Durko's dissections: NRL previews for Round 7
ROOSTERS 'freak' Latrell Mitchell will present a big challenge for the Dragons defence when he lines up at five-eighth in the Anzac Day blockbuster.
Mitchell, who slotted a 40-metre field goal to steer the Roosters to a golden-point win over the Storm on Friday night, has been named in the No.6 jersey in place of the injured Luke Keary.
Keary has not recovered from the concussion he suffered against the Storm.
Mitchell, described by Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner as an athletic "freak", has already impressed at five-eighth when he filled in there earlier in the season and Dragons rival Corey Norman is aware of the challenge he will be facing in the SCG showdown.
"He's big, powerful, a natural footballer who knows rugby league," Norman said.
"So wherever he goes in the field, centre, five-eighth ... he's going to be dangerous."
ROOSTERS v DRAGONS
At SCG, Thursday, 4.05pm
History: Played 39, Dragons 20, Roosters 18, drawn 1. Last met: Roosters 36-18, round 20, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Roosters $1.40, Dragons $2.90
If the excitement these teams have provided NRL fans this season - and in particular last weekend - is a benchmark, this shapes as yet another classic Anzac Day clash. An average of three points have separated them on this special day in their past 17 meetings, with the Dragons holding an 11-6 edge, including wins in the only two previous clashes at the SCG. The massive loss of Luke Keary by the Roosters is partly offset by the return of skipper Jake Friend. No more than four points have separated them in the past four clashes, and this should be no different. TIP - Roosters
STORM v WARRIORS
At AAMI Park, Thursday, 7.50pm
History: Played 42, Storm 24, Warriors 16, drawn 2. Last met: Storm 12-6, round 19, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Storm $1.17, Warriors $4.90
Could anyone seriously tip the Warriors after yet another below-par showing at home last weekend? Admittedly they were without playmaker Blake Green - who is returning - but apart from skipper Roger Tuivasa-Scheck they yet again looked inept in attack. With the Storm keen to avenge their first loss of the season and having won their past six against the Warriors, only the hope of some Anzac spirit from the across the ditch can avert a potential whitewash. TIP - Storm
BULLDOGS v COWBOYS
At ANZ Stadium, Friday, 6.00pm
History: Played 37, Bulldogs 22, Cowboys 15. Last met: Bulldogs 27-10, round 6, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $1.90, Cowboys $1.90
Despite hanging from the bottom rung of the ladder and conceding 26 points a game, the Bulldogs have shown heaps of courage - as they did in their 14-6 loss to the Rabbitohs at the weekend. But courage doesn't beat class and, at long last, the Cowboys have seemingly woken from their slumber with skipper Michael Morgan finding his leadership guile. Back at the scene of their 2015 grand final victory, the Cowboys should win - even if Jason Taumalolo doesn't play. TIP - Cowboys
PANTHERS v RABBITOHS
At Panthers Stadium, Friday, 7.55pm
History: Played 81, Rabbitohs 45, Panthers 35, drawn 1. Last met: Panthers 18-14, round 2, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Panthers $2.14, Rabbitohs $1.70
With just 13 tries in six matches and the incumbent NSW halves leading them around the field, the Panthers' attack is seriously flawed. Add that to the fact they have missed the most tackles in the competition and it is little wonder they are struggling. Conversely, the Rabbitohs are humming along nicely while yet to jump into top gear, and anything but a Rabbitohs victory is difficult to foresee. TIP - Rabbitohs
TIGERS v TITANS
At Scully Park, Tamworth, Saturday, 5.30pm
History: Played 20, Titans 12, Wests Tigers 8. Last met: Titans 30-12, round 16, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $1.67, Titans $2.18
After conceding a meagre 13 points a game in the first five rounds, the Tigers caved in against the slippery Eels on Easter Monday to concede 51. Conversely, the Titans had averaged 13 points in attack before they ran rampant against the Knights a day earlier. What that means to two teams playing on a foreign ground - in Tamworth - is arguable, but without skipper Ryan James and Origin prop Jarrod Wallace, the Titans may struggle. TIP - Tigers
BRONCOS v SHARKS
At Suncorp Stadium, Saturday, 7.35pm
History: Played 56, Broncos 36, Sharks 20. Last met: Broncos 12-10, round 20, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.62, Sharks $2.28
With heavyweights the Rabbitohs and Roosters next in line, this borders on grand final day for the under-fire Broncos whose defence is the second worst in the competition. With Tevita Pangai Jnr and James Roberts returning and the Sharks down on troops - and at home where they have a 13-4 advantage over their opposition - surely this is the week the Broncos finally chalk up a win. But many hopefuls have predicted that in previous weeks. TIP - Broncos
SEA EAGLES v RAIDERS
At Lottoland, Sunday, 2.00pm
History: Played 55, Sea Eagles 33, Raiders 21, drawn 1. Last met: Raiders 21-20, round 12, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Sea Eagles $2.07, Raiders $1.75
They may not have been robbed, but the Sea Eagles were poorly treated last round and are showing courage - and class - in a surprisingly strong start to the season. But Ricky's Raiders, who have won on just 10 of 28 visits to Fortress Brookvale, are looming as the team to beat in 2019 and - with the best defence in the competition - look set to continue their red-hot start to the season. TIP - Raiders
KNIGHTS v EELS
At McDondald Jones Stadium, 4.05pm
History: Played 51, Knights 29, Eels 21, drawn 1. Last met: Knights 18-16, round 18, 2018. Ladbrokes odds: Knights $2.24, Eels $1.65
It has been an age since the Eels visited any ground as raging favourites but they do this weekend against the struggling Knights, despite having won on just eight of their 26 visits to Newcastle. Nathan Brown, with his coaching neck supposedly on the line, has shown remarkable patience with his floundering Knights, while Brad Arthur has had to change a winning combination to include Blake Ferguson. The electric Eels are specials. TIP - Eels