Cameron Smith's retirement from representative football means he will again lead the way for the Melbourne Storm. Picture: David Rowland/AAP
Cameron Smith's retirement from representative football means he will again lead the way for the Melbourne Storm. Picture: David Rowland/AAP

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 16

THURSDAY NIGHT

Dragons v Storm

WIN Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 36, Storm 25, Dragons 10, drawn 1

Last met: Storm 52-30, round 17, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $2.70, Storm $1.45

They may have six players on Origin duty and unavailable for tonight but indestructible skipper Cameron Smith is still on deck to lead the Storm, who sit six points clear at the top of the points table. On the other side of the ledger are the Dragons - at home in Wollongong admittedly but minus their four Origin players, plus the suspended Tariq Sims and injured leaders Gareth Widdop and James Graham. On paper this looks a foregone conclusion and the Dragons, needing to win to keep their finals hopes alive, will have to scrap like they did last weekend to take the points. But the Storm clouds continue to roll in and winning challenges like this one is part of their DNA.

TIP - Storm

FRIDAY NIGHT

Tigers v Roosters

Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm

History: Played 33, Roosters 24, Tigers 9

Last met: Roosters 42-12, round 8, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $2.55, Roosters $1.50

Overlooked again for the Blues, Latrell Mitchell is likely to make the Tigers feel the brunt of his frustration as east meets west tomorrow night. Almost incomprehensively, the premiers have just two players on Origin duty, but the Tigers will be without their skipper, Moses Mbye, so the ledger is fairly even on that count. But welcoming back Luke Keary and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a massive boost for the Roosters, who need to get back on track after losing four of their past five. Sitting just outside the eight on percentage, the Tigers are the real scrappers of this competition and unless the Roosters are on song, an upset is possible. When these teams last met, Mitchell terrorised the Tigers with 26 personal points, including a hat-trick.

TIP - Roosters

SATURDAY

Knights v Warriors

McDonald Jones Stadium, 7.35pm

History: Played 39, Warriors 20, Knights 18, drawn 1

Last met: Knights 36-18, round 8, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Knights $1.67, Warriors $2.20

Mitchell Pearce's failure to win Origin selection should help the Knights.  Picture: Getty Images
Mitchell Pearce's failure to win Origin selection should help the Knights. Picture: Getty Images

They may be again without the brilliant Kalyn Ponga, as well as key forwards Daniel Saifiti, David Klemmer and Tim Glasby, but the fifth-placed Knights, on the back of seven wins from their past eight starts, will still have Origin outcast Mitchell Pearce on board for this important clash. Apart from a hiccup against the Storm in round 14, the Knights have clinically turned around a disastrous start to the season and at their best look a genuine premiership contender. And the Warriors are still the Warriors - who can ever predict which version of this talented Kiwi-based team will turn up to play.

TIP - Knights

SUNDAY

Sharks v Broncos

Shark Park 4.05pm

History: Played 56, Broncos 36, Sharks 20

Last met: Broncos 29-6, round 8, 2019

Ladbrokes odds: Sharks $1.29, Broncos $3.60

Sharks coach John Morris described his team's performance last weekend as one of the worst he'd seen from the club, accused his players of being cocky and lamented their 15 unforced errors. But if he thinks he has problems, he needs to be in the shoes of Anthony Seibold, whose first season at the Broncos has just become even more shambolic. Needing to win eight of their final 10 matches to play finals football, not only do the Broncos have four of their best on Origin duty, Anthony Milford is missing, young halfback Tom Dearden is still injured and captain Darius Boyd is seemingly on auto pilot. At $1.29, the seventh-placed Sharks are over the odds.

TIP - Sharks

BYES: Bulldogs, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Titans

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