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NRL preview panel for round 15

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017 Matt Coughlan

FRIDAY June 16

South Sydney v Gold Coast at ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm

Head to head: Rabbitohs 8 Titans 6

Last clash: Round 13, 2016 - Titans 29 bt Rabbitohs 28 at nib Stadium

TAB: Rabbitohs $1.27 Titans $3.75

FootyTAB: Titans +6.5

A perfect opportunity for the Rabbitohs' first win in more than a month with injury and Origin selection forcing the Titans to make six changes. If snapping a three-game losing streak isn't enough motivation, veteran five-eighth John Sutton will play his 300th game for Souths in all grades. Both sides' seasons are hanging by a thread with four wins. Titans forward Kevin Proctor returns from a four-match illicit drug ban, while backrower Chris McQueen shifts to the halves and hooker Pat Politoni makes his club debut.

Key: Do the Rabbitohs have the killer instinct to overcome a severely depleted Titans?

Tip: Rabbitohs

SATURDAY June 17

Melbourne v North Queensland at AAMI Park, 5.30pm

Head to head: Storm 23 Cowboys 10

Last clash: Round 4, 2017 - Storm 25 bt Cowboys 12 at Eden Park

TAB: Storm $1.65 Cowboys $2.25

FootyTAB: Cowboys +3.5

With more than half Queensland's team drawn from the Storm and Cowboys, this will be the ultimate depth test for both sides. Melbourne are almost unrecognisable from the team which beat Cronulla in a thriller last week. Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Will Chambers and Tim Glasby are lost to Origin, while Cheyse Blair and Jordan McLean are injured. The Cowboys lose Johnathan Thurston, Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess and Michael Morgan to Queensland. Cowboys rookie five-eighth Kyle Laybutt is in line to debut after a false start last week, with Ray Thompson partnering him in the halves.

Key: Which team's second tier is stronger?

Tip: Storm

Cronulla v Wests Tigers at Southern Cross Group Stadium, 7.30pm

Head to head: Sharks 10 Tigers 17 Draw 1

Last clash: Round 9, 2017 - Sharks 22 bt Tigers 16 at Leichhardt Oval

TAB: Sharks $1.25 Tigers $4

FootyTAB: Tigers +10.5

It doesn't get any easier for the Tigers who after five-straight defeats have the longest losing streak in the competition. Cronulla kicked off the Tigers' barren run, shading them six weeks ago. Valentine Holmes' Queensland call-up extends the Sharks' Origin outs to five, with James Maloney, Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita and Jack Bird also on state duty. The reigning premiers will look to Paul Gallen to guide them after an inspirational performance against Canterbury in round 12 when they were similarly without their stars. The Tigers' Aaron Woods and James Tedesco will be in camp with NSW, while Luke Brooks returns at halfback to partner Tuimoala Lolohea.

Key: Can Brooks help spark Lolohea? The Tigers' five-eighth has struggled for form since making a mid-season switch from the Warriors.

Tip: Sharks

SUNDAY June 18

Parramatta v St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium, 4pm

Head to head: Eels 14 Dragons 16 Draw 2

Last clash: Round 2, 2017 - Eels 34 bt Dragons 16 at WIN Stadium

TAB: Eels $1.65 Dragons $2.25

FootyTAB: Dragons +2.5

The Eels have the dubious luxury of not losing a player to Origin while the Dragons lose Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell to NSW duty. Parramatta's new halves pairing of Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman had two training sessions before their debut outing last week - and it showed. The Origin period is vital for the Eels, especially against teams depleted by representative selection. The Dragons will be desperate to prove their try-less performance against Canterbury on Monday was an aberration rather than a return to the attacking woes which plagued them last season. The Red V haven't beaten the Eels in four years, losing the last five encounters.

Key: The team that bounces back harder from a last-round shocker. The match looks set to be won in the halves with Norman and Moses facing off against Gareth Widdop and Josh McCrone.

Tip: Dragons

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