The following are previews with betting tips for Round 23 of the 2017 NRL season.
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
Thu 10 Aug, 7:50 pm, ANZ Stadium
In a match between two sides ruled out of finals contention, the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs will clash this Thursday night after Souths may have ruined the Dragons’ finals party last week in an encouraging comeback win. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will be looking to avoid their fourth consecutive loss this week after a poor showing against the Eels in their last game.
The Rabbitohs will replace Hymel Hunt with Aaron Gray in the centres in their only change, while the Bulldogs have elected to name an unchanged squad for the game.
Both clubs have enjoyed much success in recent years and met in the 2014 grand final. Despite their recent success both teams have struggled to adapt to the NRL’s recent rule changes – designed to speed the game and reduce interchanges. Each team still boasts a mammoth forward rotation, but both clubs will look to evolve their rosters and style of play to suit the modern game in the hope of finding a winning formula for the 2018 season. Souths will enter the match as favourites and their more balanced spine should give them the edge. Expect the Rabbitohs to get the points while the Bulldogs continue to struggle in attack.
Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -4.0 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Eels v Knights
Fri 11 Aug, 6:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
A highly motivated Eels outfit will be well-aware victory against the Knights is certain to propel them into the top four. The Parramatta club will be looking for their seventh consecutive win this week as they look to leapfrog the loser of the Broncos vs Sharks on the competition ladder, but Brad Arthur’s troops should be wary of complacency against a last placed Newcastle outfit who are very capable of producing an upset.
Tepai Moeroa will return for the Eels in the only change from their last-start win against the Bulldogs, while the Knights will bring Joe Wardle and Shaun Kenny-Dowall into their side.
Newcastle will be quietly confident as belief builds with victory over the Warriors giving the club consecutive wins for the first time this year. The Eels will enter the match as heavy favourites, and if they can continue to produce the form behind their surge into top-four contention expect the result to go their way. The Knights will capitalise on any complacency within the Parramatta club but don’t expect a miracle as they struggle to match the Eels’ execution. Eels to get the win.
Betting Tip: Knights +15.5 @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Broncos v Sharks
Fri 11 Aug, 7:50 pm, Suncorp Stadium
Cronulla captain Paul Gallen will play his milestone 300th NRL game against the Broncos this Friday night after his Sharks outfit produced one of their worst performances of the season against the Raiders last week. The Sharks will be looking to aim up against Brisbane, who made the statement that their premiership hopes are well and truly alive with a 54-nil drubbing of the Titans in their last game.
James Maloney returns in the halves for Cronulla as Kurt Capewell also joins the centres for the injured Jack Bird. Meanwhile, the Broncos will replace the suspended Joe Ofahengaue with Jai Arrow on the bench in their only change.
Both teams are far from a guaranteed top four berth, and sitting at third and fourth on the ladder – this match could prove vital in the makeup of the top four. With a top-four berth on the line and near-full strength squads, expect an intense, physical game. The disturbance to each team’s spine in recent weeks could make for a low-scoring affair, but expect the attacking prowess of the Broncos to give them the edge.
Betting Tip: Broncos 1-12 @ $3.25 (Unibet)
Dragons v Titans
Sat 12 Aug, 3:00 pm, UOW Jubilee Oval
The Dragons have been unceremoniously bundled out of the top eight after consecutive losses to the Knights and Rabbitohs, but the joint-venture club will look for redemption against a struggling Titans squad who were embarrassed by the Broncos last week in a 54-nil drubbing. Both teams have endured disappointing seasons with the Titans’ finals campaign well and truly over while the Dragons face an uphill battle to break back into the top eight.
Kevin Proctor will return in the second-row for the Titans, while the Dragons will welcome back Tyson Frizell, similarly in the second row, in a boost for both teams’ edge defence.
The Dragons will enter the match as favourites with the Titans in turmoil following the worst loss in the club’s history. Rumours have surfaced that coach Neil Henry was against the signing of the high-profile Jarryd Hayne while others indicate Henry may have lost the dressing-room. The off-field disturbance will likely impact the Titans’ on-field performance, and with the Dragons desperate for a finals berth, expect the St George club to get the points.
