they beat New Zealand Warriors 46-10 at Central Coast Stadium.

Three tries in the first 15 minutes from Braden Hamlin-Uele, William Kennedy and Ronaldo Mulitalo set the Sharks on course for victory.

The excellent Shaun Johnson got a fourth against his former team after Ken Maumalo had put the Warriors on the board, before a brilliant Sione Katoa double and a Jesse Ramien try pushed Cronulla further ahead.

Ramien added a second of his own before Wayde Egan grabbed a consolation, as the Sharks moved into ninth, level on points with Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Matt Ikuvalu scored five tries as defending NRL premiers Sydney Roosters thrashed North Queensland Cowboys 42-16 on Thursday.

Ikuvalu had not featured since round two but was drafted into the Roosters line-up as a late replacement for Brett Morris, who suffered a groin injury in the warm-up.

The 26-year-old grasped his chance by putting in a sensational display as the Roosters ran riot in the second half in Townsville, with Ikuvalu becoming their first player to score five tries in a match since Brian Allsop against Parramatta Eels in 1955.

It was not plain sailing for the Roosters at first; Reece Robson ran in the opener for the Cowboys before Ikuvalu got his first try nine minutes later.

Sitili Tupouniua put the Roosters 12-6 up by the break, with Ikuvalu scoring twice in two minutes to complete his hat-trick shortly after the restart – the first being a phenomenal finish in the corner.

James Tedesco teed up Luke Keary for the first of a three-minute double, with Ikuvalu sliding in for another before latching onto a Keary kick for his fifth.

Coen Hess and Robson snatched consolations for the Cowboys, who were without Valentine Holmes for the second half, as the Roosters cruised up into third place.

Maika Sivo scored four tries as NRL leaders Parramatta Eels hammered North Queensland Cowboys 42-4 and there was a happy homecoming for Canberra Raiders on Friday.

The Eels showed they can cope without the injured Mitchell Moses at Bankwest Stadium, where Sivo starred and Clinton Gutherson also tormented the sorry Cowboys.

Tries from Michael Jennings, Sivo and Waqa Blake put Brad Arthur's side in command before Tom Opacic crossed to put the Cowboys on the board late in the first half.

North Queensland were unable to contain the leaders after the break, Jai Field touching down and Gutherson providing a third assist for Sivo with a pinpoint cutout pass before the wing completed his treble in the corner.

Sivo was handed a fourth try on a plate with eight minutes to play and full-back Gutherson took his tally with the boot to 14 points with a late penalty as the Eels moved two points clear at the summit.

Canberra responded to back-to-back defeats with a 22-16 defeat of St George-Illawarra Dragon in their first match at GIO Stadium since the resumption.

The Raiders, who this week confirmed John Bateman will leave at the end of the season, scored 22 points - 10 coming from Jarrod Croker - without reply but had to withstand a Dragons fightback to move up to fifth.

George Williams was among the four Raiders try-scorers, but their victory came at a cost as Iosia Soliola, Elliott Whitehead and Emre Guler joined the injury list.

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