NRL previews: Parramatta pulls switch
PARRAMATTA coach Brad Arthur has made a radical switch ahead of Thursday night's must-win match against the Brisbane Broncos.
The Eels are languishing at the bottom of the NRL ladder after a horror start to the season and will likely need to win at least 11 of their remaining 13 games to have any hope of figuring in the finals.
In a bid to save their season, Arthur has swapped fullback Clint Gutherson with five-eighth Corey Norman for the Suncorp Stadium showdown.
Check out all the Round 12 game previews here with Durko's Dissections:
BRONCOS V EELS
Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 18, Broncos 11, Eels 7. Last met: Eels 52-34, round 25, 2017
This could be a season-defining match for the Broncos. Although ninth on the ladder, they are actually equal sixth on premiership points and a win tonight may secure a top-eight berth. Both teams are down on troops but the Eels - last and out of the premiership race - will be clinging to the memory of their most recent visit to Brisbane when they hammered the Broncos in round 25 last year. The Eels have a reshuffled backline and Josh McGuire is a chance of returning for the Broncos.
TIP - Broncos
RAIDERS V SEA EAGLES
GIO Stadium, 6pm
History: Played 54, Sea Eagles 33, Raiders 20, drawn 1. Last met: Sea Eagles, 32-16, round 4, 2018
The stirring resurgence of the Sea Eagles has been stopped in its tracks with the further loss of Api Koroisau and Dylan Walker. But they have an impressive record against the Raiders, particularly in Canberra, and the courage displayed in recent weeks could be the catalyst for an upset against a team that simply cannot win close matches. With both teams on eight points, the result of this is vital for the winner.
TIP - Raiders
COWBOYS V STORM
1300SMILES Stadium, 7.50pm
History: Played 37, Storm 27, Cowboys 10. Last met: Storm 30-14, round 3, 2018
Last weekend the Storm were as ill-disciplined as at any time in the coaching career of Craig Bellamy, and that flaw is unlikely to be repeated against a Cowboys outfit that simply must win. Cameron Smith, no doubt refreshed in the knowledge he no longer has rep commitments on his mind, will be keen to continue the run of seven successive wins against his great mate Johnathan Thurston. But it is desperation time for the 15th-placed Cowboys who need to find winning form before it is too late.
TIP - Storm
ROOSTERS V TITANS
Central Coast Stadium, 3pm
History: Played 16, Roosters 8, Gold Coast 8. Last met: Roosters 20-16, round 26, 2017
While both these sides played some electric footy last weekend, the Roosters again failed to live up to their hype against the Broncos and are nowhere near the premiership hotshots most considered they would be in 2018. Conversely, the Titans toughed it out for a win against the Knights and if their pack can aim up in this an upset is not an impossibility - particularly as the Roosters have lost nine of their past 10 in Gosford.
TIP - Roosters
WARRIORS V RABBITOHS
Mt Smart Stadium, 5.30pm (AEST)
History: Played 32, Warriors 19, Rabbitohs 13. Last met: Warriors 32-20, round 1, 2018
They may have scraped in last weekend, but the Warriors and Rabbitohs have already shown they are the real deal. This shapes as one of the games of the round and the Warriors - with skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck back - will want to reclaim their home dominance after losing two of their past four in Auckland. The forward clash will be a smash-up with no prisoners taken and if Tuivasa-Sheck can ignite his backline, the Warriors should win.
TIP - Warriors
PANTHERS V DRAGONS
Penrith Stadium, 7.30pm
History: Played 32, Dragons 20, Panthers 12. Last met: Dragons 16-14, round 25, 2017
More than 20,000 fans are expected to pack into Penrith Stadium for this top-of-the-ladder clash and they won't be disappointed. The Dragons, with a dream injury-free run, may have scored 50 points more after 11 rounds but both teams are miserly in defence and that is where this will be won and lost. With as many as 13 players in the State of Origin selection frame, this shapes as one of the games of the season.
TIP - Panthers
KNIGHTS V SHARKS
Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium, 2pm
History: Played 50, Knights 27, Sharks 22, drawn 1. Last met: Sharks 26-18, round 26, 2017
As brave and impressive as the Knights continue to be, the Sharks will be tough to crack with hard heads Luke Lewis and Wade Graham returning. On the back of a five-game winning streak and six successive wins against the Knights, the tenacity of the Sharks to stay in the grind will get them home.
TIP - Sharks
TIGERS V BULLDOGS
ANZ Stadium, 4.10pm
History: Played 32, Bulldogs 20, Tigers 12. Last met: Tigers 18-12, round 8, 2017
While still tenacious defensively, the Tigers must find another gear with the ball if they are to seriously threaten the top sides and coach Ivan Cleary has recognised that with key backline changes. Averaging 16 points a game won't get them many victories and although the Bulldogs are struggling, recent strong showings against the Broncos and Sharks indicates they are close to their fourth win of the season. Josh Reynolds makes a timely return against his former club, who are without Josh Morris.
TIP - Tigers
- Compiled by Tony Durkin