Mitchell Moses will be key for the Eels.
Mitchell Moses will be key for the Eels. Mark Metcalfe

Durko's Dissections: NRL previews for Round 23


Bankwest Stadium, Thursday, 7.50pm

History: Played 145, Bulldogs 76, Eels 64, drawn 5. Last met: Eels 36-16, round 2, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Eels $1.35, Bulldogs $3.15

The Bulldogs may have stunned many with three wins on the trot, but far too much is at stake for the Eels to drop their guard in this. Still with a chance of finishing in the top four, the reigning wooden spooners will relish the challenge of meeting their much-improved neighbours at their new home ground, where they have established an impressive seven-from-eight winning record. Halfback Mitchell Moses is on fire, and his game management will prove the difference. TIP - Eels


1300Smiles Stadium, Friday, 6.00pm

History: Played 38, Panthers 20, Cowboys 18. Last met: Cowboys 26-20, round 9, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Cowboys $2.14, Panthers $1.70

An unfathomable fall from grace by the Cowboys, who are conceding an average 22 points per game, plays into the hands of the Panthers who must win in Townsville to keep their finals hopes alive. The Panthers were untidy in attack against the Broncos last weekend and will need a huge attitude adjustment to win in Townsville, where they have a 10-8 success rate. Conversely, the Cowboys - rocked by the news of Matt Scott's health scare - have won just three times at home this season. TIP - Panthers

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 03: Damien Cook of the Rabittohs looks to pass the ball during the round 20 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Shark Park on August 03, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Damien Cook shapes as a real danger for the Broncos. Brett Hemmings


Suncorp Stadium, Friday, 7.55pm

History: Played 39, Broncos 28, Rabbitohs 10, drawn 1. Last met: Rabbitohs 38-6, round 8, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.95, Rabbitohs $1.85

While they have been nowhere near the team most expected they would be in 2019, the Broncos head into this absolute blockbuster with far more impressive recent form than their opposition, having lost only twice in their past eight starts. The Rabbitohs, conversely, are facing their fourth straight loss. Both teams are well below strength but reputations and critical finals spots are on the line. If the Broncos' stop-gap halves can provide some direction, their powerful forward pack may just get them home, although Damien Cook spells trouble for the Broncos. Grudge matches don't come any more serious than this. TIP - Rabbitohs


PointsBet Stadium, Saturday, 3.00pm

History: Played 39, Sharks 22, Warriors 17. Last met: Warriors 19-18, round 18, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Sharks $1.42, Warriors $2.90

Handed a lifeline by the video referee last weekend, the Sharks must take full advantage of their stroke of luck against a Warriors outfit now out of finals contention and probably out of spirit. The Sharks have one goal - keep winning and a finals berth is theirs. The return of Andrew Fifita is a boost, but losing Matt Moylan - yet again - takes away some key potency in attack. TIP - Sharks

Knights coach Nathan Brown during a Newcastle Knights training session at Wests Mayfield in Newcastle, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman) NO ARCHIVING
Nathan Brown will be hoping the Knights finish off strong. DARREN PATEMAN


Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday, 5.30pm

History: Played 27, Tigers 14, Knights 13. Last met: Tigers 28-26, round 19, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $2.00, Knights $1.80

Sitting on 20 points and needing a miracle to make the play-offs, both sides will be ruing some close calls from earlier in the season. Now just pride is on the line, as are contacts for next season and beyond. On last weekend's form, the Knights should be odds-on to win this, but with these clubs in 2019, nothing is a certainty. No doubt the Knights will rally for dethroned coach Nathan Brown. TIP - Knights


Jubilee Stadium, Saturday, 7.35pm

History: Played 40, Dragons 20, Roosters 19, drawn 1. Last met: Roosters 20-10, round 7, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $4.50, Roosters $1.20

By scoring 190 points in their past five successive wins, the Roosters have done what most good judges thought they would - flexed their considerable muscle when finals time approached. The Storm and Raiders may be in the picture, but with joint skippers Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend still to return, the premiers are looking downright scary. And the Dragons, on their recent form, are potential cannon fodder. TIP - Roosters

The Titans wait for the referees decision on a try during the Round 21 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Gold Coast Titans at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, August 10, 2019. (AAP Image/Steve Christo) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Titans could be in for a long afternoon STEVE CHRISTO


AAMI Park, Sunday, 2.00pm

History: Played 20, Storm 14, Titans 6. Last met: Storm 38-18, round 18, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.06, Titans $9.00

Could the poor, forlorn Titans possibly have imagined a worse weekend to travel to Melbourne, with the Storm coming off just their fourth loss of the season? Being run down, at home, after leading 18-nil, is exactly the motive Craig Bellamy needs to fire a rocket into his usually disciplined camp. The Titans have beaten the Storm just once in the past eight encounters and a landslide result is on the cards. TIP - Storm


GIO Stadium, Sunday, 4.05pm

History: Played 56, Sea Eagles 34, Raiders 21, drawn 1. Last met: Sea Eagles 24-20, round 7, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Raiders $1.55, Sea Eagles $2.40

A crucial top-four berth is at stake in the national capital on Sunday with virtually nothing splitting these two premiership candidates. The Raiders were pretty special last weekend, coming from behind to beat the Storm, but the Sea Eagles have good current form too and have no fears playing in Canberra where they have won on six of their past eight visits. Still without Curtis Sironen, he visitors must match the Raiders up front to be a genuine chance of causing an upset. But, playing their best football in years and with the competition's second-best defence, the Green Machine should win. TIP - Raiders