Garth Brennan is under increasing pressure as the Titans struggle to find form.
Garth Brennan is under increasing pressure as the Titans struggle to find form.

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 17


Panthers Stadium, Friday, 6pm

History: Played 19, Panthers 12, Titans 7. Last met: Titans 30-24, round 5, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Panthers $1.40 Titans $2.90

On the back of five successive wins following a dreadful start to the season, the Panthers could drive a knife through the NRL career of their former premiership-winning lower grade coach tomorrow night. Sitting equal last on the table and all hopes of a finals berth gone, Garth Brennan's Titans can now only play for pride - and the future of their coach. Fresh from a bye, both sides have motivation but the Panthers, at home, should stand taller. TIP - Panthers


McDonald Jones Stadium, tomorrow, 7.55pm

History: Played 47, Bulldogs 25, Knights 21, drawn 1. Last met: Knights 22-10, round 9, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Knights $1.40 Bulldogs $2.90

Down on troops, the Knights were brave last weekend before falling to the Warriors for just their second loss in the past eight rounds. However, conjecture remains on which of his four Origin players Nathan Brown may rest, which opens the door for the Bulldogs to cause successive upsets after beating the Sharks two weeks ago. But clinging to sixth and with eight teams within four points of them, the Knights are unlikely to allow another win to slip. TIP - Knights

Sam Burgess has been named to make his return from injury.
Sam Burgess has been named to make his return from injury. JOEL CARRETT


ANZ Stadium, Saturday, 3pm

History: Played 142, Sea Eagles 77, Rabbitohs 65. Last met: Sea Eagles 13-12, round 4, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Rabbitohs $1.57 Sea Eagles $2.36

In round four the unfancied Sea Eagles caused the first major boilover of the season in downing the unbeaten Rabbitohs. They have since travelled a rocky road, mainly because of injury to key players but, just two points behind the Rabbitohs in fifth place, still rate a premiership hope. The Bunnies have, conversely, hit a low point with four successive losses and desperately need a win, albeit possibly without any of the Burgess brothers. Much depends on possible Origin injuries. TIP - Sea Eagles


Suncorp Stadium, Saturday, 5.30pm

History: Played 42, Broncos 24, Warriors 18. Last met: Broncos 8-2, round 11, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.57 Warriors $2.36

Last Sunday's Baby Broncos' win was full of courage, as was their victory in New Zealand in round 11 when the stakes were just as high. And the stakes are high in this contest too, with both teams two points out of the eight and winning a must. Injuries and Origin have hit the Broncos yet again, while the Warriors are almost at full strength. And despite a poor record in Brisbane - winning on just four of their 12 visits - one of those rare Warriors victories was in the corresponding match last year. TIP - Broncos

Cameron Smith will play his 400th NRL game when the Storm take on the Sharks.
Cameron Smith will play his 400th NRL game when the Storm take on the Sharks. DANIEL POCKETT


AAMI Park, Saturday, 7.35pm

History: Played 38, Storm 23, Sharks 15. Last met: Sharks 20-18, round 8, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.33 Sharks $3.25

Melbourne has a remarkable record of success when celebrating a milestone, and none come bigger than the 400-game benchmark of skipper Cameron Smith on Saturday night. And with a six-point lead at the head of the table and an almost-clean bill of health - Origin conditional - they are in superb shape to uphold that ritual. But the Sharks have a recent record of upsetting the champion side, and have won five of their past eight clashes, two of them in Melbourne. And with three successive losses sliding them down to the ladder to equal eighth, they are absolutely desperate. TIP - Storm


Central Coast Stadium, Sunday, 2pm

History: Played 37, Roosters 26, Cowboys 11. Last met: Roosters 26-20, round 21, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.33 Cowboys $3.25

Six points adrift of the Storm in second place they may be, but the Roosters are still premiership favourites and should continue to endorse that title with a victory over the struggling Cowboys in Gosford. The premiers have a decided edge over this opposition, but most interest on Sunday will be on whether the decision by coach Trent Robinson to rest his Origin stars will backfire. A Cowboys win, in Gavin Cooper's 300th would be a massive upset. TIP - Roosters

Benji Marshall will play his 300th game.
Benji Marshall will play his 300th game. DAN HIMBRECHTS


Bankwest Stadium, Sunday, 4.05pm

History: Played 38, Eels 22, Tigers 15, drawn 1. Last met: Eels 51-6, round 6, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $2.07 Eels $1.75

This is an 'away' home game for the Eels with memories of their 51-6 smashing of the Tigers at the same venue in round six no doubt still sweet in their minds. Sitting seventh on the ladder, the Eels are being chased by a cluster of eight teams and cannot afford a slip, while the Tigers, although brave, can be found lacking in attack. A fitting celebration of Benji Marshall's 300th NRL match appears highly unlikely. TIP - Eels


WIN Stadium, Sunday, 6.10pm

History: Played 29, Raiders 17, Dragons 11, drawn 1. Last met: Dragons 25-18, round 11, 2019. Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $1.90 Raiders $1.90

No team will be sweating on the fitness of their Origin stars more than the Dragons, who will need all four to back up, and play well, if they are to beat the impressive Raiders. But sitting fourth, just two points adrift of second place, the Green Machine will still be filthy on their last-start loss to the Eels and the chance of them allowing another chance to slip is a long shot. TIP - Raiders

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