Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 25
RABBITOHS V TIGERS
ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm
Played: 31, Rabbitohs 16, Tigers 15. Last met: Tigers 22-6, round 19, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Rabbitohs $1.36, Tigers $3.25
Following three successive losses - which have cost them the minor premiership and their once grand final favouritism - the Rabbitohs simply have to win this to gain some momentum going into the finals. A team revered a month ago has slipped alarmingly, but with most of their squad back on deck, including inspirational skipper Greg Inglis, this weekend could well be the turning point. The Tigers will be tough, but with only pride on the line their growl may be more savage than their bite.
TIP - Rabbitohs
WARRIORS V RAIDERS
Mt Smart Stadium, 6pm (AEST)
Played: 39, Raiders 21, Warriors 18. Last met: Warriors 20-19, round 3, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Warriors $1.57, Raiders $2.45
Seven teams above the Warriors in the top eight are trembling at the prospect of meeting them in the finals, especially if that match is in Auckland. But the Raiders, who have struck top form too late, could do them all a favour with a win tomorrow night. However, with their forwards now dominating opposition packs, and Shaun Johnson and Isaac Luke in superb form, the Warriors have too much to lose against a team that promises much, but often delivers little. The absence of Blake Green is a concern for a Warriors though.
TIP - Warriors
STORM V PANTHERS
Played: 32, Storm 25, Panthers 7.
Last met: Storm 28-6, round 5, 2017
Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.53, Panthers $2.60
On the back of two successive losses, a coaching circus and an ever- increasing injury list, the last place the Panthers want to be this weekend is at AAMI Park, where they are still to register a win. The only palatable result of yet another expected loss is the prospect of playing the equally disappointing Dragons in next week's knockout final. While James Maloney may return and boost the Panthers, the bait of their third consecutive minor premiership will be a lure too strong for the super-professional Storm to ignore, albeit still without some key men.
TIP - Storm
KNIGHTS V DRAGONS
McDonald Jones Stadium 3pm
Played: 36, Dragons 25, Knights 11. Last met: Dragons 30-12, round 4, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Knights $2.05, Dragons $1.80
Three words - Old Boys' Day - should strike fear into the struggling Dragons, who are desperate to avoid their sixth loss since the end of the Origin series. Irrespective of where they sit on the table the Knights usually fire up for their former players, but will again be without the brilliant Kalyn Ponga. The Dragons have an outstanding record in Newcastle - 15 wins from 19 visits - and although it will take more than that to reverse their diabolical recent form, with so much at stake they should win this.
TIP - Dragons
TITANS V COWBOYS
Cbus Super Stadium, 5.30pm
Played: 20, Cowboys 12, Titans 8. Last met: Cowboys 26-14, round 7, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Titans $2.60, Cowboys $1.53
The Cowboys - and most of the sell-out crowd I would suggest - would like nothing more than to send JT out a winner in his final game, but that result is no certainty. While the Cowboys have been much better in recent weeks so have the Titans, with two wins and two skinny losses. But following a season to forget, the Cowboys have too much pride on the line.
TIP - Cowboys
EELS V ROOSTERS
ANZ Stadium, 7.30pm
Played: 130, Roosters 63, Eels 62, drawn 5. Last met: Broncos 28-22, round 11, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Eels $4.50, Roosters $1.22
Despite back-to-back losses the Roosters remain premiership favourites, but they will need a big win over the wooden spoon-bound Eels to convince many that such favouritism is deserved. The suspension of Dylan Napa hurts big time, so the return of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is timely. The Roosters need more direction from Cronk and Keary and more domination up front.
TIP - Roosters
BULLDOGS V SHARKS
ANZ Stadium, 2pm
Played: 90, Bulldogs 54, Sharks 34, drawn 2. Last met: Sharks 22-16, round 11, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $2.60, Sharks $1.53
Having won four of their past five to climb to 12th on the ladder, the Bulldogs have turned around what was looming as a shocker of a season. But with a top-four berth on the line, Paul Gallen's men are unlikely to take the home team lightly or let the salary cap mess intervene.
TIP - Sharks
BRONCOS V SEA EAGLES
Suncorp Stadium, 4.10pm
Played: 44, Sea Eagles 22, Broncos 21, drawn 1. Last met: Sea Eagles 38-24, round 10, 2018
Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.32, Sea Eagles $3.50
This is an ominous test for the Broncos. They dropped their guard against the Sea Eagles in round 10 and were swamped - at this same ground. But surely, after wins over the Rabbitohs and Roosters, their yo-yo form has subsided now that a home final beckons. A season of calamity will finally end for the Sea Eagles, but with so much class in their ranks they are unlikely to surrender meekly.
TIP - Broncos
- COMPILED BY TONY DURKIN