ROOSTERS V BULLDOGS
Allianz Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 168, Roosters 84, Bulldogs 79, drawn 5
Last met: Bulldogs 32-20, round 11, 2016
The return of halves Mitchell Pearce and Jackson Hastings is a boost for the Roosters, but they will need more than that to beat the bullying Bulldogs, who last week found their best form of the season. Not only did the Dogs destroy the Broncos with their power up the middle, but a couple of length-of-the-field tries had them reminding their fans of when they were the entertainers of the ’80s. On paper the Roosters appear as strong as at any time this season, but the Bulldogs will be stronger.
TIP – Bulldogs
BRONCOS V STORM
ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 38, Storm 25, Broncos 12, drawn 1
Last met: Storm 15-8, round 26, 2015
FINDING themselves in a hole following five losses from their past seven outings, the Broncos desperately need a win. But still without key personnel, an Origin hangover evident and the Storm their nemesis, that scenario appears unlikely. Rolling along superbly and with a bye to come, Melbourne has once again defied the odds to sit atop the NRL ladder despite their own injury concerns. But with a forward pack that is relentless and the scheming Smith-Cronk double act in career-best touch, this is not the weekend the Broncos will turn their fortunes around.
TIP – Storm
WARRIORS V TITANS
Mt Smart Stadium, 3pm (AEST)
History: Played 18, Warriors 11, Titans 7
Last met: Warriors 36-14, round 15, 2015
DON’T be surprised if the Warriors put the cleaners through the Titans, who have been gutsy in season 2016 but inconsistent and poor defensively, conceding an average 22points a game. Conversely, the Warriors have turned the corner with three successive wins followed by an unlucky loss to the Sharks last weekend, and they are playing better than at any time this season. Injuries to outside backs have left the Titans struggling, whereas the Warriors have an embarrassment of riches in that area and speed to burn.
TIP – Warriors
TIGERS V PANTHERS
ANZ Stadium, 5.30pm
History: Played 27, Panthers 16, Tigers 11
Last met: Panthers 35-12, round 16, 2015
STATISTICS reveal a vanilla Panthers team – sitting mid-table, having won seven and lost seven and with a points differential of minus 12. They are not exactly setting the premiership alight, yet they aren’t out of contention either. The time for this talented young side to step out of the shadows has arrived, and against a Tigers team conceding 25points a game this may well be the weekend the Panthers sharpen their claws. Opposing fullbacks James Tedesco and Matt Moylan should provide a fascinating sideshow.
TIP – Warriors
SHARKS V EELS
Southern Cross Group Stadium, 7.30pm
History: Played 81, Sharks 42, Eels 39
Last met: Sharks 35-28, round 25, 2015
WHILE the Eels go to Shark Park on Saturday night sitting in the top four and just three wins shy of the ladder-leading Sharks, waiting in the wings is their real nemesis – the NRL – which is finally about to deduct competition points for salary cap deceit. Add to that the Semi Radradra hullabaloo, the loss of skipper Kieran Foran for the season and the release of three high-profile players, and it is astounding the Eels still have any fight left in them. With a poor record at Cronulla and a Sharks team in full flight, only one realistic result awaits the Eels.
TIP – Sharks
RAIDERS V KNIGHTS
GIO Stadium, 2pm
History: Played 44, Raiders 24, Knights 18, drawn 2
Last met: 24-24, round 3, 2016
COME finals time when positions and venues are dictated by miniscule differentials, the Raiders will no doubt lament the valuable one point conceded in their round three draw with the cellar-dwelling Knights. With a talented roster that boasts massive forwards and talented, speedy backs, the Green Machine look good things for the finals but will need to tighten their defence and be more disciplined with the ball to threaten for the title. At home, against a side that has won in Canberra just five times on 22 visits, Sunday is a good time to start.
TIP – Raiders
RABBITOHS V COWBOYS
Barlow Park, Cairns, 4pm
History: Played 29, Rabbitohs 14, Cowboys 14, drawn 1
Last met: Cowboys 44-18, round 7, 2016
PAUL Green conceded his Cowboys won unconvincingly against the desperate Sea Eagles on Monday night, but has welcomed the opportunity to have an uninterrupted week before heading to Cairns on Sunday. And that can only spell trouble for the Rabbitohs, who have again taken their home game north. Sitting 13th on the ladder with five wins, season 2016 is getting away from the Rabbitohs and a string of wins is needed, starting this weekend. But despite the return of Blues halfback Adam Reynolds, a Cowboys team looking to make amends for a sloppy last win will be determined that scenario is not about to happen.
TIP – Cowboys
SEA EAGLES V DRAGONS
Brookvale Oval, 7pm
History: Played 23, Dragons 15, Sea Eagles 8
Last met: Dragons 12-4, round 4, 2015
ON THE back of their best performance of the season, albeit a loss to the premiers, the Sea Eagles will be looking to go one step further and garner their first premiership points since round eight. And for one of the rare occasions in 2016, they will attempt it with the same side in successive weeks. But the Dragons, holding a commanding record against the Sea Eagles and almost back to full strength, will be confident of winning their third match on the trot for the first time this season.
TIP – Dragons
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.