Durkin dissects Round 12 of NRL
TONY Durkin previews Round 12 of the 2012 NRL season.
Storm V Broncos: At AAMI Stadium, 7.35pm
Head-to-head: Played 30; Storm 18, Broncos11, draws 1
Last meeting: Storm 26-6, round 20, 2011
Unimaginative scheduling has robbed this match - between one and two on the ladder - of much of its lustre. Anthony Griffin has decided to rest three of his Origin stars and no doubt Craig Bellamy will be cautious with his. The Broncos were brave last season without their rep players and Griffin's 'proceed with caution' approach is admirable, but three losses in a row will hurt them. And surely he will switch Matt Gillett and Ben Te'o this time. On paper the Storm looks too strong.
Rabbitohs V Raiders: At ANZ Stadium, 7.35pm
Head-to-head: Played 44; Raiders 27, Rabbitohs17
Last meeting: Rabbitohs 47-18, round 23, 2011
Rules are rules, but dumping Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson because they had a drink - and did not misbehave - is a tough call, but at least it enables us to see Edrick Lee, a 19-year-old beanstalk who was a champion Brisbane basketballer. Coming off the bye, the Raiders need to start winning, but it won't be this weekend. The Rabbitohs are in good touch and might even be brave enough to rest Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor.
Knights V Titans: At Hunter Stadium, 5.30pm
Head-to-head: Played 4; Knights 3, Titans 1
Last meeting: Knights 4-20, round 21, 2011
Sure Jordan Rankin had a blinder in the Q Cup last weekend, but it isn't near NRL standard and he doesn't have anywhere near the guile of skipper Scott Prince, without whose generalship the Titans will struggle. But they should be basking in their 25-14 walloping of the Bulldogs at the last start. The Knights welcome back Danny Buderus who will be extremely valuable - if he is fit. This will be decided by the packs.
Dragons V Eels: At WIN Jubilee Oval, 7.30pm
Head-to-head: Played 24, Dragons 11, Eels 11, draws 2
Last meeting: 14-14 draw, round 13, 2011The Dragons may have struck out in the past two weeks with golden-point losses, but their luck is about to change - they play the Eels tomorrow night. A bonding session at Kiama - for a day and night - during the bye week seems fairly typical of the half-pie manner in which the Eels have done most things this season. Having lost 17 or their past 18 games away from home, Jubilee Oval is about to become another bleak venue for this once-proud club.
Panthers V Sea Eagles: At Centrebet, 2pm
Head-to-head: Played 76, Sea Eagles 49, Panthers 26, draws 1
Last meeting: Sea Eagles 30-nil, round 6, 2012
The most prudent question to ask here is whether the Panthers have improved since their 30-nil drubbing seven weeks ago, and the answer is an emphatic no. And even though Manly has four backing up from Origin and Kieran Foran in some doubt, they look absolute certainties. The non-appearance of Michael Jennings robs the Panthers of strike power, as well as a few hundred through the gate I'd suspect.
Tigers V Cowboys: At Campbelltown Stadium, 3pm
Head-to-head: Played 24, Tigers 13, Cowboys 11
Last meeting: Tigers 38-18, round 19, 2011
Any time these sides clash, memories of the brilliant performance of the Tigers in the 2005 grand final come flooding back, and the thought process becomes clouded. That was eight years ago, which is when the Cowboys last won at Campbelltown - the Tigers have won seven of the past eight clashes between the two sides at the suburban venue. With four Origin players backing up and minus Tariq Sims, the Cowboys are unlikely to end a four-game Tigers winning streak.
Roosters V Bulldogs: At Allianz, 7pm
Head-to-head: Played 158, Roosters 78, Bulldogs 75, draws 5
Last meeting: Roosters 32-28, round 21, 2011
This shapes as yet another Sydney-based blockbuster - the third in two weeks - but only if both teams bring their best form. Both have been terribly inconsistent, but are hot when the engine is purring. The loss of Shaun Kenny-Dowall for five weeks robs the Roosters of their most lethal attacking weapon, and fans are waiting for youngster Tautau Moga to live up to his wraps. The forward clash should be a ripper and will decide the result.
Byes: Warriors, Sharks