Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 20
NEWS Regional rugby league columnist Tony Durkin previews the round ahead.
BRONCOS V SHARKS
At Suncorp Stadium, Thursday, 7.50pm
Played: 54 Broncos 34, Sharks 20.
Last met: Broncos 20-16, round 15, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.80 Sharks $2.05
FIVE weeks ago, Corey Oates scored a miraculous late try to sneak the Broncos a win over the Sharks - the club's third in succession against the 2016 premiers.
And while the Broncos have a commanding 12-4 record over the Sharks at Suncorp they will need to repeat something similar to last week's brilliant form to keep the visitors at bay.
This clash brings together the hard heads of the Sharks' pack against the youth of the Broncos, and shapes as a genuine finals-quality contest which should go down to the wire.
TIP - Broncos
COWBOYS V KNIGHTS
At 1300SMILES Stadium, Friday, 6pm
Played: 36: Knights 19, Cowboys 17.
Last met: Cowboys 24-12, round 8, 2017.
Ladbrokes odds: Cowboys $1.55 Knights $2.55
IF THE Cowboys continue to make fundamental errors, as they have done all season, the rejuvenated and enthusiastic Knights are a big chance of winning in Townsville where they have saluted just seven times in 18 visits. And the return of the brilliant Kalyn Ponga is certain to add spark, as well as intrigue. But surely the class of Thurston, Taumalolo, Hess, Granville and company - and the possible return of Matt Scott and Jordan McLean - has to rise to the surface soon?
TIP - Cowboys
BULLDOGS V TIGERS
At ANZ Stadium, Friday, 7.55pm
Played: 33: Bulldogs 20, Tigers 13.
Last met: Tigers 14-10, round 12, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $1.45 Bulldogs $2.85
WITH the sniff of a finals berth in their nostrils and on the back of two successive wins against premiership hotshots the Rabbitohs and Dragons, the Tigers won't let this opportunity slip against the shambolic Bulldogs. The old firm of Farah and Marshall have seemingly inspired the Tigers to find the form that won them six of their first seven matches to start the season, but they must keep winning to be an outside finals chance.
TIP - Tigers
SEA EAGLES V PANTHERS
At Lottoland, Saturday, 3pm
Played: 87: Sea Eagles 52, Panthers 34, drawn 1.
Last met: Sea Eagles 18-10, round 16, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Panthers $1.50 Sea Eagles $2.70
HAD the Sea Eagles not been flogged last weekend this would be considered a genuine danger game for the stumbling Panthers, who have lost four of their past five. The Panthers have won just 12 of 42 visits to Brookvale and despite the poor form of the Sea Eagles, and their low standing on the table, this still looms as season-defining clash for the ladder-sliding men from Penrith.
TIP - Panthers
RABBITOHS V EELS
At ANZ Stadium, Saturday, 5.30pm
Played: 125: Rabbitohs 68, Eels 54, drawn 3.
Last met: Rabbitohs 42-24, round 15, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Rabbitohs $1.25 Eels $4.20
FOLLOWING nine successive wins the Rabbitohs faltered last Saturday and, ironically, the Eels scored just their fourth win of the season. But that will matter little this weekend so expect the Rabbitohs to go on a scoring rampage against the likely wooden spooners who concede an average 22 points a game. Greatest interest will again be on the form of the Burgess brothers.
TIP - Rabbitohs
STORM V RAIDERS
At AAMI Park, Saturday, 7.35pm
Played: 40: Storm 29, Raiders 11
. Last met: Storm 32-6, round 26, 2017.
Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.33 Raiders $3.45
SURPRISE, surprise, the competition is nearing the business end and without fuss or fanfare the Storm are sitting atop the premiership ladder. Methodical, professional, calm and calculative, Cameron Smith and his men miss very few opportunities and rarely make monumental mistakes. Conversely, the Raiders, albeit luckless last weekend, can seemingly always find a way to lose. The Storm have won 29 of the 40 previous meetings between the clubs and will add one more to the ledger after victory in this.
TIP - Storm
TITANS V WARRIORS
At Cbus Super Stadium, Sunday, 2pm
Played: 23: Warriors 16, Titans 7.
Last met: Warriors 20-8, round 2, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Warriors $1.50 Titans $2.70
FOLLOWING a smashing, then a big win, the erratic Warriors knuckled down to an arm wrestle with the Storm last weekend and on the back of that admirable loss, and the return of Blake Green, should account for the equally-unpredictable Titans. Clinging to eighth spot and facing the Dragons away next week, the Warriors must make a bird of this against team they have beaten seven times in the past eight encounters.
TIP - Warriors
ROOSTERS V DRAGONS
At Allianz Stadium, Sunday, 4.10pm
Played: 38: Dragons 20, Roosters 17, drawn 1.
Last met: Dragons 24-8, round 8, 2018.
Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.63 Dragons $2.30
The best of Retro Round has been left 'til last: two versus four in a Sunday afternoon blockbuster. Both impressive winners last round after indifferent recent form, the improving Roosters could jump a rung on the ladder with an anticipated win. The Origin-laden Dragons pack will test the Roosters up front but given a reasonable share of possession the Tricolours could have too much class, and speed, in the outside backs. The possible late inclusion of Dylan Napa could be huge for the Roosters.
TIP - Roosters