Round 15 of the National Rugby League season may just feature four matches, but three of the top four teams will be in action, making for plenty of interest.
With State of Origin Game 2 to be staged in Sydney next Wednesday, some of the big sides will go into this weekend's matches understrength.
Top-placed Melbourne Storm host the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday evening in Melbourne and will be without five of their best players, who are on Origin duty. The absentees include Billy Slater, who was called up to Queensland after his surprise Game 1 omission, and young forward Tim Glasby, who will make his Origin debut.
Of course, North Queensland will be without their main man in Johnathan Thurston—something they've become accustomed to this year as he has battled injury—as well as Michael Morgan, Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper.
It would appear on paper that both sides have been equally impacted by the absence of key players and hence the 11-2 Storm are $1.65 AUD favourites over the 8-5 Cowboys, who are $2.28, according to AustralianGambling.com.au.
The Cowboys' last two trips to play in Melbourne have been for finals, with the Storm having the edge last year, while the Cowboys won in 2015.
With the Roosters on a bye, the Storm can't lose top spot, but they will be keen to preserve their four-point advantage on top.
Third-placed Cronulla were outclassed 18-13 by the Storm last weekend and will be looking to get their premiership defence back on track when they host the Wests Tigers at Shark Park later on Saturday night.
But the Sharks are badly impacted by Origin, with Andrew Fifita, James Maloney, Wade Graham, Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes all unavailable.
The Tigers are missing their two best players in Aaron Woods and James Tadesco, and they are afforded little chance of causing the upset here. The market has them at $4.05, with the understrength Sharks seemingly under the odds at $1.25, considering the firepower they are missing.
The round opener on Friday night sees South Sydney looking to end their poor run of home form against fellow strugglers the Gold Coast Titans.
The Rabbitohs, unaffected by Origin, have lost all six home games this season, but are $1.34 to leap above the Titans on the table with a win here. The Titans, who lose Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace to rep duty, are $3.30.
The final game of the round, to be played Sunday afternoon, looms as an important one for St George Illawarra, who travel to ANZ Stadium to face the Parramatta Eels. Just four points separate the fourth-placed Dragons and ninth-placed Eels, who are 7-7.
Both teams are coming off bad losses last week, and while the current ladder favours the Dragons, the market is tipped in favour of the Eels, who are $1.72, with the Dragons at $2.15.
The Dragons have lost their past five matches against the Eels, including their Round 2 match in Wollongong 34-16.