NRL Round 23 Preview and Tips – Saturday Fixtures

New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights

Mt Smart Stadium, 5:30pm

Warriors $1.45, Knights $2.75 (Sportingbet)

Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Joel Moon, Shaun Berrigan, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Aaron Heremaia, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Micheal Luck. Interchange (from): Pita Godinet, Sam Rapira, Ben Matulino, Ukuma Ta’Ai, Lewis Brown

Knights: Kurt Gidley (c), James McManus, Junior Sa’u, Adam MacDougall, Akuila Uate, Ryan Stig, Jarrod Mullen, Evarn Tuimavave, Isaac De Gois, Antonio Kaufusi, Chris Houston, Neville Costigan, Joel Edwards. Interchange: Matt Hilder, Richie Fa’aoso, Cameron Ciraldo, Zane Tetevano

The Warriors return home off the back of a tight loss on golden point to the Broncos last week which broke their 4 game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Warriors appear to be in pretty good nick heading into this match which could prove to be pivotal to either side. The winner could finish the round as high as 6th whilst the loser could end up 8th and possibly find the 9th and 10th placed sides only one win behind them.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson is really coming into his own after only 8 career first grade games and he really takes the pressure off five/eighth James Maloney which gives the side a solid all round composure.

Newcastle last week devastated the Canberra Raiders by 32 points with the help of their right side attack which saw war horse Adam MacDougall and Fijian flyer Akuila Uate each bag a double. Don’t be surprised if the ball is sent their way plenty of times.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Parramatta Eels v Manly Sea Eagles

Parramatta Stadium, 7:30pm

Eels $3.75, Sea Eagles $1.28 (Sportingbet)

Eels: Luke Burt, Etu Uaisele, Justin Horo, Ben Smith, Jordan Atkins, Jarryd Hayne, Casey McGuire, Tim Mannah, Matt Keating, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh (C), Taniela Lasalo, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Shane Shackleton, Mitchell Allgood, Pat O’Hanlon, Justin Poore

Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Jamie Lyon (c), Steve Matai, Will Hopoate, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, George Rose, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Joe Galuvao, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Darcy Lussick, Jamie Buhrer, Shane Rodney, Tony Williams, Tim Robinson

Michael Robertson has been named to return to the wing for Manly after having a few weeks lay off with injury. Manly were stung by the Tigers two weeks earlier and last week it was the Roosters who copped the full brunt of the Sea Eagles rebound which saw a 38-8 drumming. Manly learnt a lesson against the Tigers and it’s unlikely they are going to take the field against Parramatta with a single ounce of complacency despite playing a side that sits 15th on the ladder. That side of course is Parramatta who front their home crowd after last week’s shocker which saw Souths smash them by 50 points. They now sit just one competition point from the wooden spoon and will hopefully doing their best to avoid the unwanted crown.

The rivalry between these two sides goes right back to the 70’s and Parramatta always play that little bit harder against their old rivals and hopefully they can make a close one out of this contest.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


Gold Coast Titans v Melbourne Storm

Skilled Park, 7:30pm

Titans $6.35. Storm $1.12 (Sportingbet)

Titans: Jordan Rankin, Steve Michaels, William Zillman, Dominique Peyroux, David Mead, Beau Henry, Preston Campbell, Luke Bailey (c), Matt Srama, Matt White, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Luke O’Dwyer. Interchange (from): Brenton Lawrence, Will Matthews, Bodene Thompson, Clinton Toopi, Greg Bird

Storm: Billy Slater, Justin O’Neill, Dane Nielsen, Maurice Blair, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie, Adam Blair, Sika Manu, Kevin Proctor. Interchange: Beau Champion, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Atelea Vea, Jaiman Lowe

Its 1st vs. 16th and the result may be a foregone conclusion to many but it would be nice to see the Titans put in a big effort for their home crowd. One major problem is that their star playmaker Scott Prince will be watching from the sidelines with a broken arm. Preston Campbell, who earlier in the week announced his retirement at the end of the season, will play halfback and has been given the captaincy by Luke Bailey in an unselfish gesture.

The Titans have a reasonable history against the Storm having beaten them twice in the last 3 encounters. If they can win again tonight, they may have a good chance at getting ahead of the Eels and ultimately move from the bottom of the ladder.

The Storm know that they can virtually wrap up the minor premiership tonight with a win and will be ruthless in their bid to claim victory.

Mike’s Best Bet: None

Starting Bank: $2000, Current Bank $2549.39

(Team lists sourced from

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