Chris Sandow of the Eels dives over to score a try during the round one NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Warriors at Parramatta Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.
Chris Sandow of the Eels dives over to score a try during the round one NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Warriors at Parramatta Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

Durkin's NRL forecast for second round footy fixtures

Eels V Bulldogs

Last time they met:

  • Round 19, 2012: Dogs won 32-12
  • Last 10 head-to-head: 5-5

Was there a better sight last weekend than the much-maligned Chris Sandow running the football, making breaks and flashing that brilliant grin?

The little bloke was back to his very best, as was Jarryd Hayne and - as a result - so too were the Eels.

But round one does not make a season and the 'Dogs will be a much tougher proposition than the Warriors, even though none of their big four is back.

 

Dragons V Broncos

Last time they met:

  • Round 5, 2012: Broncos won 28-20
  • Last 10 head-to-head: Broncos 6-4

Rarely in their 25 years as opponents have these iconic clubs opposed each other with both coming off losses, but that's the stark reality after disappointing openings to 2013.

Both must re-group immediately, and the Broncos showed enough in the first 40 minutes to suggest they can.

But pre-season fears that the Dragons were severely undermanned and lacked a ring master appeared spot on in their mediocre first-up offering.

 

Warriors V Roosters

Last time they met:

  • Round 10, 2012: Warriors won 30-26
  • Last 10 head-to-head: Warriors 6-3 (1 draw)

Unless they can arrest their alarming defensive deficiencies - they missed 31 tackles last weekend - the Warriors will lose their 10th successive NRL match in what was supposed to be a headline act for the code in New Zealand.

Played at Eden Park against a Roosters outfit suiting up Sonny Bill Williams and six other Kiwis, the Roosters could run riot unless the Warriors smarten up.

Admittedly, they are a different proposition at home.

 

Cowboys V Storm

Last time they met:

  • Round 19, 2012: Cowboys won 20-16
  • Last 10 head-to-head: Storm 8-2

Why this is not the Friday night match of the round is yet another Channel 9 joke.

This contest shapes as a ripper between two of the heavyweights and both impressive first-round winners.

The guile of Cronk and Smith against Thurston; Tamou and Scott verses powerhouse youngsters Bromwich and Harris; and Slater opposed to Bowen.

The recent hectic itinerary of the Storm tips the scales in favour of the Cowboys, but only just.

 

Titans V Raiders

Last time they met:

  • Round 19, 2012: Titans won 38-26
  • Last 10 head-to-head: Titans 6-4

In successive weeks the Titans oppose a club engulfed in off-field drama, which can often be a distraction.

But they have enough issues of their own, specifically formulating an attacking springboard within the quarter of their opposition.

Individually their halves are electric; together they are wayward.

Raiders players are understandably gutted by the antics of Dugan and Robinson, so it is difficult imagining them lifting for this, another away game.

 

Tigers V Panthers

Last time they met:

  • Round 19, 2012: Tigers won 26-18
  • Last 10 head-to-head: 5-5

I tipped the Tigers to be cellar dweller candidates, but didn't think they would be so insipid first up.

As woeful as they were, coach Potter has given them another chance by naming an unchanged side.

Also fielding the same side are the Panthers who shot out of the blocks with a brilliant game plan executed superbly by their halves.

The Tigers will need a miracle form reversal.

 

Sea Eagles V Knights

Last time they met:

  • Round 24, 2012: Manly won 42-20
  • Last 10 head-to-head: Manly 6-4

Manly are the old pros, and despite being under the drugs spotlight this week they will deliver again, just as they did against the Broncos.

But it was the Knights who were the surprise packets of round one, with a new steel to their defence and some brilliant attack.

The clash between rookie Dane Gagai and hard head Steve Matai will be intriguing, and sparks could fly between Beau Scott and Anthony Watmough.

 

Rabbitohs V Sharks

Last time they met:

Round 24, 2012: Sharks won 20-7

Last 10 head-to-head: 5-5

How much more can the Sharks players absorb?

Surely there must be a letdown following the emotional ride of last week and nothing could be more demoralising than meeting a red-hot Rabbitohs machine.

A cavernous ANZ Stadium on Monday night will be a million miles away from the emotional hot bed that was Shark Park last weekend, and a demolition of the visitors is on the cards.


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