Tony Durkins says the Rabbitohs look like premiership material.
Tony Durkins says the Rabbitohs look like premiership material. DAVE HUNT

Durko's NRL dissections: round 15

THURSDAY NIGHT

Eels V Rabbitohs

ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 124, Rabbitohs 67, Eels 54, drawn 3

Last met: Eels 22-16, round 26, 2017

Were the Eels better, or the Cowboys even worse in Darwin last weekend? That query should be answered - at least for the Eels - when they take on the full-strength, crack Rabbitohs tonight. No doubt the Eels will be buoyed by just their third win of a forgettable season but the Rabbitohs, with powerful forwards and in-form halves, are looking very much like premiership material.

TIP - Rabbitohs

FRIDAY NIGHT

Cowboys V Warriors

13000SMILES Stadium, 6pm

History: Played 38, Cowboys 19, Warriors 19

Last met: Warriors 22-12, round 5, 2018

Not since the early days of their entry into the competition have the Cowboys been at 100-1 to win the premiership, and they are, mysteriously, a far cry from the team that played in last year's grand final minus co-captains Thurston and Scott. To be beaten last weekend by the Eels was surely the final nail in the coffin. While the Warriors can be indifferent, surely they can't lose this, especially with their dynamic spine at last back together.

TIP - Warriors

The star-studded Roosters are the real deal. Picture: Breddan Esposito/AAP
The star-studded Roosters are the real deal. Picture: Breddan Esposito/AAP

Roosters V Panthers

Allianz Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 88, Roosters 54, Panthers 33, drawn 1

Last met: Roosters 14-12, round 3, 2017

Many suggest this could be the grand final preview and it is difficult to disagree. While the Panthers have been leading lights since day one and can seemingly overcome most hurdles, the star-studded Roosters are steadily gaining combinations and momentum and are starting to resemble the real deal. If the Roosters have a weakness it is their forwards, and that is where the Panthers may find them out. This is the round 15 standout.

TIP - Roosters

SATURDAY

Bulldogs V Titans

Belmore Oval, 3pm

History: Played 15, Bulldogs 8, Titans 7

Last met: Bulldogs 26-14, round 25, 2017

The Bulldogs may be second last on the ladder but are a better team than that lowly position suggests. Unlucky not to beat the ladder-leading Dragons on Monday, the Dogs are back at their beloved Belmore and will be primed for the Titans. While courageous against a below-strength Rabbitohs last weekend, the Titans were again ill-disciplined. Without suspended Origin prop Jarrod Wallace they will struggle to contain the aggressive Bulldogs pack.

TIP - Bulldogs

Dragons V Sea Eagles

WIN Stadium, 5.30pm

History: Played 26, Dragons 17, Sea Eagles 9

Last met: Dragons 52-22, round 20, 2017

If last weekend's effort in Christchurch is any indication, the season is all but over for the Sea Eagles - who play top-eight teams in the next six rounds. Not only did they allow an 8-0 lead to slip into a 34-14 hammering, they have lost livewire hooker Api Korisou for at least two months. With the Sea Eagles' injury list at breaking point, the Dragons will no doubt relish an early night against their old foe.

TIP - Dragons

Sharks V Broncos

SCG Stadium, 7.30pm

History: Played 53, Broncos 33, Sharks 20

Last met: Broncos 32-10, round 23, 2017

They may well be sitting next to each other on the ladder - with both in the top eight - but on form these teams are poles apart. The Sharks are gritty, playing as a team and defending stoutly. The Broncos are the opposite to all of the above. To capitulate as they did against the Storm on Sunday said much about the issues at Red Hill, which are becoming more obvious as each week passes. Only a miracle, or change in attitude, could result in a Broncos' win.

TIP - Sharks

SUNDAY

Knights V Storm

McDonald Jones Stadium, 2pm

History: Played 39, Storm 24, Knights 15

Last met: Storm 40-14, round 6, 2018

While Jesse Bromwich may well miss a chunk of the remainder of the season, the Storm troops do return with Billy Slater, Will Chambers and Curtis Scott back to help skipper Cameron Smith, who was sensational last week. As courageous as the Knights may be, and despite the fact they hold a 10-7 winning record at home over the Storm, at this vital stage of the season it is difficult to imagine the steely focus of the competition's most professional club will wander.

TIP - Storm

Tigers V Raiders

Campbelltown Stadium, 4.10pm

History: Played 33, Tigers 18, Raiders 15

Last met: Raiders 46-2, round 3, 2017

If a side currently outside the top eight is to make a charge to the finals, it is one of these - sitting ninth and 10th respectively. Key interest is in their diverse styles; the Raiders attack well but defend poorly; the Tigers are the reverse. The return of tenacious Josh Hodgson will be a massive boost to the Raiders but may not be enough to get them home in a game that is sure to go down to the wire.

TIP - Tigers

- compiled by Tony Durkin


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