Betting Tip: Dragons -8.0 @ $1.90 (Crownbet)
Storm v Roosters
Sat 12 Aug, 5:30 pm, AAMI Park
The Roosters face a tough away-trip to Melbourne in a mouth-watering clash between first and second on the competition ladder and will be looking to return to their best this week after a disappointing second-half collapse against Manly in their last game. The Storm will be unconcerned with premiership points, and instead look to build good form and momentum heading into the finals, while the Roosters will be eager to consolidate their top four-berth as they sit only one win above the Broncos, Sharks and Eels.
This clash will be made even more exciting by the return of both co-captains Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner for the Chooks in a massive boost for the club, while the Storm have named an unchanged 17 from their last-start win over the Cowboys.
The Storm will enter the match as favourites but with Cameron Munster and Tohu Harris still absent with injury, a Roosters’ outfit buoyed by the return of its two best players are a good chance to produce an upset. Expect high completion rates with both teams to execute well. Tough one to call but Storm look more likely.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points over 36.5 @ $1.93 (Sportsbet)
Panthers v Cowboys
Sat 12 Aug, 7:30 pm, Pepper Stadium
The Panthers will host the Cowboys this Saturday night in a match between two sides who have struggled to live up to pre-season expectations. The Panthers broke into the top-eight with a win over the Tigers last week but face an uphill battle for the premiership. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are in danger of slipping from top-four contention after consecutive losses against the Roosters and Storm indicate the club may struggle to match the competition’s best without Jonathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
Penrith have named an unchanged side for the clash, while the Cowboys will be without Antonio Winterstein and Gavin Cooper in a big blow for the club. Ben Hampton and Javid Bowen will join the North Queensland 17 as cover.
A home-ground advantage and the Cowboys’ injury woes will see the Panthers installed as favourites for the match. The Queenslanders will struggle to execute with so many missing from their line-up, but their opposition have been far from convincing in recent times with four of their past five wins coming from teams sitting 12th or lower on the ladder. Expect the Panthers to get the win in a high-scoring affair.
Betting Tip: Total Match Points Over 38.5 @ $2.00 (Crownbet)
Warriors v Raiders
Sun 13 Aug, 2:00 pm, Mt Smart Stadium
The Raiders sit two wins outside the top eight but remain a mathematical chance of making the play-offs. The Canberra club faces a trip to New Zealand to take on the Warriors after putting in a season-best performance against the Sharks last week, while their opposition in the Warriors will be looking to avoid their sixth consecutive loss after their finals omission has resulted in a disappointing collapse for the New Zealand club.
The Raiders have named an unchanged squad for the clash, while Ryan Hoffman will return in the back-row for the Warriors after their last-start loss to the Knights.
Canberra will go into the match as heavy favourites and will be highly motivated with their slim finals hopes on the line. The Warriors have been lacklustre to say the least in recent times with coach Stephen Kearney even going as far as benching Kiwi international hooker Issac Luke. Expect the Raiders to get the points.
Betting Tip: Raiders -8.0 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle)
Tigers v Sea Eagles
Sun 13 Aug, 4:00 pm, Leichhardt Oval
The Sea Eagles will look to kick-start a run of wins in the hopes of snagging a top-four berth after reports captain Daly Cherry-Evans inspired his outfit to victory with a speech akin to a Hollywood sports-movie last week against the Roosters. Whatever the method, it was an impressive turnaround for Manly who put in a phenomenal second-half performance, but they will face a lowly Tigers outfit this week, who are desperate to avoid the wooden spoon.
Manly will replace Kelepi Tanginoa with Addin Fonua-Blake on the bench in their only change, while the Tigers have named the same 17 from their last-start loss to the Panthers.
Manly will enter the match as favourites and with the Tigers struggling to match top-eight teams this year the Sea Eagles look to be a safe bet. New coach Ivan Cleary has been the catalyst for much change within the Tigers’ organisation, but with a limited roster in his first season, the joint-venture organisation looks to be at the start of a long rebuilding process. Manly to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -6.5 @ $1.92 (Topbetta)
Broncos 1-12 @ $3.25 (Unibet)