The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2023 NRL season. Best bets for the round are also provided.
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Panthers v Rabbitohs
Thursday, March 9, 7:50pm AEDT
Penrith conceded a shock upset to an improved Broncos in round one and the reigning premiers’ task is no easier this week coming up against a Souths squad who were dominant over the highly-rated Sharks last week. After their promising finals campaign was ended by Penrith in 2022, the Rabbitohs will be looking to get one back over their opposition and prove they can be a genuine top-four contender after placing seventh last season.
The Panthers will miss Scott Sorensen to concussion, with Matt Eisenhuth taking his place on the bench in an otherwise unchanged 17. Meanwhile, Souths will be missing Tevita Tatola and Jai Arrow in a big blow to their pack with Daniel Suluka-Fifita and Jed Cartwright coming in at prop and off the bench respectively. Latrell Mitchell is set to play after a knee-injury scare as is rookie winger Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson despite Taane Milne’s availability.
Penrith will take time to adapt to the absence of the influential pair of Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau after displaying some uncharacteristic vulnerability last week. Coach Ivan Cleary will be tinkering with his new hooking combination of Mitch Kenny and Soni Luke to give more impact at dummy-half, while Tigers import Luke Garner’s combinations on the edge still need time to develop. While Souths are well place to capitalise on their play-making nous against a squad still figuring out how to play their best football, expect a fierce response from the
Panthers’ pack, who were soundly out-muscled by Brisbane last week. This match could go either way but expect the reigning premiers to kickstart their title defence with a win.
Betting Tip: Panthers -4.5 @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Eels v Sharks
Friday, March 10, 6pm AEDT
An understrength Parramatta outfit fell agonisingly short against a red-hot Storm team last week in a disappointing start for the 2022 grand-finalists. They will face a Sharks outfit who were similarly outclassed by Souths, albeit without their best player in Nicho Hynes. Both these teams could well be competing for a top-four berth at the end of the year and will be desperate to avoid consecutive losses to start their respective seasons.
For Cronulla, veteran forward Wade Graham is out for a month with suspension with Royce Hunt joining the bench alongside Connor Tracey on the bench. For the Eels, Brad Arthur has named Sean Russell to replace Isaac Lumelume on the wing in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Cronulla’s potent attack looked below its best in the absence of chief playmaker Nicho Hynes. Parramatta will be looking to capitalise on their home-ground advantage after a disappointing loss but both teams will be desperate to chalk up a win. This match could go either way but expect the Eels to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks +5.5 @ $1.95 (Boombet)
Broncos v Cowboys
Friday, March 10, 8:05pm AEDT
Brisbane produced a shock upset against the reigning premiers in round one, winning an impressive field-goal victory in promising signs the club continues to improve under coach Kevin Walters. They will face the Cowboys for this season’s first Queensland derby after the club staved off a desperate second-half comeback from Canberra – also winning courtesy of a Chad Townsend field-goal.
The Cowboys benefited enormously from continuity in their squad last season and coach Todd Payten has again named an unchanged squad in promising signs. Meanwhile, Brisbane have named star recruit Reece Walsh at fullback in a big boost to their attack, with boom rookie Selwyn Cobbo shifting to the wing in place of Jesse Arthars in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
Cowboys coach Todd Payten will be looking for more consistency across the 80 minutes from his team after a disappointing second-half against Canberra last week. Brisbane displayed some hugely improved defence against Penrith, but face a major test against the potent play-making combinations in North Queensland’s spine that spearheaded the club into the top-four last season. This match could go either way but expect the Broncos to get the win in a narrow contest.
Betting Tip: Broncos H2H @ $1.80 (Colossalbet)
Roosters v Warriors
Saturday, March 11, 3pm AEDT
An under-fire Roosters outfit conceded a disappointing round-one loss to the Dolphins in their inaugural NRL match as the tri-colours look to overcome a significant injury toll to avoid the same poor start to their season that cruelled their top-four aspirations last year. They will face a resurgent Warriors outfit who produced an impressive victory over Newcastle last week in a promising start to rookie coach Andrew Webster’s tenure at the club.
The Kiwis have named an unchanged 17 in great signs that the Warriors five new recruits have gelled well into their new roles in the team. Meanwhile, the Roosters’ injury woes continue with prop Matt Lodge ruled out for an extended period with a facial fracture. Fletcher Baker will come into the starting side as cover, alongside Joey Manu’s injury return at centre in a welcome boost for the club. Victor Radley and Brandon Smith will need to pass concussion protocols but have been named to play.
A wounded Roosters squad represents a massive test for this new-look Warriors outfit. Andrew Webster’s troops will be looking to prove themselves against elite opposition but expect a big response from Trent Robinson’s troops after a disappointing performance in the opening round. This match could go either way but expect a big response from Trent Robinson’s troops. Roosters to get the win.
