The following are previews with betting tips for Round 27 of the 2023 NRL season. Best bets for the round are also provided.
Broncos v Storm
Thursday, August 31, 7:50pm AEST
The final round of the 2023 NRL competition will kick off with a top-four clash between the Broncos and Storm but with their finals’ berth secured, both clubs have wrapped their stars in cotton wool heading into the play-offs. Brisbane secured a guaranteed top-two finish with a dominant performance against the Raiders last week, while Melbourne were clinical against the Titans.
Brisbane have elected to rest most of their starting team, with Josh Rogers and exciting rookie Blake Mozer set for their NRL debut at five-eighth and off the bench respectively. Meanwhile, Melbourne are similarly resting 11 players with Ryan Papenhuyzen headlining a new-look squad with his first starting berth at fullback since returning from injury, while exciting youngsters Jack Howarth and Sualauvi Faalogo are also making their NRL debuts off the interchange.
Both teams are fielding rookie spine combinations but will still benefit from an enormous amount of big-game experience on the field. With both teams changed so drastically, it will be hard to pick the winner but expect the Broncos to get the points.
Betting Tip: Broncos -2.5 @ 1.91 (bet365)
Sea Eagles v Tigers
Friday, September 1, 6pm AEST
Manly have endured a difficult season littered with injuries and off-field dramas in Anthony Seibold’s first year as head coach, but the club have done an admirable job to record 10 wins to their name. Their opposition have also had a disappointing season, culminating in the sacking of coach Tim Sheens as the Tigers firm for the wooden-spoon.
The Sea Eagles were dominant against a hapless Canterbury squad last week and have named an unchanged squad heading into this game. Meanwhile, Wests will be missing John Bateman and Stefano Utoikamanu with Alex Twal and Jake Simpkin returning from injury at prop and hooker while Josh Feledy and Kit Laulilii are set for their NRL debuts at centre and off the bench respectively.
Manly will enter this match as firm favourites, but playing under new coach and club-legend Benji Marshall, expect the joint-venture club to be fired-up to finish their season on a positive note. Manly to get the win.
Betting Tip: Tigers +13.5 @ $1.95 (bet365)
Rabbitohs v Roosters
Friday, September 1, 8pm AEST
Friday night will bring a blockbuster showdown between Souths and the Roosters in a crucial clash that will determine which team makes the finals as they jostle for the eighth position on the competition ladder. The Rabbitohs enjoyed a welcome rest after their round-25 capitulation to Newcastle, while the Roosters enjoyed a dominant win over Wests for their fourth consecutive victory on their warpath back into finals contention.
Souths have lost Latrell Mitchell to suspension in a massive blow for the club’s finals chances, with Blake Taafe coming in at fullback and Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson also joining the wing. Michael Chee-Kam will also replace Jacob Host in the second-row in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Roosters also suffered a big blow last week with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves facing a lengthy suspension and Joey Manu succumbing to injury with his replacement yet to be named. Fletcher Baker will come in at prop as cover with captain James Tedesco also returning from a head-knock for Trent Robinson’s only changes.
If the Roosters can record their fifth consecutive win to make the finals, it will be a miraculous turnaround for the club, but they will still need to rely on other results to make the eight. With South Sydney battling off-field controversy and poor form on the field, expect the Roosters to come away with the points.
Betting Tip: Roosters +3.5 @ $1.95 (Playup)
Dolphins v Warriors
Saturday, September 2, 3pm AEST
Te Maire Martin will make a timely return for the Warriors at five-eighth with the club also opting to rest a number of stars including Wayde Egan, Shaun Johnson and Addin Fonua-Blake. Freddy Lussick, Ronald Volkman and Taine Tuaupiki will come in at hooker, halfback and fullback respectively with Mitchell Barnett, Tome Ale and Braiden Williame also coming into the forwards at prop and off the bench. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will welcome skipper Jesse Bromwich’s return from injury with Max Plath also set to join the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
With a home-ground advantage and their opposition fielding a massively understrength squad, the Dolphins will enter this match as favourites. With the Warriors fielding an all rookie spine, expect the experience and play-making nous within the Queensland club’s line up to prove the difference.
