NRL Round 9 previews
BRONCOS V BULLDOGS
Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm
Played 52, Broncos 29, Bulldogs 22, drawn 1
Last met: Broncos 42-12, round 20, 2017
Twice in the past four seasons the Broncos have run 40-point scores past the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium, but with three internationals on the sideline and a couple more struggling for form they will be happy with a win of any size. And while the third-from-bottom-placed Dogs were much better last weekend, they would need to stay in the fight for 80 minutes to beat a Broncos side that looked much better in the past two rounds. The return of Andrew McCullough is massive.
TIP - Broncos
KNIGHTS V RABBITOHS
McDonald Jones Stadium, 6pm
Played 40, Knights 25, Rabbitohs 15
Last met: Rabbitohs 24-18, round 3, 2017
A recent whipping at the hands of the Storm aside, the Knights have been very impressive with three wins from their past four starts, especially last weekend without Mitchell Pearce. South Sydney has beaten the Knights at their past eight meetings but this clash presents a genuine poser for the Rabbitohs, who are desperate to strike back from a disappointing last-up performance.
TIP - Rabbitohs
PANTHERS V COWBOYS
Carrington Park, Bathurst, 7.50pm
Played 37, Panthers 20, Cowboys 17
Last met: Panthers 33-14, round 4, 2018
With a third of the season expired, this weekend is close to D-Day for the Cowboys - the pre-season premiership favourites of many. And even though the Panthers have a long injury list, they just keep turning up each week, something veteran Cowboys prop Matt Scott concedes his teammates have not been doing. The Panthers already have a win over the Cowboys back in round one and unless Johnathan Thurston's men suddenly discover the confidence all and sundry have been expecting for nine weeks, Penrith will make it seven wins from nine outings.
TIP - Panthers
RAIDERS V TITANS
GIO Stadium, 3.00pm
Played 21, Titans 12, Raiders 9
Last met: Titans 30-28, round 1, 2018
Losing their first three matches of the season by a combined total of five points - including one of those to the Titans - can now be consigned to the history books after the Raiders' win in Townsville, for the first time in 12 years, last weekend. And while the Cowboys were shabby, the Raiders showed plenty of courage. They will be up for the fight against the struggling Gold Coasters, who have suddenly become wooden spoon favourites.
TIP - Raiders
WARRIORS V TIGERS
Mt Smart Stadium, 5.30pm (AEST)
Played 28, Tigers 15, Warriors 13
Last met: Tigers 28-16, round 26, 2017
In a massive boost the Warriors welcome back Shaun Johnston, Solomone Kata and Tohu Harris, who they need after two losses in three outings, including last week's Anzac Day whipping at the hands of the Storm. But after an equally impressive start, the Tigers are also wobbling following successive losses and will be looking to their recent good record against the Warriors - four consecutive wins - for confidence in this clash. Defence will be the key.
TIP - Warriors
SHARKS V EELS
SCG Stadium, 7.35pm
Played 84, Sharks 45, Eels 39
Last met: Sharks 14-4, round 3, 2018
Like a number of the top-eight fancies at season's start, the Sharks are struggling for consistency. Against a rejuvenated Eels, without the experience of Gallen, Lewis and now Dugan, this will be another tough scrap. While the Eels have not won at Shark Park in four years, two successive wins will give them confidence and they may just get home in a tight one.
TIP - Eels
DRAGONS V STORM
Jubilee Oval, 2.00pm
Played 34, Storm 24, Dragons 9, drawn 1
Last met: Storm 34-22, round 9, 2017
These are easily the two most impressive teams in the competition right now and despite the horrid record of the Dragons against the Storm, they should prevail at home. Melbourne was awesome last week but with Tim Glasby added to its already lengthy injury list, this is an opportunity too good for the Dragons to miss. With the two best attacking teams and the two best defensive teams clashing, this should be an absolute belter, and those without Fox Sports will need to find a friend on Sunday.
TIP - Dragons
ROOSTERS V SEA EAGLES
Allianz Stadium, 4.10pm
Played 130, Sea Eagles 84, Roosters 44, drawn 2
Last met: Sea Eagles 36-18, round 22, 2017
Tipsters have been waiting eight weeks to see the attacking flare the big-spending Roosters have promised, and against the sad Sea Eagles on Sunday the fuse may be lit. If coach Trent Robinson allows the structure to dissipate for one week, the score could be as embarrassing as the recent on and off-field sagas at Manly. The 1999 record score of 46-nil looks to be in danger.
TIP - Roosters
COMPILED BY TONY DURKIN