Betting Tip: Warriors +13.5 @ $1.91 (Picklebet)
Dolphins v Raiders
Saturday, March 11, 5:30pm AEDT
Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins produced an inspirational upset victory over the Roosters in their inaugural NRL match in a wonderful start for the new club. Their task will get no easier this week coming up against a Raiders outfit burning from a field-goal loss to North Queensland after mounting an impressive second-half comeback.
An injury to utility forward Ray Stone will see promising rookie middle Mason Teague make his NRL debut off the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, Canberra have replaced the suspended Jordan Rapana with Albert Hopoate on the wing in Ricky Stuart’s only change.
In the absence of a major marquee play-maker, the Dolphins have built their squad around hard-working toilers and look well-placed to produce a competitive first season in the NRL. They showcased some brutal defence led by former Storm veteran Felise Kaufusi but will face a stern test against a high quality Canberra pack. While this match could go either way, the Dolphins will be playing their first game at their traditional home-ground in Redcliffe. Expect a massive performance from the new club in front of their home-fans. Dolphins to get the points.
Betting Tip: Dolphins +3.5 @ $1.97 (Unibet)
Storm v Bulldogs
Saturday, March 11, 7:35pm AEDT
Melbourne’s inspirational victory over the Eels last week came at a significant cost with superstar Cameron Munster facing a month on the sidelines. Despite his absence, Melbourne produced a monumental effort to extend coach Craig Bellamy’s record of round-one victories to 20 consecutive seasons. They will face a gutted Bulldogs outfit who were dominated by Manly last week with new coach Cameron Ciraldo facing a big challenge to get his troops firing.
Tyran Wishart will replace Cameron Munster in the halves with Warriors import Aaron Pene coming onto the bench. Winger Xavier Coates has also been named to back-up after sustaining a shoulder injury. Interestingly, Ciraldo has named an unchanged Bulldogs line-up with rookies Jacob Preston and Jayden Tanner retaining their positions on the interchange.
Melbourne will enter this match as firm favourites given the lack of fluidity between Canterbury’s new spine combinations. The Bulldogs would need to summon a Herculean effort to overcome the Storm based on their performance last week. Expect Melbourne’s play-making class to prove too much for their opposition.
Betting Tip: Storm -8.0 @ $1.95 (Playup)
Tigers v Knights
Sunday, March 12, 4:05pm AEDT
The Tigers’ new era under veteran coach Tim Sheens started with a fizzle after a disappointing performance against the Titans last week. With the new coaching staff and their selection calls facing much scrutiny, the Tigers will be desperate to avoid consecutive losses to start their season. Their opposition in Newcastle were similarly poor in the opening round and with Adam O’Brien facing mounting pressure as head-coach expect an intense performance from both teams.
Captain Api Koroisau has been named to start after much was made of his club debut off the bench last week. Alex Seyfarth will replace the injured Fonua Pole on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For Newcastle, the injured Adam Elliot will be replaced with Jack Johns on the interchange. Dane Gagai will return from a hamstring injury at centre in a big boost for the club.
Expect an intense contest with both teams under pressure to avoid consecutive losses to start their season. Tigers fans will be hoping captain Api Koroisau can have a greater influence on their game after playing only 46 minutes last week, while Newcastle will also be looking for their spine to fire with coach Adam O’Brien staking his reputation on imported fullback and halfback Lachlan Miller and Jackson Hastings, as well as star Kalyn Ponga’s shift to the halves. This match could go either way but expect Wests to get the win.
Betting Tip: Tigers -2.5 @ $1.90 (Colossalbet)
Dragons v Titans
Sunday, March 12, 6:15pm AEDT
St George received a bye in round one, with a weekly bye now a permanent feature of the 17-team competition. With a number of lean years heaping pressure on coach Anthony Griffin, the Dragons will be desperate to start their season positively. Their opposition in the Titans recorded a solid win against a poor Tigers squad last week and will be eager to notch consecutive wins.
Jack Bird will replace the injured Jack De Belin at lock, while veteran Moses Mbye starts at hooker and rookie Jayden Sullivan partners Ben Hunt in the halves. Coach Anthony Griffin has named Toby Couchman to make his NRL debut on the bench, alongside club debutants Zane Musgrove, Michael Molo and Jacob Liddle. Talatau Amone is also eligible to play and has been added to their reserves. Meanwhile, the Titans are unchanged after Kieran Foran overcame a knee injury scare after a promising debut for the club last week.
With new spine combinations and an all-new interchange, St George may struggle with cohesion and combinations. Key star signings Kieran Foran and Sam Verrills produced promising performances at five-eighth and hooker respectively and their combinations will only improve with time. Both teams are capable of winning this match but expect the Titans to get the win.
Betting Tip: Titans H2H @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Dolphins +3.5 @ $1.97 (Unibet)
Titans H2H @ $1.91 (Bet365)