DANGER MAN: Ben Barba of the Sharks will be a key figure as his side seeks to secure the minor premiership against the Storm on Saturday night.
DANGER MAN: Ben Barba of the Sharks will be a key figure as his side seeks to secure the minor premiership against the Storm on Saturday night. CRAIG GOLDING

Durko's Dissections for round 26




Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm


History: Played 42, Broncos 25, Roosters 17


Last met: Roosters 32-16, round 21, 2016


BRONCOS fans will be hoping this clash mirrors the two visits to Brisbane by the Roosters last year - a gripping golden-try win in the first and a spectacular grand final qualifier victory in late September. And on the back of four successive wins and a massive lift in confidence, more of that form can be expected for the final home premiership match of skipper Corey Parker. The Roosters, who had recently burst back with some better showings - including a big win over the Broncos just five weeks ago - surrendered meekly when pressured by the Sharks on Saturday and may have run their 2016 race.

TIP: Broncos




ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm


History: Played 153, Bulldogs 80, Rabbitohs 69, drawn 4


Last met: Bulldogs 42-12, round 4, 2016


WITH the outside chance of a top-four berth at stake, surely the Bulldogs can reproduce something like the form that resulted in seven wins from eight matches before their successive losses to the Cowboys and Broncos. But questions are being asked about the leadership of their halves and the lack of potency out of dummy half, while the suspension of Sam Kasiano is hurting. As are the Roosters, the Rabbitohs are playing just for pride and that can quickly subside if the cards start to fall against them. This is the home ground of both clubs, but the Dogs hold a commanding 15-8 record here against the Rabbitohs.

TIP: Bulldogs




UOW Jubilee Oval, 3pm


History: Played 32, Dragons 22, Knights 10


Last met: Dragons 30-18, round 16, 2016


IF THE Dragons play like they did for the first 70 minutes against the Eels on Monday night, the Knights may well register just their second win of the season on Saturday. The Dragons have been awful and the end of the season can't come quickly enough for this dysfunctional outfit. Conversely, the Knights are courageous each week but are the victims of inexperience, a lack of talent and leadership. Surely the Dragons can end a really poor season on a high note.

TIP: Dragons



1300 SMILES Stadium, 5.30pm


History: Played 16, Cowboys 8, Titans 8


Last met: Cowboys 42-12, round 26, 2015


THEY may have lost three in a row before finding some late-season mojo, but the premiers are certainly back and will not allow the opportunity to finish in the top four, and have two bites at the finals cherry, slip through their fingers. And that means despite an impressive past month - and a good overall record against the Cowboys - the Titans will leave their finals fate firmly in the hands of others. Like the Broncos, the Cowboys are peaking at the right time and maestro Johnathan Thurston now has them on track for back-to-back titles.

TIP: Cowboys



AAMI Park, 7.30pm


History: Played 30, Storm 20, Sharks 10


Last met: Sharks 14-6, round 4, 2016


LAST weekend's big win over the Roosters may have pulled the Sharks out of their recent mire, but an even bigger effort will be needed to win this. The Storm is certainly vulnerable, having conceded 11 tries in its past three matches, and showing rare signs of frustration last weekend. With the honour of the minor premiership at stake, this should be one of the highlights of the weekend, but anything other than a comprehensive Storm victory will surprise. For the Sharks to spring an upset the likes of Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes must fire.

TIP: Storm




Leichhardt Oval, 2pm


History: Played 31, Tigers 18, Raiders 13


Last met: Raiders 60-6, round 8, 2016


RICKY Stuart has hinted he might rest players if the Raiders can't improve their position on the ladder after learning of the result of the Storm-Sharks clash, but that seems a long shot. No team wants to play finals footy on the back of a loss, which the Raiders might just suffer if he does rest key men. Even at full strength the Raiders will find this a tough assignment, especially at the graveyard that is Leichardt Oval. The Tigers were outstanding against the Warriors last weekend and will be in this until the hooter.

TIP: Raiders



Mt Smart Stadium, 4pm (AEST)


History: Played 35, Eels 19, Warriors 16


Last met: Warriors 17-13, round 10, 2015


WITH nothing hinging on the result, the unreliable Warriors will more than likely win in a canter and - yet again - pose the "what if" question. Admittedly they were the victims of poor refereeing decisions last weekend but they fell apart when the pressure was applied - a trademark weakness in most of their 21 years in the competition. On the other hand, had the Eels not been deducted 12 points for salary cap breaches they would be playing for a finals berth - and will still exert that same intensity and grit, irrespective of their standing on the table.

TIP: Warriors



Pepper Stadium, 6.30pm


History: Played 82, Sea Eagles 50, Panthers 31, drawn 1


Last met: Panthers 31-24, round 14, 2016


ALREADY assured of a game in week one of the finals - and maybe even at home if other results fall their way - the Panthers will want to hit the go button following last Saturday's sneaky win against the Titans. Successive wins against three teams below them on the ladder may have given them a false sense of security, and against a greatly weakened Manly line-up this is their chance to sound a genuine warning to fellow finalists.

TIP: Panthers

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