Betting Tip: Dolphins -3.5 @ $1.72 (bet365)
Panthers v Cowboys
Saturday, September 2, 5:30pm AEST
Unlike their top-four rivals, Penrith have not elected to rest any of their star players for the final round after giving different players time off over the last few weeks. Scott Sorensen, Dylan Edwards, Sunia Turuva and Luke Sommerton will all join the starting squad at second-row, fullback, wing and hooker respectively in an otherwise unchanged squad. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have named an unchanged 17.
If the Cowboys can bring their best football, they certainly have the squad to produce an upset against Penrith – but with the reigning premiers electing not to rest players, expect a focussed performance from the club as they gear-up for a massive finals campaign. Panthers to get the win.
Betting Tip: Panthers -8.5 @ $1.96 (Boombet)
Dragons v Knights
Saturday, September 2, 7:35pm AEST
Despite losing their last five games, the Dragons have come agonisingly close against some quality opposition in recent weeks, showing positive signs for incoming coach Shane Flanagan. They will face an in-form Newcastle outfit who were at their devastating best against Cronulla, notching their eighth consecutive win.
A massive scare went through the Knights’ camp with superstar Kalyn Ponga sustaining a shoulder injury, but the talented fullback is backed to return for the first week of the finals campaign. Dane Gagai, Phoenix Crossland and Tyson Frizell have also earned a rest with the club’s home-final already guaranteed. Lachlan Miller and Enari Tuala will join the backline at fullback and centre, while Brodie Jones and Riley Jones will come in at second-row and off the bench. Meanwhile, St George will welcome Jack De Belin back at lock with Michael Molo also joining the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Newcastle will enter this match as favourites but with a number of stars missing and a home-final guaranteed, they should be cautious of a proud St George squad eager to produce an upset. Expect a tough physical contest but the momentum of the Knights should prove too much for their opposition.
Betting Tip: Knights -1.5 @ $1.91 (bet365)
Titans v Bulldogs
Sunday, September 3, 2pm AEST
Canterbury have named Kurtis Morrin and Samuel Hughes to join the bench, but they could make way for injured duo Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Ryan Sutton, who were included in the reserves as they work their way back from injuries. For the Titans, Moeaki Fotuaika will return at prop after missing last week for personal reasons in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
While they have endured a difficult year including the sacking of coach Justin Holbrook, the Titans boast a youthful squad bursting with talent with plenty of upside for incoming coach Des Hasler. Titans to get the points.
Betting Tip: Titans -11.5 @ $1.90 (Bet Right)
Sharks v Raiders
Sunday, September 3, 4:05pm AEST
Both the Raiders and Sharks suffered humbling last-start losses on the eve of the finals series, but with their finals berth guaranteed, each team will be desperate to produce a good performance to build momentum for their finals campaigns. Cronulla were dismantled by the Knights last week in a woeful performance, while the Raiders loss to the competition-leading Broncos came at a very high cost.
Canberra will lose Corey Horsburgh and Josh Papali’i to suspension and injury in a devastating blow to their middle rotation. Hohepa Puru will join the bench as cover with Pasami Saulo also likely to come into the squad in an otherwise unchanged 17. Meanwhile, Cronulla will only make one change with Nicho Hynes returning from injury at halfback in a huge boost.
Given the Raiders will be missing two of their best middle-forwards, the Sharks will enter this match as firm favourites. Both teams will be looking to produce a positive performance as they face daunting finals campaigns without key players. This match could go either way but expect Cronulla to get the points.
Betting Tip: Sharks -9.5 @ $1.91 (bet365)
Roosters +3.5 @ $1.95 (Playup)