NRL Round 23 Preview and Tips





South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles

Bluetongue Stadium, 7:35pm (local).

RABBITOHS: Nathan Merritt, Justin Hunt, Matt King, Dylan Farrell, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Luke Burgess, Nathan Peats, Sam Burgess, Chris McQueen, Dave Taylor, Michael Crocker. Interchange (from): Jason Clark, Ben Lowe, Eddy Pettybourne, Isaac Luke, Dave Tyrrell, Roy Asotasi

SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jason King, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart. Interchange (from): Jamie Buhrer, Joe Galuvao, Vic Mauro, George Rose, Dean Whare, Tim Robinson

THE SEA EAGLES were able to field a full strength side for the first time last week against the Cowboys and they needed every ounce of every player to get up by 2 points on enemy soil. This week against the Rabbitohs they get the chance to do it again (minus Darcy Lussick who copped a 2 week suspension through the week) in a bid to maintain a coveted top 4 position on the ladder.

Contrary to Lussick’s suspension, the Rabbitohs welcome back hooker Isaac Luke to the side albeit to the bench. Luke will help provide some needed drive up the centre corridor, something that was definitely missing last week against the Titans despite the Rabbitohs leaving the Gold Coast with a victory.

Be sure to keep an eye on Dave Taylor and Tony Williams because if these two come together then we could be looking at a 10 on the Richter scale!

The battle between the halfbacks Reynolds and Cherry-Evans will be eye catching but the game is definitely going to be won or lost in the forwards.

I’ll be tipping the Sea Eagles this week as we can be sure they will turn on their best footy when playing any team in the top 8. They will be able to beat the Rabbitohs with superior usage of field position and by capitalising defensively off the back of solid kick-chase efforts.

Chance of winning: Rabbitohs 44%, Sea Eagles 55%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Sea Eagles

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sea Eagles Head to Head @ $2.00 (Centrebet)


Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans

AAMI Park, 7:35pm (local).

STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Justin O’Neill, Will Chambers, Anthony Quinn, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Jason Ryles, Sika Manu, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange (from): Todd Lowrie, Bryan Norrie, Jaiman Lowe, Kevin Proctor, Rory Kostjasyn

TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Steve Michaels, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Nate Myles, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (from): Matt White, Ben Ridge, Luke O’Dwyer, Beau Falloon, Greg Bird

THE TITANS HAD THE MEASURE of the Rabbitohs last week but were unable to capitalise on field position and coupled with errors from forced passes they found themselves out of the top 8 and sitting in 9th spot. Their task this week is the Storm and the key for the Titans to cause an upset may be as simple as playing like it doesn’t matter because it seems that when the pressure is on, they become jittery and fail to cross the try line as much as when they are already out of a game.

The Storm broke their unforseen 5 game losing streak last week with a crushing eight try win over a downright pathetic Panthers outfit but can’t afford to take them lightly this time around simply because they are one of the underperforming teams of 2012.

The Storm have been victorious over the Titans in the last 3 meetings but the Gold Coast unit will be ever keen for a win as it could see them finish the week back in the top 8 with just 3 rounds remaining until the finals.

Chance of winning: Storm 70%, Titans 29%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Storm Head to Head @ $1.36 (Centrebet)




Parramatta Eels v Sydney Roosters

Parramatta Stadium, 5:30pm (local).

EELS: Jake Mullaney, Luke Burt, Ryan Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Ken Sio, Ben Roberts, Chris Sandow, Tim Mannah, Nathan Smith, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ben Smith, Reni Maitua. Interchange: Joseph Paulo, Taulima Tautai, Justin Poore, Matthew Ryan

ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Joseph ‘BJ’ Leilua, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Tautau Moga, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Brad Takairangi, Mitchell Aubusson, Boyd Cordner. Interchange (from): Daniel Mortimer, Tinirau Arona, Martin Kennedy, Jack Bosden, Lama Tasi

IT’S A BOTTOM OF THE TABLE CLASH between the Eels and Roosters who sit 16th and 14th respectively.

