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NRL round-12 preview panel

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/05/2016 James MacSmith and Laine Clark

Preview of NRL round-12 matches (all times NZT):

FRIDAY, May 27

Brisbane v Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium 9.50pm

Head to Head: Broncos 19 Tigers 4 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 19 2015 - Broncos 42 bt Tigers 16 at Suncorp Stadium

They grow up so fast. Usually, the Baby Broncos emerge during the State of Origin period. But Brisbane will produce a side the envy of their lowly rivals even with six players on Queensland duty. Prized halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford remain after earning 12-month Origin bans for breaking Emerging Maroons camp curfew. Then there's new captain Adam Blair and fellow Kiwi internationals Kodi Nikorima and Alex Glenn. And veteran hooker Andrew McCullough. Brisbane are tipped to win their sixth straight home game this year against a Wests Tigers side without NSW Origin duo Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods.

Key: Can so-called "one of the dirtiest players" Blair help Brisbane steamroll a Wests Tigers pack without NSW star Woods?

Tip: Broncos


St George-Illawarra v North Queensland at WIN Stadium 9.30pm

Head to Head: Dragons 12 Cowboys 15

Last clash: Round 5 2016 - Cowboys 36 bt Dragons 0 at 1300SMILES Stadium

The respective State of Origin teams might have been decided for now but that won't stop North Queensland's Gavin Cooper and Lachlan Coote trying to prove a point to selectors. Back-rower Cooper was considered unlucky not to have replaced Aidan Guerra in the Queensland side for the series opener, while NSW coach Laurie Daley chose Matt Moylan over Coote as Blues fullback. Cooper has scored a try in six of the past seven matches and needs one more for his 50th for the Cowboys. The Dragons will hope the return of off-contract halfback Benji Marshall will get them back on track against a Cowboys outfit missing five Origin stars. The Dragons have won all four of this season's home matches and their past seven dating back to 2015.

Key: Can Coote fill the big shoes left in the halves by their Origin stars against the reunited Dragons pairing of Marshall and Gareth Widdop?

Tip: Dragons

SUNDAY, May 29

Canberra v Canterbury at GIO Stadium 6.00pm

Head to Head: Raiders 27 Canterbury 36

Last clash: Round 5 2016 - Raiders 22 bt Canterbury 8 at Belmore Sports Ground

Canterbury finally managed to buck their win-loss-win-loss streak last week and can make up some ground on the top four during the Origin period. The Dogs lose David Klemmer and Josh Jackson to state duty but the core of their team is intact. Danny Fualalo and Adam Elliott move into the Dogs' forward pack. Sam Perrett has been excellent at fullback for Will Hopoate, who will miss his third and final Sunday game due to his religious beliefs. Canberra, too, will look to move up the ladder during the Origin period after only losing Josh Papalii. The return of Iosia Soliola and Shaun Fensom is huge for them. Likely to be a high-scoring encounter.

Key: Josh Reynolds. Is hitting some good form and can remind Blues coach Laurie Daley what he is missing here.

Tip: Bulldogs

MONDAY, May 30

Newcastle v Parramatta at Hunter Stadium 9.00pm

Head to Head: Knights 26 Eels 20 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 7 2015 - Eels 28 bt Knights 22 at Hunter Stadium

Things could hardly be worse for Newcastle on the field at the moment and the same can be said for the Eels away from the paddock. Realistically, both sides' finals chances are over, and they are only playing for pride. Newcastle are always hard to beat at home and the trip north on a Monday night before Origin could be too much for the Eels. Vai Toutai comes into the Eels' side for NSW centre Michael Jennings. Newcastle are missing Queensland's Dane Gagai. Jaelen Feeney is the latest player to partner Trent Hodkinson in the Knights' halves.

Key: Home-ground advantage on a cold Monday night will likely tip this fixture Newcastle's way.

Tip: Knights

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