Durko's Dissections for round 22
DRAGONS V BRONCOS
WIN Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 35, Broncos 21, Dragons 14
Last met: Broncos 26-0, round 6, 2016
THE result of this will signal the end for one of the teams. If the Dragons lose, their slim finals hopes are gone; for the Broncos, a loss will mean they are no hope of winning the premiership, even if they do make the top eight. But surely, with three Test forwards returning and the Dragons minus key players including Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell, the Broncos can muster enough missing teamwork to beat a team that has averaged a meagre 13 points a game. While the struggling halves from both sides will need to step up tonight, it's up front where this game will be decided.
TIP - Broncos
EELS V SEA EAGLES
Pirtek Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 135, Sea Eagles 82, Eels 49, drawn 4
Last met: Eels 22-10, round 7, 2016
THEY may hold a resounding record over the Eels in their previous 135 matches played, but for the Sea Eagles it is a different story at Pirtek Stadium, with the score locked at 11 apiece. But since the light went out on the finals hopes of the Eels, their 18-round resilience has abated. Conversely, the Sea Eagles have found form and need to continue their winning run to remain in contention. Spearheaded by Daly Cherry-Evans, the Trbojevic brothers and a rejuvenated Darcy Lussick, with an extremely tough run home, Manly cannot afford to let this one slip.
TIP - Sea Eagles
KNIGHTS V BULLDOGS
Hunter Stadium, 3pm
History: Played 42, Bulldogs 21, Knights 20, drawn 1
Last met: Bulldogs 20-18, round 25, 2015
COURAGEOUS they may be, but the struggling Knights can be a major factor in playing some teams into form, and that could the case against the season-long stuttering Bulldogs. On the edge of the top four but with an unflattering for and against, Des Hasler's men need an explosive performance and a big win to not only get them back on track, but to keep those slim top-four chances alive. And even though Jarrod Mullen returns and the Knights have the wood on the Dogs in Newcastle, an upset is not on the radar.
TIP - Bulldogs
SHARKS V RAIDERS
Southern Cross Group Stadium, 5.30pm
History: Played 65, Sharks 35, Raiders 30
Last met: Sharks 40-16, round 7, 2016
MANY questions about both teams will be answered come 7.30 on Saturday night. Are the Raiders the real deal? Can their fragile defence - which is conceding almost 20 points a game - stand up against the red-hot attack of the Sharks? How will the Sharks bounce back from their first stumble in 16 rounds? And will the Sharks' incredible 20-10 winning record at home against their opponents be the deciding factor? Unquestionably the match of weekend, the result will have a bearing on the minor premiership as well as the make-up of the top four. While the suspension of James Maloney is massive, the Sharks will be stung by Monday night's result and should bounce back.
TIP - Sharks
STORM V RABBITOHS
AAMI Park, 7.30pm
History: Played 25, Storm 21, Rabbitohs 4
Last met: Storm 16-12, round 10, 2015
Keen to bolster their already-impressive for-and-against record, the Storm will take no prisoners against the under-siege Rabbitohs. With a long injury list now including Luke Keary, even the return of Greg Inglis is unlikely to prevent this being the final straw for the frustrated Michael Maguire, who last weekend suffered his biggest loss as an NRL coach. With Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk pulling the strings, the Storm continues to gain momentum and is on target to capture its fifth minor premiership.
TIP - Storm
TITANS V WARRIORS
Cbus Super Stadium, 2pm
History: Played 19, Warriors 12, Titans 7
Last met: Warriors 27-18, round 17, 2016
ALREADY with eight NRL squad members injured, including outstanding halfback Kane Elgey, the finals hopes of the courageous Titans will be dealt a savage blow if Tyrone Roberts is sidelined for this. Following Monday's thrilling golden-point draw with the Sharks, the Titans face another acid test, with the Warriors fresh from their own golden-point dramas. Just the lone point separates the two teams on the ladder and this could be a season-defining result. Interestingly, the Warriors have a 5-4 winning advantage on the Gold Coast and on the back of round 21 results, might just improve on that stat.
TIP - Warriors
TIGERS V COWBOYS
Leichhardt Oval, 4pm
History: Played 31, Tigers 16, Cowboys 15
Last met: Cowboys 8-0, round 11, 2015
JOHNATHAN Thurston has not been named, but the "will he, won't he” conjecture will last until Sunday morning. And although the Cowboys would like him on board, the fact Luke Brooks is out of the Tigers mix for up to five weeks makes Thurston's absence a little more palatable. Keen to finish in the top two, the Cowboys need to win their remaining five games and hope for other results to go their way, so victory here is a must. But the Tigers have found form and with their finals hopes hinging on this, they will be desperate.
TIP - Cowboys
PANTHERS V ROOSTERS
Pepper Stadium, 7pm
History: Played 86, Roosters 53, Panthers 32, drawn 1
Last met: Panthers 20-16, round 7, 2016
TRENT Robinson is adamant the 15th-placed Roosters do not aim to be party poopers now that they have finally discovered their mojo, but they won't mind settling some scores from earlier in the season, starting with the Panthers on Monday night. Back to near full strength, the Roosters were outstanding last week and on that showing might be too physical for the Panthers, whose form all season has been hot and cold. Like so many other teams, a win in this is critical for the Panthers.
TIP - Roosters