Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 15
THE Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back from a one-point defeat to the Panthers before the Origin break in the opening game of round 15. Tony Durkin looks ahead to the clash with the Tigers at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday night plus all the other games, in what promises to be a cracking round of NRL.
TIGERS V RABBITOHS
Bankwest Stadium, Thursday, 7.50pm
History: Played 33, Rabbitohs 18, Tigers 15
Last met: Rabbitohs 32-16, round 11, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $2.60, Rabbitohs $1.48
Adam Reynolds and Braidon Burns are named to return for the Rabbitohs, but Wayne Bennett's team will again field only one Burgess brother for this key clash against the Tigers, who have axed Ben Matulino. While the Rabbits sit comfortably in equal second, on the back of three successive losses they need to get back to a settled combination. And despite a health scare with skipper Moses Mbye last week, the Tigers are back to full strength.
TIP - Rabbitohs
DRAGONS V COWBOYS
WIN Stadium, 6pm
History: Played 31, Cowboys 16, Dragons 15
Last met: Cowboys 24-12, round 1, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $1.48, Cowboys $2.60
With nine of their NRL squad already sidelined, the Cowboys did not need the news that back-up dummy half Kurt Baptiste would miss the remainder of the season after being injured on duty for PNG. With Josh McGuire suspended, coach Paul Green will hope that skipper Michael Morgan lines up against the Dragons - and plays much better than he did for the Maroons. The Dragons have their own injury concerns, but their Origin trio is right to go in a match that could well decide the premiership fate of the vanquished.
TIP - Dragons
ROOSTERS V STORM
Adelaide Oval, 7.55pm (AEST)
History: Played 37, Storm 20, Roosters 17
Last met: Roosters 21-20, round 6, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.95, Storm $1.85
Start the engines, fasten the seatbelts and sit back and watch - this should be as good as it gets. Grand finalists from last season and, despite a couple of uncharacteristic glitches from the Roosters, it's the two best teams in the competition clashing on foreign soil in what promises to be a belter if the past two matches in Adelaide are a guide. Both times a field goal separated these heavyweights in a win apiece. Much depends on the battering the respective rep players took at the weekend but, all being equal, the Storm should get home - just.
TITANS V SEA EAGLES
Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm
History: Played 19, Sea Eagles 10, Titans 9
Last met: Titans 36-18, round 11, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Titans $2.48, Sea Eagles $1.53
When these sides met just four rounds ago, the Titans handed the Sea Eagles an attacking lesson. But that was the Sea Eagles without the inspirational Tom Trbojevic, who has been simply sensational in his past two outings. Although the Sea Eagles hold an overall winning record against the Titans and also have the wood on them at the Gold Coast, the Titans have won four of the past five clashes.
TIP - Sea Eagles
KNIGHTS V BRONCOS
McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.30pm
History: Played 48, Broncos 33, Knights 14, drawn 1
Last met: Knights 15-10, round 5, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Knights $1.65, Broncos $2.24
As a number of rep players are uncertain starters, any genuine forecast on this result cannot be made until match eve. But if the two most recent performances from the Broncos is a guide, they are no hope. The Knights may have stumbled against the Storm last round, but on the back of their six straight wins before that they look the real deal. If the doubtful trio of Ponga, Pearce and Klemmer saddle up, this looms as yet another sad evening for Broncos fans.
TIP - Knights
EELS V RAIDERS
History: Played 57, Raiders 31, Eels 26
Last met: Raiders 19-nil, round 5, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Eels $2.10, Raiders $1.72
Each time Josh Hodgson lines up for the Raiders, his teammates seemingly grow an extra leg - and that will again be the case in Darwin at the weekend when he returns from a four-week injury lay-off. Sitting fourth on the ladder, the Raiders have only two players backing up from the rep weekend, while the Eels have nine - a major disadvantage. The Eels have been up and down all season, and if they stay true to form this weekend, a downer is on the cards.
TIP - Raiders
WARRIORS V PANTHERS
Mt Smart Stadium, 2pm (AEST)
History: Played 43, Panthers 24, Warriors 18, drawn 1
Last met: Warriors 30-10, round 10, 2019
Ladbrokes odds: Warriors $1.60, Panthers $2.32
Since the Warriors hammered the Panthers in round 10 to inflict their sixth successive loss, Penrith seemingly awoke from a slumber and have since won four on the trot. With both teams just two points out of the top eight and a win critical, the Panthers could not afford to lose halfback Nathan Cleary, and a buoyed James Maloney did not need the travel ordeal of the past week. If the Warriors are on their game - and that's a big if - they should win.
TIP - Warriors
BULLDOGS V SHARKS
ANZ Stadium, 4.05pm
History: Played 91, Bulldogs 54, Sharks 35, drawn 2
Last met: Sharks, 30-18, round 25, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $3.25, Sharks $1.33
The Bulldogs hold a superior winning record over the Sharks in their 91 meetings, as well as in the clashes at ANZ Stadium, but that is where their dominance ends. Looking every bit the $1.57 wooden spoon certainties the odds say they are, the Dogs - with the worst attack and worst defence - appear cannon fodder for the impressive Sharks.
TIP - Sharks