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Panthers forward James Fisher-Harris.

There were a few glaring statistical shortcomings in Penrith's 2019 performance but arguably the most significant was a struggle to keep pace with the top teams when it came to grinding out metres through the mid-field.

The Panthers had the worst completion rate in the NRL of 73.1% but the next few worst – the Sharks (73.6%), Roosters (74.5%), Sea Eagles (75.5%) and Eels (75.6%) all made the finals and it didn't stop Penrith owning just over half of possession (50.1%) through games or camping in opposition halves for 55% of matches (second best rate after Melbourne).

It was a similar tale with penalties - the Panthers were the worst in the NRL with 189 penalties conceded but again, the top teams were in a similar spot with the Roosters and Sea Eagles (both 175), Raiders (173) and Storm (163) also in the worst six clubs.

So Ivan Cleary's men were at least in lofty company when it came to completion rates and penalties conceded.

The same was not true of the Panthers' ability to gain yardage, finishing last in the NRL for metres gained per set at 40.0 metres.

The next three lowest figures were the Titans (40.3), Cowboys (40.4) and Knights (40.9) while five of the top seven teams for metres gained per set made the finals. Premiers the Roosters were on top with 44.0.

The Panthers had plenty of hard workers in both the forwards and backs prepared to roll their sleeves up but as a unit the team did not get over the advantage line enough, providing an obvious area for improvement heading into 2020.