COWBOYS V BULLDOGS
1300 SMILES Stadium, 5.30pm
History: Played 33, Bulldogs 21, Cowboys 12
Last met: Cowboys 23-16, round 9, 2015
RECORDS are made to be broken and that will be the target of the Cowboys tonight as they not only try to take the scalp of the resurgent Bulldogs, but also start to peg back a dreadful history against them. Not only have the Dogs won 21 of the 33 clashes between the two clubs, they have a 12-4 winning record in Townsville. But fresh from a bye, with Michael Morgan back and a berth in the top four genuinely on the line, expect the premiers to have all guns blazing. Like the Cowboys, the Bulldogs will also be at full strength and this promises to be the game of the round.
BRONCOS V PANTHERS
Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 49, Broncos 30, Panthers 18, drawn 1
Last met: Panthers 23-22, round 3, 2016
ANTHONY Griffin returns to Brisbane for the first time since being sacked and although he would garner gratification from a win against the Broncos, the two vital premiership points will be of greater satisfaction. The Panthers are in a real dogfight with half a dozen teams for a spot in the bottom part of the top eight and despite an extremely talented roster have looked anything but premiership contenders for most of the season. Likewise the Broncos, after an impressive start, have been in a slump and need the points. The loss of Matt Gillett and Jordan Kahu is a massive blow for the Broncos.
RAIDERS V WARRIORS
GIO Stadium, 3.30pm
History: Played 35, Raiders 18, Warriors 17
Last met: Raiders 38-12, round 11, 2016
WITH six wins from their past seven outings, a win will enable the Raiders to leapfrog tonight’s loser into the top four. And having produced arguably their most impressive form of the season against the Warriors in round 11, confidence within the Canberra ranks will be high. Such is the perceived frailty within the Warriors camp that two golden-point losses in four weeks could be their undoing, especially returning to Australia on the back of last weekend’s epic trip to Perth. Josh Papalii is back for the Raiders and Jacob Lillyman returns for the Warriors.
TITANS V EELS
Cbus Super Stadium, 5.30pm
History: Played 14, Titans 9, Eels 5
Last met: Eels 22-12, round 14, 2016
WHILE only a miracle can save the imploding Eels, in the eyes of many last week’s hammering of the Dragons has tossed up the Titans as another finals contender. And in a logjam with six other aspirants for a top-eight spot, their 5-2 winning home record will certainly boost their confidence against a team that has shown remarkable courage and fighting spirit, but must soon realise the end is nigh. Eels discard Nathan Peats will no doubt have a strong message for his ex-teammates, although the suspension of Greg Bird is something the Titans did not need.
STORM V ROOSTERS
AAMI Park, 7.30pm
History: Played 31, Storm17, Roosters 14
Last met: Storm 46-0, round 14, 2016
WITH their finals hopes in disarray for the first time under the coaching of Trent Robinson, the Roosters can only be nuisance value for the next seven rounds – something of which Storm mentor Craig Bellamy will be acutely aware. Taken to the wire last weekend by the lowly Knights, Melbourne will again need to be at its best if Monday night’s improved display by the Roosters is a yardstick. Keen to rest Origin heroes Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, Bellamy may need to wait a few more weeks.
SHARKS V KNIGHTS
Southern Cross Group Stadium, 2pm
History: Played 47, Knights 27, Sharks 19, drawn 1
Last met: Sharks 62-0, round 10, 2016
THE end of season 2016 can’t come quick enough for Nathan Brown and the Knights, who, despite a courageous display last weekend, have had a horror few days. Back from injury for only three games, Robbie Rochow is now gone for the season; Sione Mata’utia, outstanding in his two games in the second row, has a broken jaw; and prop Daniel Saifiti is suspended. Add to that the fact the Sharks, who beat them 62-0 10 rounds ago, are charging for 15 successive wins, and the $10 for the Knights winning is miserly odds.
DRAGONS V TIGERS
ANZ Stadium, 4pm
History: Played 31, Dragons 17, Tigers 14
Last met: Dragons 32-30, round 26, 2015
SCORING 14 points a game in 2016, the Dragons will no doubt consider their round 26 clash against the Tigers last year a reminder of their capabilities, and a spur to go on the attack against a team that will jump them on the ladder with a win. The Dragons were abysmal against the Titans last weekend and with a season differential better than only the wooden spoon-bound Knights, it is a miracle they are sitting as high as 10th. With Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah and James Tedesco back from Origin duty, the Tigers look certainties.
RABBITOHS V SEA EAGLES
ANZ Stadium, 7pm
History: Played 137, Sea Eagles 74, Rabbitohs 63
Last met: Rabbitohs 16-12, round 5, 2016
ADMITTEDLY the Sea Eagles have started a late charge, but these teams are among the most disappointing in 2016 and both look set for an early September holiday. Injuries to key players in both camps have contributed to the downfall, but poor defence – particularly by the Rabbitohs, who have leaked more than 24 points a game – is the result of a poor attitude. On the back of two strong wins, the Sea Eagles should prevail.
TIP: Sea Eagles
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