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NRL: Broncos face Dragons in must win clash

The Brisbane Broncos have to beat St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday if they are to have any chance of making the top eight while there is also a big game for North Queensland Cowboys when they entertain Penrith Panthers.

The Broncos looked nailed on for finals at one point this season but an alarming slide down the ladder now means they need a lot to go in their favour to make the eight.

Kevin Walters side have to beat the Dragons in Wollongong and then hope Canberra Raiders slip up against the Wests Tigers on Sunday. Otherwise it is another season without finals.

Meanwhile North Queensland need to beat Penrith and hope the Cronulla Sharks lose on Sunday if they are to have a chance of finishing second on the ladder and earning a home final.

But it looks as though they will be playing the Sharks on their own patch in the first week of finals, with Penrith set to face Parramatta following the Eels victory over Melbourne Storm on Thursday night.

There is one other game to wrap up a bumper day of footy on Saturday. It sees the Warriors take on the Gold Coast Titans in Auckland with both sides looking to end a disappointing season on a high.

Let’s take a closer look at each game.

What: New Zealand Warriors v Gold Coast Titans
Where: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
When: 15:00 (AEST) Saturday 3rd September 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Warriors 31/50, Titans 13/10

The Warriors have had a disappointing season, but the one plus point has been returning to Auckland to play their footy and they will be keen to put on a show for their home supporters.

They have suffered heavy defeats in the last two games against the Cowboys and Panthers, who have put over 40 points on them, so they need to respond before signing off for the season.

Halfback Shaun Johnson has been ruled out of the game after suffering a calf injury against the Panthers, so Daejarn Asi will come in to replace him.

Marcelo Montoya and Rocco Berry have also been ruled out but there is some good news as Euan Aitken, Jesse Arthars and Wayde Egan are all set to return.

The Titans will also be happy to see the back of this season but thankfully for them they have avoided picking up the wooden spoon after beating the Newcastle Knights last week.

A victory could take the Titans as high as 12th spot on the ladder and they are boosted by the return of Phillip Sami after he recovered from a head knock.

What: St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos
Where: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
When: 17:30 (AEST) Saturday 3rd September 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Dragons 7/5, Broncos 29/50

The Broncos have to win the clash against the Dragons if they are to be in with a shout of squeezing back into the top eight.

A heavy victory would really put the pressure on the Raiders heading into their game on Sunday and there can be no slip ups from Kevin Walters’ side.

However there will need to be a huge improvement on the last two performances that have seen them heavily beaten by both the Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm.

They have received some good news though as both Patrick Carrigan and Selwyn Cobbo are set to return to the side, while the influential Adam Reynolds and Thomas Flegler have also been given the nod to play.

The Dragons had hopes of playing finals themselves at one point but a poor run of results put them out of contention.

The Red V had lost four games on the bounce before edging out the Wests Tigers by two points last week. Coach Anthony Griffin has no fresh selection issues and has named the same side.

What: North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers
Where: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
When: 19:35 (AEST) Saturday 3rd September 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Cowboys 13/100, Panthers 5/1

The Cowboys still have a chance of clinching second spot on the ladder if they can beat the Panthers and Cronulla slip up on Sunday, so they will be going all out for the win.

They were disappointing when losing 20-10 against South Sydney last week but are back on home soil and will fancy their chances of beating the minor premiers.

Star playmaker Tom Dearden looks set to return to the side following injury but there will be no Coen Hess, who misses out through suspension. That will allow Reuben Cotter to step back into the side.

The Panthers have had top spot locked in for a few weeks now and coach Ivan Cleary has opted to rest a host of players ahead of finals, where they will play Parramatta in week one.

Dylan Edwards, Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Izack Tago, Taylan May, Jarome Luai, Moses Leota, James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau and Isaah Yeo will all sit out.

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