DRAGONS V TITANS
Jubilee Oval, 7.50pm
History: Played 16, Dragons 11, Titans 5
Last met: Dragons 19-14, round 7, 2016
GIVEN they can leapfrog the disappointing Dragons into eighth spot with a win tomorrow night, the Titans will view this clash as important as any played all season. Freshened up from the bye, without any players backing up from Origin and Ash Taylor, Konrad Hurrell and David Mead returning, they are certainly well placed to advance their 2-1 winning advantage at Kogarah. And despite having Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell returning from Origin and a woeful last-start showing – beaten 36-6 by the Sea Eagles – the Dragons still warrant favouritism among the bookies. But to win, the Red V will need to score more than the 13 points they average in season 2016.
TIP – Titans
SEA EAGLES V WARRIORS
nib Stadium, Perth, 5.30pm (AEST)
History: Played 28, Sea Eagles 20, Warriors 8
Last met: Sea Eagles 34-18, round 6, 2016
THE last time the Warriors backed up from a bye – following three losses from their previous four outings – they flogged the Broncos in Auckland. Since then they have won three from four, have consolidated a berth in the top eight and have slashed their premiership odds to $29. Conversely, the Sea Eagles, also fresh from a bye and a 36-6 thrashing of the Dragons, have hit a roadblock following their best win of the season, with Brett Stewart gone for at least six weeks and Dylan Walker sidelined for up to a month. And needing to win at least seven of their remaining eight matches, the Sea Eagles’ hierarchy may regret taking this home game away from fortress Brookvale.
TIP – Warriors
RABBITOHS V BRONCOS
ANZ Stadium, 7.30pm
History: Played 33, Broncos 23, Rabbitohs 9, drawn 1
Last met: Broncos 30-8, round 8, 2016
IF THE Broncos are to make their annual post-Origin charge to the finals there is no better time to start than on Saturday night against a Rabbitohs side struggling on and off the field. Back from a bye but having lost six of their past eight and slipping from first to sixth on the ladder, the Broncos hope to have their six Origin reps on deck, plus Jordan Kahu from injury. While also looking for a form reversal, the Rabbitohs’ playing stocks are dwindling, although halfback Adam Reynolds and George Burgess have been named. If the Broncos don’t win this, they are in big strife.
TIP – Broncos
KNIGHTS V STORM
Hunter Stadium, 2pm
History: Played 35, Storm 20, Knights 15
Last met: Storm 18-14, round 5, 2016
THE main interest surrounding this clash is whether Storm coach Craig Bellamy will rest his chief architects, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. Despite their outstanding recent form and a top-two finals berth still not assured, Bellamy will be cautious about under-estimating the wooden spoon-bound Knights, who beat the Storm in round 26 last year, and the round-five clash earlier in the season went down to the wire. But while the floundering Knights are again expected to show plenty of fighting spirit, especially with Jarrod Mullen returning, the Storm – even if Smith and Cronk don’t play – will still have too much class.
TIP – Storm
PANTHERS V EELS
Pepper Stadium, 4pm
History: Played 92, Eels 55, Panthers 36, drawn 1
Last met: Panthers 20-18, round 5, 2016
SURELY this is the end of the road for the Eels. Facing the almost-impossible formula of winning their remaining eight matches now that their 12 points have finally been deducted, the Eels will no doubt scrap and fight as they have done all season. But while injury to Semi Radradra and further off-field drama must certainly be testing morale at Parramatta, Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has serious issues of his own in light of their haphazard display last weekend, at home against a greatly weakened Sharks. Skipper Matt Moylan will no doubt add attacking thrust, but it’s the Panthers’ defence – conceding 22 points a game – that needs serious attention.
TIP – Panthers
ROOSTERS V SHARKS
Allianz Stadium, 7pm
History: Played 89, Roosters 56, Sharks 31, drawn 2
Last met: Sharks 10-4, round 13, 2015
PRIDE may be all the Roosters are playing for now after they allowed an 18-6 lead against the Eels to slip last weekend, but they would consider ending the Sharks’ 13-game winning streak somewhat of a major triumph in a forgettable season. Back to full strength and with a number of returning players close to match fit, Monday night at Allianz Stadium will be a genuine test for the front-running Sharks, who were superb last weekend, minus their Origin five. Don’t be surprised if Blues skipper Paul Gallen is rested for this.
TIP – Sharks
BYE: Bulldogs, Cowboys, Raiders, Tigers
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