Adam Reynolds returns to action for the Rabbitohs. Picture: Brett Costello
Adam Reynolds returns to action for the Rabbitohs. Picture: Brett Costello Brett Costello

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 15

THE Rabbitohs will be looking to bounce back from a one-point defeat to the Panthers before the Origin break in the opening game of round 15. Tony Durkin looks ahead to the clash with the Tigers at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday night plus all the other games, in what promises to be a cracking round of NRL.

 

TIGERS V RABBITOHS

Bankwest Stadium, Thursday, 7.50pm

History: Played 33, Rabbitohs 18, Tigers 15

Last met: Rabbitohs 32-16, round 11, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $2.60, Rabbitohs $1.48

Adam Reynolds and Braidon Burns are named to return for the Rabbitohs, but Wayne Bennett's team will again field only one Burgess brother for this key clash against the Tigers, who have axed Ben Matulino. While the Rabbits sit comfortably in equal second, on the back of three successive losses they need to get back to a settled combination. And despite a health scare with skipper Moses Mbye last week, the Tigers are back to full strength.

TIP - Rabbitohs

Ben Matulino during Wests Tigers training at Concord Oval, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello
Ben Matulino during Wests Tigers training at Concord Oval, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello Brett Costello

 

TOMORROW

DRAGONS V COWBOYS

WIN Stadium, 6pm

History: Played 31, Cowboys 16, Dragons 15

Last met: Cowboys 24-12, round 1, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $1.48, Cowboys $2.60

With nine of their NRL squad already sidelined, the Cowboys did not need the news that back-up dummy half Kurt Baptiste would miss the remainder of the season after being injured on duty for PNG. With Josh McGuire suspended, coach Paul Green will hope that skipper Michael Morgan lines up against the Dragons - and plays much better than he did for the Maroons. The Dragons have their own injury concerns, but their Origin trio is right to go in a match that could well decide the premiership fate of the vanquished.

TIP - Dragons

Kurt Baptiste of the Cowboys gets a pass away during the Round 14 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville, Friday June 14, 2019. (AAP Image/Michael Chambers) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Kurt Baptiste will miss the rest of the season. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

 

ROOSTERS V STORM

Adelaide Oval, 7.55pm (AEST)

History: Played 37, Storm 20, Roosters 17

Last met: Roosters 21-20, round 6, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.95, Storm $1.85

Start the engines, fasten the seatbelts and sit back and watch - this should be as good as it gets. Grand finalists from last season and, despite a couple of uncharacteristic glitches from the Roosters, it's the two best teams in the competition clashing on foreign soil in what promises to be a belter if the past two matches in Adelaide are a guide. Both times a field goal separated these heavyweights in a win apiece. Much depends on the battering the respective rep players took at the weekend but, all being equal, the Storm should get home - just.

TIP - Storm

 

SATURDAY

TITANS V SEA EAGLES

Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm

History: Played 19, Sea Eagles 10, Titans 9

Last met: Titans 36-18, round 11, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Titans $2.48, Sea Eagles $1.53

When these sides met just four rounds ago, the Titans handed the Sea Eagles an attacking lesson. But that was the Sea Eagles without the inspirational Tom Trbojevic, who has been simply sensational in his past two outings. Although the Sea Eagles hold an overall winning record against the Titans and also have the wood on them at the Gold Coast, the Titans have won four of the past five clashes.

TIP - Sea Eagles

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 23:  Tom Trbojevic of the Blues celebrates a try during game two of the 2019 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
Tom Trbojevic will be the one to watch for the Sea Eagles. Will Russell

 

KNIGHTS V BRONCOS

McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.30pm

History: Played 48, Broncos 33, Knights 14, drawn 1

Last met: Knights 15-10, round 5, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Knights $1.65, Broncos $2.24

As a number of rep players are uncertain starters, any genuine forecast on this result cannot be made until match eve. But if the two most recent performances from the Broncos is a guide, they are no hope. The Knights may have stumbled against the Storm last round, but on the back of their six straight wins before that they look the real deal. If the doubtful trio of Ponga, Pearce and Klemmer saddle up, this looms as yet another sad evening for Broncos fans.

TIP - Knights

 

EELS V RAIDERS

TIO Stadium, Darwin, 7.35pm (AEST)

History: Played 57, Raiders 31, Eels 26

Last met: Raiders 19-nil, round 5, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Eels $2.10, Raiders $1.72

Each time Josh Hodgson lines up for the Raiders, his teammates seemingly grow an extra leg - and that will again be the case in Darwin at the weekend when he returns from a four-week injury lay-off. Sitting fourth on the ladder, the Raiders have only two players backing up from the rep weekend, while the Eels have nine - a major disadvantage. The Eels have been up and down all season, and if they stay true to form this weekend, a downer is on the cards.

TIP - Raiders

Josh Hodgson. NRL; North Queensland Cowboys Vs Canberra Raiders at 1300 Smiles Stadium. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Josh Hodgson has been key for the Raiders. Alix Sweeney

 

SUNDAY

WARRIORS V PANTHERS

Mt Smart Stadium, 2pm (AEST)

History: Played 43, Panthers 24, Warriors 18, drawn 1

Last met: Warriors 30-10, round 10, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Warriors $1.60, Panthers $2.32

Since the Warriors hammered the Panthers in round 10 to inflict their sixth successive loss, Penrith seemingly awoke from a slumber and have since won four on the trot. With both teams just two points out of the top eight and a win critical, the Panthers could not afford to lose halfback Nathan Cleary, and a buoyed James Maloney did not need the travel ordeal of the past week. If the Warriors are on their game - and that's a big if - they should win.

TIP - Warriors

 

BULLDOGS V SHARKS

ANZ Stadium, 4.05pm

History: Played 91, Bulldogs 54, Sharks 35, drawn 2

Last met: Sharks, 30-18, round 25, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $3.25, Sharks $1.33

The Bulldogs hold a superior winning record over the Sharks in their 91 meetings, as well as in the clashes at ANZ Stadium, but that is where their dominance ends. Looking every bit the $1.57 wooden spoon certainties the odds say they are, the Dogs - with the worst attack and worst defence - appear cannon fodder for the impressive Sharks.

TIP - Sharks