Panthers player Nathan Cleary will make his return from injury.
Panthers player Nathan Cleary will make his return from injury. DAVE HUNT

NRL Previews for Round 11

TONIGHT

 

PANTHERS V TIGERS

Panthers Stadium, 7.50pm

 

History: Played 31, Panthers 19, Tigers 12

 

Last met: Tigers 28-14, Round 22, 2017

 

With Luke Brooks apparently being considered seriously as a NSW halfback candidate, the return of Nathan Cleary tonight could not be better timed - for Blues selectors, Penrith fans and the curiosity barometer. Despite a host of injuries, the Panthers have been outstanding in their seven wins. And the Tigers have performed much better than most expected and are the third-best defensive team in the competition. While the clash of the halves will be crucial, the pressure aimed at Cleary by a forward pack coached by his dad adds a huge dose of intrigue.

TIP - Panthers

TOMORROW

 

EELS V WARRIORS

ANZ Stadium, 6pm

 

History: Played 38, Eels 21, Warriors 17

 

Last met: Eels 32-24, round 13, 2017

 

After such a promising and exciting start to the season, surely we are not about to see the Warriors of old re-emerge? They were back to their former tackle-shy ways last weekend and even though guns Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke missed the match, the signs were concerning. But then the Eels will hardly be a form yardstick, sitting alone at the bottom of the ladder and with more off-field dramas leading into this weekend.

TIP - Warriors

BRONCOS V ROOSTERS

Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm

 

History: Played 46, Broncos 27, Roosters 19

 

Last met: Roosters 24-22, qualifying final, 2017

 

If two more injuries to key forwards on the back of an apathetic performance against the Sea Eagles wasn't enough fodder to make Broncos fans squirm, the return to form of the Roosters in round 10 will give them nightmares. With the shackles finally released, the pre-season favourites were outstanding against the Warriors. Unless Darius Boyd - in particular - and his team lift their game majorly, another embarrassing whipping of the Broncos is on the cards.

TIP - Roosters

SATURDAY

 

TITANS V KNIGHTS

Cbus Super Stadium, 3pm

 

History: Played 18, Knights 10, Titans 8

 

Last met: Titans 38-8, round 9, 2017

 

Now sitting second last on the ladder - but with the worst points differential of any team - the injury-hit Titans could well slip to the bottom rung if beaten in this, which appears the most likely outcome. With a 5-5 record, the Knights have been one of the big improvers in 2018 and although only the Titans have conceded more points, Newcastle is good at closing out close matches - which this might be.

TIP - Knights

COWBOYS V RABBITOHS

1300SMILES Stadium, 5.30pm

 

History: Played 32, Cowboys 17, Rabbitohs 14, drawn 1

 

Last met: Cowboys 23-10, round 19, 2017

 

So dominant have the Cowboys been in recent seasons, the Rabbitohs have saluted the judge against them just once in their past eight meetings, but that record is set to be corrected on Saturday in Townsville. The rampaging Rabbitohs, who are averaging 25 points a game under new coach Anthony Siebold, could massacre the calamitous Cowboys, who are leaking an average of 22 points. Incredibly, the Cowboys are unchanged, but this will be the last-chance saloon for some.

TIP - Rabbitohs

STORM V SEA EAGLES

AAMI Park, 7.35pm

 

History: Played 32, Storm 18, Sea Eagles 13, drawn 1

 

Last met: Storm 40-6, round 21, 2017

 

Despite not having beaten the Storm in four years, and with a poor record in Melbourne, the Sea Eagles will not get a better opportunity than this to reverse that trend. Without the suspended Cameron Smith and Sam Kasiano, and Jessie Bromwich still injured, Storm's forward stocks have been battered - and the Sea Eagles have improved markedly in the past two weeks. Daly Cherry-Evans gets another chance to show his wares, as does talented back-up Storm hooker Brandon Smith.

TIP - Storm

SUNDAY

 

DRAGONS V RAIDERS

Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee, 2pm

 

History: Played 28, Raiders 17, Dragons 10, drawn 1

 

Last met: Raiders 18-14, round 19, 2017

 

The Raiders yet again consolidated their 'Faders' nickname with their fourth last-minute loss of the season at the weekend. Ricky Stuart is understandably perplexed but the coach needs to get them to rebound very quickly, otherwise they will be cannon fodder for the Dragons, who also are looking to bounce back from their second loss of 2018. After an average game last week, Ben Hunt will be keen to show Queensland selectors he is their No.7 man.

TIP - Dragons

SHARKS V BULLDOGS

GIO Stadium, 4.10pm

 

History: Played 89, Bulldogs 54, Sharks 33, drawn 2

 

Last met: Sharks 9-8, round 12, 2017

 

They may only have three wins but the Bulldogs have shown in recent weeks they are a better side than their win/loss record reveals. And despite a dominant record over the Sharks in the Shire, the Dogs will need to stay in the contest for 80 minutes to beat the home side, who have gnawed their way to four successive wins - each of them by the skin of their teeth.

TIP - Sharks

Compiled by Tony Durkin



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