Manly Sea Eagles have confirmed the death of 20-year-old prop Keith Titmuss, who fell ill after a training session on Monday.
Adam Blair said goodbye in style for the New Zealand Warriors while Melbourne Storm were beaten in their final NRL regular-season game.
Melbourne Storm sealed a top-two finish for the fifth straight season, while Cronulla Sharks suffered a worrying injury before the finals.
Penrith Panthers chalked up a 13th consecutive NRL win as Parramatta Eels eventually succumbed after plenty of defending.
There were NRL victories for Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders over Manly Sea Eagles and Canterbury Bulldogs respectively.
Canterbury Bulldogs were denied a fifth NRL win of the season as Wests Tigers left it late to snatch a hard-fought victory.
Brisbane Broncos' hopes of avoiding receiving the wooden spoon for the first time were not helped by a defeat to South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Nathan Cleary scored 18 points and Charlie Staines crossed twice for Penrith Panthers, while the returning John Bateman impressed.
Melbourne Storm produced a clinical second half at Brisbane Broncos to climb to the top of the NRL standings.
Parramatta Eels could not muster a fightback against Manly Sea Eagles, while South Sydney Rabbitohs also paid the price for a poor start.