A win for the Roosters could see them leap frog the Warriors and keep their finals hopes alive although their chances of making the finals are rather slim.

Once again for Parramatta it’s about trying to find their way off the bottom of the ladder and a win for them could see them jump the Panthers for 15th. If it’s going to happen then a quick brush up in defence is needed after they managed to let in 51 points last week against the Tigers.

This match is hardly a mouth watering affair and quite frankly I’m not overly keen to put my money anywhere near these cellar dwellars

Chance of winning: Eels 43%, Roosters 56%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Roosters

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None


Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra Dragons

Allianz Stadium, 7:30pm (local).

TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Beau Ryan, Marika Koroibete, Liam Fulton, Benji Marshall, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Junior Moors, Ray Cashmere, Matt Bell, Tim Simona

DRAGONS: Jason Nightingale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Nathan Green, Daniel Vidot, Nathan Fien, Ben Hornby, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Trent Merrin, Matt Prior, Ben Creagh, Dean Young. Interchange (from): Jamie Soward, Josh Miller, Will Matthews, Jack de Belin, Jack Stockwell

THE GOOD NEWS coming out of last week for Tigers fans was their team re-entering the top 8 following their 25 point win over Parramatta. The bad news was that they managed to let in 26 points in doing so.

I’m confident that they can rectify a few of their defensive issues in time for the game and it will be of key importance that they get off to a good start against the Dragons who despite their lowly standing on the ladder, are quite a defensive unit.

With the contrasting styles that these two sides present, this game could be won or lost in the first 25 minutes as I can’t see the Dragons hitting back if they are down by 12 or more at half time.

Going back to, and including 2009 the Dragons have defeated the Tigers 5 out of 7 times but tonight my money will be with the Tigers so they had better knuckle down in defence!

Chance of winning: Tigers 62%, Dragons 37%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Tigers

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Tigers/Tigers @ $2.25 (Centrebet)


North Queensland Cowboys v New Zealand Warriors

Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7:30pm (local).

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matthew Scott, Aaron Payne, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange (from): Ray Thompson, Ricky Thorby, Ashton Sims, Scott Bolton, Anthony Mitchell, Joel Riethmuller

WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Lewis Brown, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Carlos Tuimavave, Shaun Johnson, Sione Lousi, Nathan Friend, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Ben Henry, Elijah Taylor. Interchange (from): Russell Packer, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Micheal Luck, Steve Rapira, Sam Lousi

THE WARRIORS HAVE SLUMPED to their 4th straight loss after they were punished by over 40 points at home last week. This week they travel to Townsville to take on a Nth Qld side that is looking to bounce back from their narrow loss to the reigning premiers Manly. The Cowboys have the better record against the Warriors when it comes to games played in Townsville having won 11 from the last 12 and with the way the Warriors are playing, it’s likely to end up 12 from 13 after this match.

Some of the Warriors players simply don’t seem to be coping with a standard NRL defensive load but they are boosted this week by the return of tackling machine Micheal Luck although you wouldn’t blame luck if he isn’t quite at his best after such a long layoff with injury.

Chance of winning: Cowboys 71%, Warriors 28%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Cowboys -7.5 @ $1.84 (Centrebet)




Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders

Centrebet Stadium, 2:00pm (local).

PANTHERS: Michael Gordon, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Clint Newton, Matt Robinson, Cameron Ciraldo. Interchange (from): Dayne Weston, Mitch Achurch, Ryan Simpkins, Danny Galea, Nigel Plum

RAIDERS: Josh Dugan, Sandor Earl, Jarrod Croker, Blake Ferguson, Reece Robinson, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Travis Waddell, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange (from): Shaun Berrigan, Joe Picker, Mark Nicholls, Sam Mataora, Jarrad Kennedy, Bronson Harrison

AS WAS THE SITUATION two weeks ago, the Raiders are coming off a win which was preceded by a heavy loss thus keeping alive their reputation of being the mystery team of 2012 and the one that tipsters are having trouble figuring out. They sit just one win outside the top 8 and probably couldn’t have asked for a more ideal opponent right now than the Penrith Panthers.

