Expert breakdown of NRL round 11 matches

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Storm (6) v Broncos (1)

Thursday 7.50pm, AAMI Park

Melbourne’s dominance of Brisbane has long been a record to behold, typically a biannual drubbing for the Broncos to the tune of a 38-13 all-time match-up. But this year’s Brisbane side is as well-placed as any to stop the rot, sitting atop the ladder with the game’s best prop in Payne Haas, its best short-kicking game in Adam Reynolds, and its most dynamic player from a standing start in Reece Walsh. Cory Paix added a point of difference last week from the bench.

The Storm, meanwhile, are still swinging between their best – which is worthy of title contention, and mid-table mediocrity. There’s every chance they produce the former back at home and, of course, names like Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Harry Grant and Nelson Asofa-Solomona can’t be written off. Still, Broncos by 6.

Dan Walsh

Bulldogs (15) v Warriors (11)

Friday 6pm, Accor Stadium

Josh Addo-Carr makes a timely return from an ankle injury, but a winger is not going to get the job done for the Dogs.

They were poor against Canberra, and coach Cameron Ciraldo, who prides himself on defence, will want a better effort against the Warriors. At least he will know every trick play his old mate at the Warriors Andrew Webster has up his sleeve. The Warriors have met some stiff competition in recent weeks, and more than held their own. That form should be enough against the Dogs. Warriors by 8.

Christian Nicolussi

Panthers (3) v Roosters (8)

Friday 8pm, BlueBet Stadium

Twenty years on from the famous grand final between east and west, two powerhouses go at it again at the foot of the mountains.

Jahream Bula, Ben Hunt, Nicho Hynes, Josh Addo-Carr and Payne Haas.Credit: NRL Photos

The Panthers haven’t looked anywhere near the dominant team of the past three seasons, but still loom as a title threat and are sweating on Liam Martin (hamstring) being elevated from the extended bench if he’s fit. Fletcher Baker is in the 17 for the Roosters in place of Egan Butcher, who was concussed in the club’s demoralising Magic Round loss to the Cowboys as their attack spluttered again. The Panthers have won their last six over the Roosters, stretching back to 2020. They will have no shortage of motivation in front of the 2003 premiership side. Panthers by 8.

Adam Pengilly

Rabbitohs (2) v Tigers (17)

Saturday 3pm, Accor Stadium

The Tigers are chasing three straight for the first time in five years. Jahream Bula has been a breath of fresh air at the back, especially with two match-winning defensive plays in as many weeks. The Tigers were still awful in patches against the Dragons, who just happened to be worse. Souths are absolutely humming in attack and defence. They need to be ruthless and not take their opponents lightly (round six in 2021, anyone?). Rabbitohs by 14.

Christian Nicolussi

Cowboys (14) v Dragons (16)

Saturday 5.30pm, Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Was the Cowboys’ bash-up of the Roosters a sign they’re back? Todd Payten certainly hopes so as last year’s preliminary finalists burst to life in Magic Round.

Are the Cowboys back to their best?Credit: Getty

It has been a forgettable week for the Dragons, who slumped to a fifth straight narrow loss and now have to head north trying to resurrect their season. Coach Anthony Griffin is looking for salvation and has named the same playmaking combination as last week, with Ben Hunt to start at halfback and Jayden Sullivan due off the bench. The Cowboys have won four of their past five against the Dragons, spanning back to 2020. Cowboys by 14.

Adam Pengilly

Raiders (9) v Eels (13)

Saturday 7.35pm, GIO Stadium

These are desperate times for Parramatta. Another loss here and you can just about put a line through last year’s grand finalists. To make the task more difficult, the Eels are without Mitchell Moses (concussion), with Jake Arthur to play his first NRL game since last year’s decider. Canberra, meanwhile, are enjoying a revival. Now that Jack Wighton’s future is settled, the Green Machine have strung together four wins in a row. There’s a stability about the Raiders, who have named the same starting 17 every week since round six. With Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young pushing for State of Origin call-ups, the Eels can expect a very chilly reception in the nation’s capital. Raiders by 6.
Adrian Proszenko

Knights (12) v Titans (7)

Sunday 2pm, McDonald Jones Stadium

Knights coach Adam O’Brien.Credit: Getty

At least Newcastle will be well rested for this one. Much has been made of the decision to allow the Knights players some time off, but this was a team that looked like it needed a break after being thumped by Parramatta. Adam O’Brien’s men had been giving it all until that moment, and perhaps the bye round provided the reset required. The Gold Coast, meanwhile, have bounced back tremendously from that second-half capitulation to the Dolphins. Consecutive victories, against Manly and Parramatta, put them well into the frame for a top-eight spot if they can jag three in a row. The Titans will be buoyed by the re-signing of Jayden Campbell, who has filled in admirably at fullback for the injured AJ Brimson. Titans by 7.

Adrian Proszenko

Sea Eagles (10) v Sharks (4)

Sunday 4.05pm, 4 Pines Park

What’s happened to Manly? The only saving grace out of their Magic Round was that Cronulla’s defence was the worst all weekend. Both sides will be smarting but the Sea Eagles drop-off in intensity – hailed as their hallmark during impressive early wins under Anthony Seibold – has been alarming. Only concerns around Tom Trbojevic’s form and fitness trump it. The Sharks have yo-yoed like many sides this season, and Nicho Hynes had his most underwhelming performance in some time against the Dolphins. Tipping that’ll be long-forgotten by Sunday. Sharks by 10
Dan Walsh

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