NRL Round 23 Previews and Tips
Cowboys v Rabbitohs
Thu 13 Aug, 7:45 pm, 1300SMILES Stadium
The North Queensland Cowboys will play the South Sydney Rabbitohs this Friday night in Townsville in one of the major top-four clashes leading into the NRL finals. With the finals looming the form of the top four will be under the microscope as both teams come into the match after losing against oppositions lower on the competition ladder last week.
The only change for the Cowboys comes as Matt Scott pushes Ben Hannant to the bench while the Rabbitohs welcome Kyle Turner back for the suspended Glenn Stewart with Nathan Brown also replacing Chris Grevsmuhl on the bench.
Taking on the Cowboys is a tough ask in Townsville, particularly as the Rabbitohs’ confidence will be shot after a poor showing against Manly. The Cowboys pride will be more intact after their loss against Cronulla spurned a rise to 5th for the Sharks but both teams have displayed worrying inconsistency heading into the finals. Expect the Cowboys’ home ground advantage to get them over the line in a close contest.
Ben’s Tip: Rabbitohs +7.0 @ $1.96 (Pinnacle Sports)
Broncos v Dragons
Fri 14 Aug, 7:45 pm, Suncorp Stadium
The Brisbane Broncos will play the St George Illawarra Dragons this Friday night in a clash between two clubs whose seasons are very much at a tipping point. The Broncos face the unfamiliar position of three consecutive losses should they lose against the Dragons and will need to work to get back to their dominant best if they hope to take out the 2015 Premiership.
The Dragons are part way through a similar process with two consecutive wins breaking a worrying losing streak for the joint venture club. After their shutout of the Warriors last week, the Dragons need to consolidate their position in the top 8 under threat from the Bulldogs and Manly.
The Broncos will be missing Justin Hodges and Corey Oates for the game with Dale Copley and Adam Blair coming into the side as Jarrod Wallace goes back to the bench. The only change for the Dragons comes with Nathan Green coming onto the wing.
The Broncos were vastly improved against the Bulldogs last week from their poor performance against Manly, and the Dragons resurgence has come against the lowly Knights and Warriors side minus Shaun Johnson. Expect the Dragons to fall short against a much improved Broncos outfit.
Ben’s Tip: Dragons +11.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
Tigers v Knights
Sat 15 Aug, 3:00 pm, Campbelltown Sports Stadium
The Wests Tigers will play the Newcastle Knights this Saturday afternoon in a match between two clubs who will likely have written off the remainder of the 2015 season. With the Tigers unlikely to crack to top eight and the sacking of Rick Stone at the Knights, pride will be the decider in this match.
The Tigers have named an unchanged squad from their last start win over the Raiders while the Knights will welcome back Kade Snowden from a concussion in the Front Row with Jake Mamo also coming in at Fullback.
The Tigers will look to start the turnaround positively for 2016 with some good form against the lowly Knights after a disappointing season. Often excused as inexperienced, the Tigers will be looking to capitalise on the past few seasons experience for young halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks as they look to the future success of the club. Expect the Tigers to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Tigers -7.5 @ $1.93 (Pinnacle Sports)
Panthers v Warriors
Sat 15 Aug, 5:30 pm, Pepper Stadium
The Penrith Panthers will play the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday evening as the New Zealand club’s season was further derailed last week with a 36-0 shutout loss against the Dragons putting a major dent in their confidence. The Panthers will be equally dejected after their 5th consecutive loss last week summed up a frustrating season for the Penrith club.
The Panthers will welcome back David Simmons on the wing, while the Warriors will bring in Dominique Peyroux in place of the injured Manu Vatuvei. NSW hero Ryan Hoffman will return from a calf injury while Konrad Hurrell displaces Siliva Havili on the bench.
Only one win outside the top eight, the Warriors will be doing everything to push for a finals berth but the odds are against them with a poor for-against record and four consecutive losses. They will look to dominate their wounded opposition in the Panthers to get their finals campaign back on track, and expect their big forwards to do exactly that.
