The Cowboys loom as a stern test for the Panthers.
The Cowboys loom as a stern test for the Panthers. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Durko's Dissections: NRL Round 4 previews

COWBOYS v PANTHERS

1300SMILES Stadium, Thursday 7.05pm (AEST)

Played: 36, Panthers 19, Cowboys 17. Last met: Panthers 24-16, Round 23, 2017

Coming off a shock loss and without halfback Nathan Cleary, the Panthers look sitting ducks in this. Tyrone Peachy and James Maloney against Thurston and Morgan is a no-contest and should be the boost to get the under-performing Cowboys back on track. With the massive Cowboys' six well overdue to provide some up-front muscle, the forward clash will be intriguing. Surprisingly, the Panthers have won on nine of their 17 visits to Townsville - but not on Thursday night.

TIP - Cowboys

Sam Burgess (centre) will have a big role to play for the Rabbitohs.
Sam Burgess (centre) will have a big role to play for the Rabbitohs. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

RABBITOHS v BULLDOGS

ANZ Stadium, Friday, 3.10pm (AEST)

Played: 156, Bulldogs 81, Rabbitohs 71, drawn 4. Last met: Rabbitohs 28-14, round 23, 2017

Before last weekend this looked like being the battle of the cellar dwellers, but both were surprise winners in round three and actually looked the goods. Not only is it difficult to split them on the basis of their indifferent form, but with both sharing ANZ Stadium as their home ground there is no advantage perceived in that area either, although the Dogs have won 16 of their past 26 clashes there. Forwards usually win these tight games and big Sam Burgess should give the Rabbitohs an edge.

TIP - Rabbitohs

Matt Moylan will make his return for the Sharks.
Matt Moylan will make his return for the Sharks. DAVE HUNT

SHARKS v STORM

SCG Stadium, Friday, 7.05pm (AEST)

Played: 34, Storm 22, Sharks 12. Last met: Storm 18-13, round 14, 2017

Although the Storm has historically ridden roughshod over the Sharks it is usually much closer at Shark Park, where the record is 8-6 to the premiers. After a stutter against the Tigers, the Storm were back to their best against the Cowboys - as were the Sharks against the Eels. Matt Moylan and Luke Lewis return for the Sharks, which is a plus, but after last week's big improvement the Storm should be too well organised, and potent.

TIP - Storm

Cooper Cronk (centre) holds court at Roosters training.
Cooper Cronk (centre) holds court at Roosters training. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

ROOSTERS v WARRIORS

Allianz Stadium, Saturday, 4.30pm (AEST)

Played: 38, Warriors 21, Roosters 16, drawn 1. Last met: Warriors 14-13, round 9, 2017

Irrespective of how well the Warriors play, the pundits just can't warm to them. Despite being unbeaten, they are still underdogs to the Roosters even though the stats at Allianz are a skinny 8-7 to the home side. But even though the Warriors have started well and displayed a surprising strength of character, the Roosters are already looking like the premiers-in-waiting. Class to the expected battle up front will be added by Cooper Cronk and Blake Green.

TIP - Roosters

Blake Austin has been dropped by Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
Blake Austin has been dropped by Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. LUKAS COCH

SEA EAGLES v RAIDERS

Lottoland, Saturday, 6.35pm (AEST)

Played: 53, Sea Eagles 32, Raiders 20, drawn 1. Last met: Sea Eagles, 46-8, round 9, 2017

The see-sawing season for the Sea Eagles took a turn for the worse on Monday with the salary cap breach sanctions, which on top of their 34-6 Saturday humiliation will test the character of the playing group. But while the Manly players may question the severity of their punishment, the Raiders should be querying their own character. To lose three successive matches in the manner they have raises questions over fitness, their culture and their will to win.

TIP - Sea Eagles

Brock Lamb has been named to start at five-eighth for the Knights.
Brock Lamb has been named to start at five-eighth for the Knights. DARREN PATEMAN

DRAGONS v KNIGHTS

WIN Stadium, Sunday, 4.10pm (AEST)

Played: 35, Dragons 24, Knights 11. Last met: Knights 21-14, round 21, 2017

With their bubble having been burst by the Roosters last weekend, the Knights face the reality of the honeymoon ending and a clash against the front-running Red V, who are averaging 38 points a game. If that isn't a big enough ask, the Knights have thrown in rookie five-eighth Brock Lamb against the most potent halves combination in the competition. Of interest though is the Knights' 2-1 winning record at WIN Stadium.

TIP - Dragons

Bryce Cartwright has been relegated to the Titans bench.
Bryce Cartwright has been relegated to the Titans bench. DARREN ENGLAND

BRONCOS v TITANS

Suncorp Stadium, Sunday, 6.30pm (AEST)

Played: 23, Broncos 18, Titans 5. Last met: Broncos 54-0, round 22, 2017

Although the Broncos won ugly last weekend, it was a much more palatable result than the Titans'. Coast Coast's defence was paper thin following two decent showings to open the season. But despite having beaten the Broncos only once at Suncorp in their 12 previous outings, expect the Titans to muscle up for this Easter Sunday clash where pride, as much as points, is on the line. The Broncos are weakened by the loss of Corey Oates and Tevita Pangai Jnr.

TIP - Broncos

Benji Marshall has recovered from an ankle injury to play the Eels.
Benji Marshall has recovered from an ankle injury to play the Eels. DAN HIMBRECHTS

TIGERS v EELS

ANZ Stadium, Monday, 4.10pm (AEST)

Played: 35, Eels 20, Tigers 14, drawn 1. Last met: Eels 17-16, round 20, 2017

Having scored just 18 points in three matches, the Eels could ill afford to lose the strike of Jarryd Hayne and Bevan French, especially against a Tigers side that has conceded the least amount of points in the premiership to date. On paper the Tigers look certainties, but stranger things have happened.

TIP - Tigers



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