The Broncos and Roosters clash shapes as a highlight of the round after tempers boiled over the last time they met.
The Broncos and Roosters clash shapes as a highlight of the round after tempers boiled over the last time they met. DAN PELED

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 24

News Regional rugby league columnist Tony Durkin previews round 24 matches, including the Broncos showdown with the Roosters.

TIGERS V SEA EAGLES

Thursday, 7.50pm, Campbelltown Stadium

History: Played 26, Sea Eagles 15, Tigers 11. Last met: Tigers 38-12, round 6, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $1.55, Sea Eagles $2.50

In reality, this clash is for nothing except pride because the Tigers have run their race for the top eight and the Sea Eagles are looking a basket case. But while the match may mean zilch to the ladder, a strong defensive side - the Tigers - against the often-vibrant attack of the Sea Eagles should at least be worth a Thursday night TV appointment. TIP - Tigers

WARRIORS V PANTHERS

Friday, 6pm (AEST), Mt Smart Stadium

History: Played 40, Panthers 23, Warriors 16, drawn 1. Last met: Panthers 36-4, round 17, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Warriors $1.67, Panthers $2.25

It is patently obvious the Panthers are on the slide and their once seemingly-safe top-four spot will be gone if they lose this - which is certainly on the cards. But fans can have no confidence in the Warriors either when, with a finals berth at stake, they surrendered to the lowly Bulldogs last weekend. Both teams will be desperate for improvement after last week's shock losses and the comfort of home should prevail for the Warriors, who are without Blake Green but welcome back Tohu Harris. TIP - Warriors

Johnathan Thurston at training ahead of his last home game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Johnathan Thurston at training ahead of his last home game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds

COWBOYS V EELS

Friday, 7.50pm, 1300 SMILES

History: Played 39, Eels 20, Cowboys 18, drawn 1. Last met: Eels 20-14, round 14, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: $1.50, Eels $2.65

So poorly are the Cowboys currently regarded that they are at the juicy odds of $1.50 to win this, the final home game in the fabulous career of their courageous skipper Johnathan Thurston. And, to highlight the 2018 crisis up north, it is against the just as poorly-performed Eels. But far worse is the reality that the loser may well finish with the wooden spoon. Surely JT's teammates, with Jason Taumalolo and Matt Scott on board, will not permit the unthinkable to happen. TIP - Cowboys

RAIDERS V RABBITOHS

Saturday, 3pm, GIO Stadium

History: Played 53, Raiders 31, Rabbitohs 22. Last met: Rabbitohs 42-22, round 7, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Raiders $2.45, Rabbitohs $1.57

Their woeful record in close games in recent seasons highlights the fact the Raiders cannot perform under pressure. But now, with their season as good as over, the best attacking team in the NRL (24 points a game) is ready to pillage points from the finals contenders and the ladder-sliding Rabbitohs are next in their sights. The return of some tall timber, including skipper Greg Inglis, will boost the Rabbitohs who desperately need to win this on finals eve. Some outstanding individual clashes beckon, none better than scheming dummy-halves Damien Cook and Josh Hodgson. TIP - Rabbitohs

Cameron Smith is no certainty to play this weekend for the Storm. Picture: AAP
Cameron Smith is no certainty to play this weekend for the Storm. Picture: AAP

TITANS V STORM

Saturday, 5.30pm, Cbus Super Stadium

History: Played 18, Storm 12, Titans 6. Last met: Storm 28-14, round 10, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Titans $2.85, Storm $1.44

Melbourne may sit atop the points table but rarely during the 16-season coaching stint of Craig Bellamy have they looked more vulnerable than this coming weekend. A host of injuries and the suspension of Will Chambers has the Storm on edge as they clash against the unpredictable Titans on the Gold Coast. Much depends on the availability of Cameron Smith - without him the Storm are very much beatable. TIP - Storm

ROOSTERS V BRONCOS

Saturday, 7.30pm, Allianz Stadium

History: Played 47, Broncos 28, Roosters 19. Last met: Broncos 28-22, round 11, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.50, Broncos $2.65

In their 30th NRL season the Broncos have earned the unflattering moniker of the 'yo-yo' team, which is deserved. After being down for successive weeks against two cellar-dwellers, they produced arguably their best form of the season in beating the Rabbitohs to keep their finals hopes alive. Conversely, while the Roosters were beaten last weekend, they look more solid and, with Luke Keary returning have the minor premiership in their sights. The clash between fiery Blues Origin centres Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts looms as mouth-watering. TIP - Roosters

Andrew Fifita will attract plenty of attention after his outburst last weekend.
Andrew Fifita will attract plenty of attention after his outburst last weekend.

SHARKS V KNIGHTS

Sunday, 2pm, SCG Stadium

History: Played 51, Knights 27, Sharks 23, drawn 1. Last met: Sharks 48-10, round 12, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: $1.36, Knights $3.20

They haven't been brilliant, but unlike some other premiership contenders the Sharks are solid and with Wade Graham and Jayden Brailey returning should have too much power up front for the Knights, who have found some consistent late-season form. One factor in the Sharks' favour is their winning daytime form in 2018 - six from seven. Not surprisingly, Andrew Fifita is on queue to become the competition's most-penalised player. TIP - Sharks

DRAGONS V BULLDOGS

Sunday, 4.10pm, Jubilee Stadium

History: Played 35, Bulldogs 23, Dragons 12. Last met: Dragons 18-16, round 14, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: $1.57, Bulldogs $2.45

The army of Dragons supporters will be buoyed by the overdue return to winner's list last weekend, albeit an ugly one. But to shore up a vital top-four spot they need to beat the Bulldogs - who have won three of their past four - and beat them well. In a major blow, the Dragons have lost Paul Vaughan for the season. TIP - Dragons