Ben’s Tip: Warriors +8.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Roosters v Eels
Sat 15 Aug, 7:30 pm, Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Roosters will take on the Parramatta Eels this Saturday night as the Sydney club once again head into the NRL Premiership finals series as favourites, despite sitting 3rd on the competition ladder. Warming into form at the perfect time, the Roosters haven’t lost a match since round 13 and will look to overcome the top two entrenched Cowboys and Broncos for the minor Premiership.
The Eels are an outside chance to make the finals, but it’s dire straits for the Parramatta club as they sit 12th on the ladder, two wins outside the top eight with a poor for-against record.
Mitchell Pearce returns for the ‘Chooks in the only change for the club, while the Eels will bring in Ryan Morgan for Will Hopoate after their win over the Panthers last week.
The Roosters should overcome the Eels easily, although they do have a habit of getting too comfortable against teams lower on the ladder. If the Eels come out firing, they could upset the ‘Chooks, but expect Trent Robinson to have his men on song heading into the finals.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Over 44.5 @ $1.90 (William Hill)
Raiders v Sea Eagles
Sun 16 Aug, 2:00 pm, GIO Stadium
The Canberra Raiders will take on the Manly Sea Eagles this Sunday afternoon in a match that will mean a lot to both teams’ finals chances. The Raiders sit two wins outside the top eight while Manly are only one win away from making the play-offs. The Sea Eagles have resurrected their season from the dead as they look to become the first team in history to make the finals after sitting last at the conclusion of round 16.
The Raiders will welcome back Edrick Lee on the wing, pushing Sisa Waqa to the centres in place of the suspended Joey Leilua while Willie Mason’s suspension will see Josh Starling start at Prop while Ligi Sao comes on the bench for the Sea Eagles.
On recent form the Sea Eagles will go into this match heavy favourites after three consecutive wins has them on track for a miraculous resurgence into finals contention. Expect the Raiders to display their trademark enthusiasm and heart, but the Sea Eagles look to be back to their best as they look to send Geoff Toovey out on a high. Sea Eagles to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Total Match Points Over 43.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Bulldogs v Titans
Sun 16 Aug, 4:00 pm, ANZ Stadium
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs will play the Gold Coast Titans this Sunday afternoon as the Queensland club laments what could have been in season 2015 after losing once again to the Storm last week. Having lost the signature of Daly Cherry-Evans, the club has secured Broncos under 20s sensation Ashley Taylor but the club looks set for a major rebuilding period in the foreseeable future.
The Bulldogs go into this game with a curious record of 10 wins and losses, 408 points for and against and an equal home-away win-loss record. The Bulldogs stats are perfectly symmetrical but coach Des Hasler will be looking to skew them in the ‘Dogs favour as Greg Eastwood returns at the expense of Lloyd Perrett.
For the Titans, Beau Fallon and Eddy Pettybourne return as Daniel Mortimer and Matthew White drop back to the bench at the expense of Kierran Moseley and Lachlan Burr.
The Bulldogs will go into this match as heavy favourites and despite their inconsistent form of late, Des Hasler should have his men ready to display their best against a dejected Titans outfit. Bulldogs to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Bulldogs -14.5 @ $1.91 (Unibet)
Sharks v Storm
Mon 17 Aug, 7:00 pm, Remondis Stadium
The Cronulla Sharks will play the Melbourne Storm this Monday night as the Sharks look to cap off their remarkable surge into the top eight with a win over the Storm. At the beginning of the season things looked good for the Sharks with the return of Shane Flanagan to the coaching role along with the signing of Ben Barba, but they found themselves struggling early in the season as things looked bleak for the club in 2015.
The discovery of rookie star Jack Bird turned that around for the Sharks as Luke Lewis returns from a knee injury while the Storm will replace the suspended Felise Kaufusi with Nelson Asofa-Solomona on the bench.
On recent form the Sharks have the advantage with five consecutive wins while the Storm have managed three from their last five games. The Storm showed a worrying lapse in form against the Tigers in round 21 and faced a poor opposition in the Titans last week so expect the Sharks to capitalise on Melbourne’s lack of confidence. Sharks to come away with the points.
Ben’s Tip: Sharks Head to Head @ $1.80 (William Hill)