The Panthers walked away from AAMI Park last week with their tails between their legs after the Storm layed on a 40 point drubbing keeping them ever closer to the bottom of the ladder.

Well I’ve been saying it for a month now but the Raiders are proving very hard to pick and the bookies are keeping them pretty safe at around the $1.80 mark which could be a touch of value.

Chance of winning: Panthers 39%, Raiders 60%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Raiders

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Raiders Head to Head @ $1.80 (Centrebet)


Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs v Brisbane Broncos

ANZ Stadium, 3:00pm (local).

BULLDOGS: Ben Barba, Sam Perrett, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Jonathan Wright, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, James Graham, Frank Pritchard, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange (from): Martin Taupau, Dale Finucane, Corey Payne, David Stagg, Joel Romelo

BRONCOS: Josh Hoffman, Gerard Beale, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Lachlan Maranta, Ben Hunt, Peter Wallace, Ben Hannant, Andrew McCullough, Petero Civoniceva, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Ben Te’o. Interchange: Corey Norman, Josh McGuire, Mitchell Dodds, Dunamis Lui 

A WORLD OF HURT is where the Broncos are right now with 4 losses from their last 5 games and a new batch of players removed from the line up.

Corey Parker and Alex Glenn have been ruled out through injury and Josh Hoffman has been sat on the sideline by Coach Anthony Griffin after he turned up late to a training session through the week.

The only thing hurting at the Bulldogs right now would be Des Hasler’s wallet after he was handed a $10,000 fine through the week by the NRL for his verbal outburst pertaining to the referee’s performances in last week’s Bulldogs v Knights match.

Other than that it’s been smooth sailing towards the finals for the Dogs who haven’t lost a match since May and are $1.33 favourites to continue the Broncos losing streak here.

There has been plenty of money for the Bulldogs this week and I’ve watched the line start at +5.5 before drifting to +8.5 and now currently sits at +10.5.

Chance of winning: Bulldogs 77%, Broncos 22%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Bulldogs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Bulldogs/Bulldogs @ $1.63 (Centrebet)




Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks

Hunter Stadium, 7:00pm (local).

KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, Kevin Naiqama, Dane Gagai, Timana Tahu, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Chris Houston, Joel Edwards, Neville Costigan. Interchange (from): Robbie Rochow, Zeb Taia, Adam Cuthbertson, Alex McKinnon, Zane Tetevano

SHARKS: Matthew Wright, John Williams, Ricky Leutele, Colin Best, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Mark Taufua, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Jeremy Smith, Anthony Tupou, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, John Morris, Jayson Bukuya

THE CRONULLA SHARK’S BACK ROW of Smith, Tupou and the gladiator like Paul Gallen are driving their team towards the finals and they sent out their message loud and clear last week when they thrashed the Warriors into submission to the tune of 45-4. Now that Gallen has returned to the team, Todd Carney has shown improvement and confidence which seemed to be lacking when Gallen wasn’t around mentoring him and organising the team.

Newcastle had the unenviable task of trying to stop the Bulldogs last week and found themselves 24 – 0 down early on in the piece, all but destroying their chances of victory there.

The Knights have won the last 4 outings against the Sharks and have been installed as favourites, most likely based on their 3 game winning streak before running into the Bulldogs. I can’t attest to being overly impressed by the 3 game winning streak as it was against the Raiders, Warriors and a Sea Eagles outfit that was under the throes of a flu virus at the time.

The Sharks represent  great value in this one to do away with the Knights in their own backyard.


Chance of winning: Knights 39%, Sharks 60%, Draw 1%

Mike’s Tip: Sharks

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Sharks Head to Head @ $2.00 (Centrebet)

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