GONE MISSING: Anthony Milford of the Brisbane Broncos has been out of sorts in recent weeks.
GONE MISSING: Anthony Milford of the Brisbane Broncos has been out of sorts in recent weeks. DAN PELED

Durko’s Dissections for round 21



Allianz Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 41, Broncos 25, Roosters 16

Last met: Broncos 31-12, prelim final, 2015

The absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a major blow for the Roosters, but losing Test forwards Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday to suspension could be finals-defining to the Broncos. Both sides are struggling, particularly in attack, and although the Broncos have much more at stake the Roosters, at home, will be no soft touch. On paper the Roosters look stronger, but surely the time has arrived when the switch is hit and scintillating halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford start producing the goods. Even an ugly win will satisfy Broncos fans.

TIP: Broncos



ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm

History: Played 31, Bulldogs 20, Dragons 11

Last met: Bulldogs 34-16, round 14, 2016

Surely the Bulldogs losing 36-0 last week was an aberration. On the back of four straight wins their pitiful display in Townsville has cost them a vital top-four berth, and they will no doubt be on song for the abject Dragons, whose current off-field issues are mirroring their poor season. Only the Knights have scored fewer points in 2016 than the Red V and although the Dogs have not exactly been on fire in that department, if their minds are on the job they could rattle up a cricket score in this.

TIP: Bulldogs



Mt Smart Stadium, 3pm (AEST)

History: Played 36, Panthers 20, Warriors 15, drawn 1

Last met: Panthers 30-18, round 10, 2016

Everything about this match-up says "wow". Not only is a top-eight spot up for grabs but so is the record at Mt Smart Stadium, where the 16 previous meeting s have been squared. Having suffered three golden-point losses in their past four outings, the Warriors will be seeking a change in fortunes back at home. And they welcome back Tui Lolohea, who has been outstanding in 2016. But the Panthers, making a late charge and on the back of their best form of the season last weekend, will no doubt bring out the best in the Warriors, and this should go down to the wire.

TIP: Warriors


ANZ Stadium, 5.30pm

History: Played 32, Eels 18, Tigers 13, drawn 1

Last met: Eels 8-0, round 4, 2016

Despite their courage under fire for much of the season, surely the resolve of the Eels is starting to soften. There were only glimpses of the gutsy Parramatta in its capitulation to the Titans last weekend and minus so many big guns and a lack of motivation following the loss of 12 premiership points, its season is virtually over. But the Tigers are a different beast and despite the Robbie Farah sideshow, Jason Taylor obviously has his troops on the same page and a finals possie is certainly a possibility.

TIP: Tigers


1300SMILES Stadium, 7.30pm

History: Played 31, Storm 21, Cowboys 10

Last met: Storm 15-14, round 10, 2016

Undoubtedly the match of the round, this clash has been robbed of much of its curiosity value by the absence of Johnathan Thurston, supposedly sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring injury. Most of the stats - and even the bookies - favour the visitors, who sit four points ahead of the Cowboys in second place, have won 11 of their 17 games in Townsville, and 21 of the 31 overall. But desperate to win to maintain a shot at finishing in the top two and also proving - yet again - they are not a JT one-man band, the Cowboys will be no pushover for the in-form Storm.

TIP: Storm



ANZ Stadium, 2pm

History: Played 50, Raiders 29, Rabbitohs 21

Last met: Raiders 30-22, round 8, 2015

Set to miss the finals for the first time in five seasons and without suspended skipper Greg Inglis for two more weeks, the Rabbitohs could well be cannon fodder for the rampaging Raiders, who have won eight of their past nine. And to add to the new-found character of the Raiders, two of those victories have been in golden-point extra time. A powerful forward pack continues to set a springboard for slick backs, with skipper Jarrod Croker needing just two points to top 200 for the season. Adding to the woes of the woeful Rabbitohs is the suspension of Tom Burgess.

TIP: Raiders


Brookvale Oval, 4pm

History: Played 46, Sea Eagles 29, Knights 17

Last met: Sea Eagles 26-10, round 8, 2016

After they beat the Knights back in round eight, the Sea Eagles capitulated to lose six in a row before winning their past three and resurrecting their slim hopes of their 11th finals appearance in the past 12 years. But despite their recent improvement, and the gusty yet losing displays of the Knights, only the powers-that-be at Channel Nine could possibly explain why this is one of the "chosen" free-to-air TV games of the round. A season-ending hamstring injury to Jarrod Mullen has further lengthened the Knights’ woes as they face their 13th successive loss, so the Sea Eagles should fear little.

TIP: Sea Eagles



Cbus Super Stadium, 7pm

History: Played 14, Sharks 8, Titans 6

Last met: Sharks 25-20, round 6, 2016

If the impending retirement of club legend Paul Gallen isn’t enough motivation, the Sharks have an added incentive to continue on their remarkable winning way with hooker Michael Ennis this week announcing his retirement at season’s end. Still in finals contention and with Greg Bird back from suspension and adding fire to the Titans engine room against his former club, this shapes as one of the best Monday night clashes this year. With many believing the Sharks may soon stumble, maybe this could be the night?

TIP: Sharks

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