Johnathan Thurston
Johnathan Thurston Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

Thurston back in the mix for Cowboys clash with Dragons

TONIGHT

 

Dragons V Cowboys

  • History: Played 23, Cowboys 12, Dragons 11
  • Last met: Cowboys 32-22, round 24, 2012

At season's start, a bookie giving 4½ points start to the Cowboys against the Dragons would have been swamped, but such is the plight of the northerners that they could start even longer than that tonight.

Needing to win eight of their remaining 11 games just to make the play-offs, the Cowboys have rushed back Johnathan Thurston, but will be without James Tamou.

And fresh from a good win over the Knights after bidding Jamie Soward adieu, the Dragons are again formidable.

 

Sea Eagles V Bulldogs

  • History: Played 117, Sea Eagles 62, Bulldogs 50, drawn 5
  • Last met: Sea Eagles 20-6, round 5, 2013

What a ripper this clash should be - shame the Queensland viewers won't see it live.

After a sluggish start, the Bulldogs are again threatening as premiership contenders and although they conceded 26 points, their win over the Cowboys last weekend was very handy.

And even though beaten by the Warriors, the Sea Eagles still remain a genuine threat and will be hard to beat at home.

The forward battle will be tough, intriguing, and pivotal.

 

TOMORROW

 

Raiders V Panthers

  • History: Played 62, Panthers 31, Raiders 30, drawn 1
  • Last met: Panthers 32-10, round 1, 2013

With nine successive wins at home and seven of their remaining 12 games in Canberra, the Raiders are starting to look finals certainties and should be a class above the Panthers in this.

After a fairytale run for a few weeks the Panthers collapsed in a heap last weekend and may take some time to rebuild that confidence.

Opposing twins Reece and Travis Robinson will create an interesting sidelight to the clash.

 

Sharks V Eels

  • History: Played 77, Sharks 40, Eels 37
  • Last met: Eels 13-6, round 5, 2013

Finally, skipper Paul Gallen gets to make a cameo appearance for the Sharks - six weeks after he played two minutes in round eight.

And the Sharks will be seeking revenge, after being humbled by the Eels in round five and thrashed by the Storm last weekend.

Ricky Stuart has made some tough calls of late and although the Eels were courageous last week against the Roosters, without the inspirational Jarryd Hayne they are akin to a poor relation.

 

SUNDAY

 

Rabbitohs V Titans

  • History: Played 8, Rabbitohs 4, Titans 4
  • Last met: Rabbitohs 22-18, round 22, 2012

By naming a seven-man bench, Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire has thrown the veritable cat among the pigeons.

Sitting atop the NRL ladder with just two losses, the Rabbitohs are two wins away from a certain finals berth and it seems Maguire is keeping his players on their toes.

But if the Titans can replicate their best form, the Bunnies will be hopping big time in this one-off clash in Cairns.

If Dave Taylor outplays fellow Maroons Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen, things could become interesting.

 

Storm V Knights

  • History: Played 28, Storm 16, Knights 12
  • Last met: Storm 34-22, round 5, 2012

Melbourne's big three - Smith, Slater and Cronk - yet again showed they are all class when backing up from an Origin loss with outstanding form in the 38-6 wins over the Sharks.

And with further Origin disruption around the corner, nothing less can be expected from the trio this weekend.

Irrespective of whether Craig Gower makes a surprise first-up appearance, there is little to suggest the Knights can reverse this season's horrid away form.

 

Roosters V Warriors

  • History: Played 31, Warriors 17, Roosters 13, drawn 1
  • Last met: Roosters 16-14, round 2, 2013

What the Panthers taught the Warriors in their 62-6 thrashing in round 10 is anyone's guess, but on a three-match winning streak since, the Kiwis have scored 102 points and looked every inch a finals contender.

Sunday though, is D-Day.

The Roosters are tough, in top form and confident, and can match the attacking spark of the Warriors.

If both sides turn up to play, this should be a beauty.

 

MONDAY

 

Broncos V Tigers

  • History: Played 21, Broncos 16, Tigers 4, drawn 1
  • Last met: Broncos 20-10, round 7, 2013

Along with their northern counterparts, the Broncos have been the biggest disappointment of 2013, winning just once since they defeated the Tigers seven weeks ago.

If they can't beat them again on Monday night, with the Tigers still without an arsenal of top liners, the Broncos season is as good as over.

Defence is about attitude and their apparent poor attitude is reflected in the 116 points run past the Broncs in their past three outings.



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