NRL Round 23 Previews and Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 23 of the 2018 NRL season.

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Broncos v Rabbitohs

Thu, Aug 16, 7:50pm
Suncorp Stadium


After conceding consecutive losses to wooden spoon contenders in the Bulldogs and Cowboys, Brisbane now face a herculean task against the Rabbitohs this week after Souths conceded a narrow four-point loss to the Roosters in their last match. The Broncos top-four hopes are in tatters and their finals-berth is now also in danger but South Sydney will be fired up after an agonising loss last week.

Souths will shift Dane Gagai to fullback with Tyrell Fuimaono starting in the centres as Mawene Hiroti makes his NRL debut from the interchange. Brisbane will welcome back Jordan Kahu and Josh McGuire at centre and lock respectively in a big boost for the club in an otherwise unchanged squad.

The Broncos look to be a distracted football team with persistent rumours circulating that coach Wayne Bennett will be forced out of the club before next year. Souths will look to capitalise on their opposition’s turmoil and deliver a dominant performance after falling just short to the Roosters last week. Expect the ‘Bunnies’ to dominate the ruck to take the points.

Betting Tip: Rabbitohs -3.5 @ $1.91 (Sportsbet)


Sea Eagles

Sea Eagles v Titans

Fri, Aug 17, 6:00pm


The shock revelation that Manly coach Trent Barrett may resign at the end of the season is indicative of turmoil behind-closed-doors at the club, but after consecutive wins against the Sharks and Bulldogs the playing group are showing some encouraging signs in the final stages of the season. They will face a Titans outfit who were left heart-broken after the Panthers produced yet another comeback win in a frustrating field-goal loss for the Gold Coast club.

Both teams have named only one change to their squads as Manly replace Taniela Paseka with Lloyd Perrett on the bench. Meanwhile, the Titans will welcome back Brenko Lee in the centres.

Each club has struggled on the field this year but have been lifted by some quality representative players in their respective squads. Daly Cherry-Evans is displaying the consistency that saw him selected as the Maroons halfback and it should be the Manly captain’s leadership that proves the difference against the Titans’ inexperienced halves pairing.

Betting Tip: Sea Eagles -6.5 @ $2.00 (Neds)



Storm v Eels

Fri, Aug 17, 7:50pm


Melbourne produced an uncharacteristically poor performance against the Sharks last week and will be aiming up against a confident Parramatta outfit who were dominant in an impressive 40-4 victory over the Dragons in their last match. The Eels’ key players are playing more consistent football but coach Brad Arthur will be working overtime to ensure his playing group meet their potential in 2019 after making the top-four last year.

Melbourne will draft Cheyse Blair onto the interchange to cover the injured Ryan Hoffman. For the Eels, Tim Mannah will return at prop at the expense of Kane Evans with Oregon Kaufusi set to make his NRL debut from the bench.

The Storm have a habit of playing poorly against the Sharks but coach Craig Bellamy will ensure his troops return to their usual high-standards this week. Good form from Parramatta relies heavily on their forward-dominance and after an encouraging performance from the Eels’ pack last week, they will be looking to lift against Melbourne’s all-star forward rotation. If the Eels bring the physicality to put Melbourne off their game, they could produce an upset, but expect the Storm to bounce back to get the win.

Betting Tip: Eels +11.5 @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)



Panthers v Knights

Sat, Aug 18, 3:00pm
Panthers Stadium


Penrith’s habit of producing miraculous comeback victories has not departed alongside former coach Anthony Griffin, with a field-goal victory against the Titans in extra-time a big statement from the playing group. There are still some concerning signs for the squad heading into the finals but they will face a Knights outfit looking to avoid their fourth consecutive defeat as their young squad still struggles to produce consistent football.

Penrith will be without James Maloney and Jack Hetherington with Tyrone May shifting to five-eighth and James Tamou making his injury return in the front-row. Moses Leota and Wayde Egan will also join the interchange. Newcastle have named an unchanged squad for the clash.

After an injury disrupted season, Knights coach Nathan Brown will be eager for his inexperienced spine to develop their combinations heading into season 2019. Penrith will be desperate to retain their top-four position but have been unable to produce an 80-minute performance all season. Could go either way but expect the star-power in the Panthers squad to get them over the line.

