The Panthers need playmaker James Maloney to deliver the goods. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
The Panthers need playmaker James Maloney to deliver the goods. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 12

THURSDAY NIGHT

Panthers V Sea Eagles

Panthers Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 88, Sea Eagles 52, Panthers 35, drawn 1

Last met: Sea Eagles 28-24, round 20, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Panthers $1.90, Sea Eagles $1.90

Dumped from the Blues' Origin team after nine successive appearances, Panthers spearhead James Maloney needs to stand taller than ever if his team is to win this. Centres Waqa Blake and Dean Whare have joined an injury list already containing key personnel, and Nathan Cleary is absent on Origin duty. And while one win since round four doesn't do much for the Panthers' standing on the ladder, a victory at home against the Sea Eagles would be massive for team morale. Brad Parker (broken jaw) joins a hospital ward full of injured Eagles, and without leaders Daly Cherry-Evans and Jake Trbojevic they are vulnerable despite their 22-20 winning record at Penrith.

TIP - Panthers

FRIDAY NIGHT

Eels V Rabbitohs

Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

History: Played 126, Rabbitohs 69, Eels 54, drawn 3

Last met: Rabbitohs 26-20, round 20, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Eels $1.62, Rabbitohs $2.28

Unaffected by Origin selection, playing at their palatial new home ground and with troops returning from injury, the Eels will not have a better opportunity than tomorrow night to beat outright premiership leader the Rabbitohs. Clinging on to eighth berth by a single percentage point, the Eels allowed an 8-nil lead to slip last weekend for a third successive loss. They badly need the two points on offer here. And with the Rabbitohs minus Origin stars Cody Walker, Dane Gagai, Damien Cook and Cameron Murray, and champion halfback Adam Reynolds unlikely to play, Wayne Bennett's men appear ripe for the picking. Which version of the 2019 Eels' team turns up is the burning question.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has been dealt a poor hand by Origin. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has been dealt a poor hand by Origin. Picture: Phil Hillyard

TIP - Eels

SATURDAY

Bulldogs V Raiders

ANZ Stadium, 7.35pm

History: Played 67, Bulldogs 37, Raiders 30

Last met: Raiders 32-28, round 17, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $1.95, Radiers $1.85

Even though this is the only NRL match to be played on Sunday, the cavernous former Olympic Stadium is sure to be deserted when the vastly understrength Raiders take on $251 premiership outsiders the Bulldogs. On the back of a shock loss to the Cowboys - their third in succession - the Raiders go into this without Origin reps Nick Cotric, Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii, as well as the high-class injured quartet of Joran Rapana, Joe Leilua, John Bateman and Josh Hodgson. Surely the near full-strength Bulldogs, who have been in the contest in the majority of their eight losses this season, can bank two much-needed points against their down-and-out opponent.

TIP - Bulldogs

SUNDAY

Titans V Cowboys

Cbus Super Stadium, 4.05pm

History: Played 22, Cowboys 14, Titans 8

Last met: Cowboys 28-14, round 8, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Titans $1.72, Cowboys $2.10

Promoting this clash a few weeks as a Queensland derby between two sides coming off a win would have seemed a fantasy, but it happened - the Titans and Cowboys both won last round, and won impressively. On paper the Titans, with only Jai Arrow on Origin duty, look the stronger, while the Cowboys will be sorely tested without Josh McGuire, Justin O'Neill, Matt Scott and Michael Morgan. But the Titans are below strength too with Michael Gordon, Phillip Sami, Nathan Peats and skipper Ryan James sidelined. Despite the Cowboys having won the past eight clashes between these teams, the home ground advantage may just tip the scales in favour of the Titans.

Titans playmaker Ash Taylor gets the opportunity to shine against the Cowboys. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Titans playmaker Ash Taylor gets the opportunity to shine against the Cowboys. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

TIP - Titans

BYE: Broncos, Dragons, Knights, Roosters, Sharks, Storm, Tigers, Warriors

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