The following are previews with betting tips for the Preliminary Finals of the 2023 NRL season.
Storm v Roosters
Friday, September 15, 7:50pm AEST
Melbourne’s finals campaign got off to a rocky start last week with the Victorian juggernaut conceding 26 unanswered points to a red-hot Broncos squad despite fielding a strong team bursting with big game experience. They will be primed for a big game against the Roosters, who have won six consecutive games after edging Cronulla by a field-goal in a thrilling contest with veteran coach Trent Robinson’s finals experience proving invaluable.
The Storm’s defeat to Brisbane came at a heavy cost, with talismanic fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen suffering a broken ankle alongside the injured Xavier Coates and Young Tonumaipea. Justin Olam and Reimis Smith will return to form a new centre-wing combination, with Alec MacDonald replacing Papenhuyzen on the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. Halfback Jarome Hughes is also in doubt, with Jonah Pezet his likely replacement if he is ruled out. Meanwhile, the Roosters face their own injury problems with backline trio Joseph Manu, Billy Smith and Joseph Suaali’i all absent. Paul Momirovski will make a timely return from a shoulder injury to form a new centre combination alongside the returning Corey Allan with Jaxson Paulo also recalled on the wing.
Craig Bellamy’s troops have made a habit of bouncing back ferociously from poor performances this season and the veteran coach will be expecting far more from superstar trio of Harry Grant, Cam Munster and Jarome Hughes with the ball. Expect the Roosters defence to be vulnerable on their edges with disrupted defensive combinations on both sides of the field. Melbourne to get the win and book themselves in for a thrilling preliminary final against the reigning premiers.
Betting Tip: Storm -7.5 @ $1.95 (Picklebet)
Warriors v Knights
Saturday, September 16, 4:05pm AEST
The Warriors will be licking their wounds after they were dominated by Penrith in the opening week of the finals series with the New Zealand club struggling for cohesion in the absence of talismanic halfback Shaun Johnson. They will face a Knights squad who survived a brutal clash against a desperate Raiders squad last week, with a Kalyn Ponga penalty goal in the 88th minute sealing the result. After such a brutal encounter, the momentum of 10 consecutive wins for the Newcastle club faces a stern test in a difficult away-trip to New Zealand.
While Shaun Johnson has been named to return from a calf injury, his fitness still needs to be proved with Dylan Walker on standby as cover for the Warriors. The Kiwi club were fortunate to sustain no injuries last week against Penrith. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s last-start victory came at a heavy price, with Jackson Hastings and Lachlan Fitzgibbon injured. Adam Clune and Dylan Lucas will return at halfback and second-row respectively in Adam O’Brien’s only changes.
Much of the Warriors hopes rest on the fitness of Shaun Johnson, but even in his absence the Kiwi club’s attack will not face the same challenges against Newcastle after being stifled by the reigning premiers last week. Expect the Kiwis to meet Newcastle’s trademark physicality head-on and with a tough-as-nails forward rotation, the Warriors should be set for a huge preliminary finals clash against the Broncos.
Betting Tip: Knights + 5.5 @ $1.90 (PlayUp)