Betting Tip: Panthers -10.5 @ $2.00 (Unibet)



Tigers v Dragons

Sat, Aug 18, 5:30pm
Leichhardt Oval


Consecutive losses by the Broncos has handed the Tigers a golden opportunity to break into the top-eight as they sit just one win behind the eighth-placed Brisbane club on the competition ladder. Their opposition in the Dragons have slid from the top-four after a disappointing 40-4 loss to the Eels last week. Wests will be eager to capitalise on their opponent’s poor form with St George taking only one victory from their last six games.

Mahe Fonua will make his injury return in the centres alongside Chris Lawrence in the second-row. For the Dragons, Kurt Mann will shift to five-eighth to cover the injured Gareth Widdop with Luciano Leilua joining the bench.

Widdop will be a massive loss for the Dragons, piling more pressure on underperforming halfback Ben Hunt. Wests could leap-frog Brisbane on the competition ladder if they win this match and should be highly motivated, while St George will be desperate to overcome their obvious Origin hangover in time to compete for the finals. Expect the Tigers to out enthuse their struggling opposition to take the points.

Betting Tip: Tigers 1-12 @ $3.10 (Bet365)



Sharks v Cowboys

Sat, Aug 18, 7:30pm
Southern Cross Group Stadium


After struggling to find their feet early in the year with a new halves combination, the Sharks’ courageous 17-14 win over the Storm last week highlighted the progression of the Cronulla club as their hunt for a top-four berth is back on track. They will face a Cowboys outfit who produced a stunning upset over the Broncos last week in Jonathan Thurston’s last Queensland derby match.

Cronulla will be without Wade Graham in a big blow as Kurt Capewell joins the interchange as cover. Meanwhile, North Queensland will shift John Asiata to lock for the suspended Jason Taumalolo with Francis Molo also joining the interchange.

Contests between Brisbane and North Queensland often throw form out the window, but the Cowboys’ struggles this year should be made apparent by a dangerous Cronulla squad who are building nicely towards the finals. Shane Flanagan will be looking for consistency from his outfit as they sit just one win outside the top four and could leapfrog the underperforming Dragons and Panthers if they win the remainder of the games. Sharks to get the win.

Betting Tip: Sharks -8.5 @ $1.92 (Neds)



Bulldogs v Warriors

Sun, Aug 19, 2:00pm
ANZ Stadium


After a woeful round 20 loss to the Titans many critics wrote the Warriors off, but consecutive wins against the Dragons and Knights will have fans cautiously optimistic about their team’s finals prospects. The New Zealand club will face the Bulldogs – who failed to fire in a disappointing 18-6 loss to Manly last week – but coach Stephen Kearney will be looking for consistency heading into the finals to make a play for the premiership from outside the top-four.

For Canterbury, boom rookie Lachlan Lewis will return at five-eighth at the expense of Matt Frawley. The Warriors have elected to name an unchanged squad for the clash.

The Kiwis looked comfortable in their 20-4 win over the Knights last week and with their potent spine looking to be building form nicely the Warriors look like they could be a danger in the play-offs. The Bulldogs lack the star-power to compete with the NRL’s top sides, and at their best the Warriors are capable of matching it with any top-four outfit. Warriors to get the points.

Betting Tip: Warriors -4.5 @ $1.93 (Bet365)



Raiders v Roosters

Sun, Aug 19, 4:10pm
GIO Stadium


This match will feature the competition’s best attacking team in the Raiders against the Roosters, who boast the best defensive record in the NRL. The tri-colours shifted to competition leaders last week with an impressive four-point victory over the Rabbitohs, while the Raiders fell short of a resurgent Tigers outfit who staved off a comeback to take a two-point win.

Canberra will swap Brad Abbey and Nick Cotric between fullback and wing with Emre Guler making his NRL debut off the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. An injury to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will mean Dylan Napa shifts to prop with Nat Butcher joining the bench.

Trent Robinson has once again developed his squad into one of the competition’s best sides. Having all but secured an ever-important top-four berth, Robinson will be looking for consistency from his troops in preparation for their push to the premiership. Canberra do present a danger but if the ‘Chooks’ can keep complacency at bay they should get the points.

Betting Tip: Roosters -6.5 @ $1.92 (Sportsbet)


Best Bet

Tigers 1-12 @ $3.10 (Bet365)


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