Dane Gagai will be key for the Rabbitohs against the Dragons.
Dane Gagai will be key for the Rabbitohs against the Dragons. Cameron Spencer

Durko's dissections: NRL previews for round 2

News Regional rugby league columnist TONY DURKIN previews the action coming up in round two of the NRL season.

 

 

 

TONIGHT

DRAGONS V RABBITOHS

Jubilee Stadium 6.50pm (AEST)

History: Played 31, Dragons 17, Rabbitohs 14

Last met: Rabbitohs 13-12, semi-final, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Dragons $2.40, Rabbitohs $1.55

On the back of opening-round form, the Rabbitohs look specials to beat a dysfunctional Dragons without both their Kangaroo forwards, Jack De Belin and Tyson Frizzell. The Rabbitohs were outstanding against the premiers with their kicking game exceptional - an area where the Dragons struggled - and their forwards dominant. Adjusting to the key positional changes, the Dragons may still be a few weeks away from breathing fire.

TIP - Rabbitohs

 

TOMORROW

RAIDERS V STORM

GIO Stadium 5.00pm (AEST)

History: Played 41, Storm 30, Raiders 11

Last met: Storm 44-10, round 20, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Raiders $2.32, Storm $1.60

Ricky Stuart's Raiders showed much of what they lacked last season in their opening round win - outstanding defence, composure and discipline. And if they are to be any chance against the machine-like Storm, they will need to reproduce that, and more, tomorrow evening. But if the Storm start with the same intensity as last week, the Raiders' woeful home record against them - seven wins from 20 hostings - will continue. The Munster-Wighton clash is salivating.

TIP - Storm

 

Tevita Pangai Jnr will be awelcome boost for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Tevita Pangai Jnr will be awelcome boost for the Broncos. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

 

BRONCOS V COWBOYS

Suncorp Stadium 6.55pm (AEST)

History: Played 50, Broncos 32, Cowboys 16, drawn 2

Last met: Cowboys 34-30, round 22, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Broncos $1.57, Cowboys $2.36

Tevita Pangai Junior, called in to replace suspended workhorse Matt Lodge, has to match his talk with his actions in what shapes as yet another local-derby blockbuster. Pangai Junior wants to model himself on Jason Taumalolo, the wrecking ball that ran for 300 metres last week, and here is his chance. While the Cowboys were super impressive in round one, the Broncos were courageous but outplayed, and need their under-fire halves to take control. With five ex-Broncos returning to Suncorp, it could be another week before the Broncos celebrate a victory.

TIP - Cowboys

 

SATURDAY

SHARKS V TITANS

Shark Park, 2pm (AEST)

History: Played 18, Sharks 9, Titans 8, drawn 1

Last met: Sharks 10-9, round 8, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Sharks $1.36, Titans $3.10

Returning home, where they have a 6-4 record against the Titans, will be a much-needed boost for the Sharks who looked out of sorts last weekend following a disruptive off season. But the much-hyped Titans appeared even more disorganised when failing to score a point without their chief halves pairing. Again minus Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts, this looks a bridge too far for the Titans, particularly as the Sharks will be stung by their poor completion rate of 60 per cent.

TIP - Sharks

 

KNIGHTS V PANTHERS

McDonald Jones Stadium 4.30pm (AEST)

History: Played 47, Knights 24, Panthers 20, drawn 3

Last met: Knights 20-12, round 23, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Knights $.1.75, Panthers $2.07

Successive home games to kick-start their apparent re-birth is gold for the Knights, who revel in the late Saturday afternoon timeslot. The experience brought on board this season has already borne fruit and the Knights looked confident all over the park against the Sharks last weekend. Conversely - off-season dramas aside - the Panthers were flat, making just two clean breaks in their loss to the Eels.

TIP - Knights

 

 

Jake Friend rewarded owners in the season opener. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Jake Friend in action for the Roosters last week.

SEA EAGLES V ROOSTERS

Lottoland 6.35pm (AEST)

History: Played 132, Sea Eagles 84, Roosters 46, drawn 2

Last met: Roosters 56-24, round 19, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Sea Eagles $3.40. Roosters $3.40

The Sea Eagles may have a 36-14 winning record against the Roosters at Brookvale, but that will matter little as the premiers vow to hit back from last week's opening-round loss. It took the Sea Eagles 79 minutes to score last weekend and against a brutal Roosters defence, which conceded an average two tries a game last season and were 92 per cent efficient in that area last weekend, they face an uphill battle again. Down of key attacking troops, the Sea Eagles are in for a ruthless pecking.

TIP - Roosters

 

SUNDAY

BULLDOGS V EELS

ANZ Stadium 3.05pm (AEST)

History: Played 144, Bulldogs 76, Eels 63, drawn 5

Last met: Eels 14-8, round 19, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Bulldogs $2.20, Eels $1.70

The second-oldest contest in the competition may have history on its side - 144 clashes - but scant else adds intrigue to this match. Pulverised last weekend, the Bulldogs appear set for a long, cold winter with one line break summing up their poor start. And while the Eels defied the tipsters, they weren't exactly on fire themselves but have won five of their past six against the 'Dogs.

TIP - Bulldogs

 

TIGERS V WARRIORS

Campbelltown Stadium, 5.10pm (AEST)

History Played 29, Tigers 15, Warriors 14

Last met: Warriors 26-4, round 9, 2018

Ladbrokes odds: Tigers $1.80, Warriors $2.05

How well does Kiwi coach Michael McGuire know the eight-man Warriors contingent of his national team? That intel could be vital as the Tigers take on the most impressive attacking machine of the opening round - a team that ran for almost 2000 metres, broke 38 tackles and passed the ball 266 times. While the Tigers were solid against the Sea Eagles in the wet, they will need to be magical to counter those stats.

TIP - Warriors