The 2017 NRL season continues this weekend as we enter the final four weeks of the competition. We preview every game over the weekend in our NRL Round 23 Preview and Betting Tips below.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury Bulldogs (Thursday 7.50pm AEST)
These two sides’ seasons are over but no one told the Rabbitohs that. Last week they produced one of the comebacks of the season to overturn a 10-point deficit in the final eight minutes. It was a lot of effort from a side that is playing for pride.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs produced the total opposite performance. The side has absolutely nothing in attack and the calls for coach Des Hasler’s head are getting louder after each game. The team has no direction and the late changes he made to the side didn’t help their cause. He has kept Chase Stanley in the side at halfback and we can’t see him helping the Bulldogs attack, even if they do play in dryer conditions this Thursday night. We are backing the Rabbitohs to win this one comfortably.
Parramatta Eels vs Newcastle Knights (Friday 6pm AEST)
The Knights are coming off a couple of great weeks. Not only have they won two games in a row on the field, for the first time in two seasons. But they have also secured their future with the Wests League going through its final motions to take control of the Knights. The side has put in effort all season and they are facing a large line in this one that we think they will cover.
Meanwhile the Eels have had a great month. They have climbed into striking distance of the top four and sit on the same competition points as the third placed Broncos. The side has improved its defence drastically over this period and it will be hard for the Knights to get their names on the scoreboard. However, with Bevan French entering the game with hamstring concerns, we are predicting the Knights to be able to stay within the line for this contest.
Brisbane Broncos vs Cronulla Sharks (Friday 7.50pm AEST)
I don’t think anybody was expecting that performance from the Brisbane Broncos last week with Andrew McCullough on the sidelines. They produced one of their best games of the season to annihilate Queensland rivals the Gold Coast Titans 54-0. Ben Hunt was a standout in the hooker role and he will take to the field as the number 9 this Friday night. We are predicting them to put together another strong performance, as they will lift against the defending premiers and in front of their home fans at Suncorp stadium.
Meanwhile the Sharks will enter the contest on the back of a disappointing loss against the Raiders. The side took the lead early on but from there they never looked like they were going to win the match. The Sharks have been very hot and cold this season but they still find themselves in the top four. We are predicting this match to be close but the home side will get the competition points.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Gold Coast Titans (Saturday 3pm AEST)
The Dragons chances of reaching the finals took a hit last week as they continue to tumble down the ladder. As mentioned above, they were leading against the Bunnies will less than 10 minutes to remaining only to see their lead disappear. The side can’t afford to lose to teams outside the top eight and especially when they have a lead and are suppose to close out those matches. Fortunately for them, they should be able to return to winning ways this weekend when they take on a Titans outfit that is coming off a 54 point loss and is licking its wounds. The Titans have suffered injuries all year and they have nothing to play for. They won’t be able to produce an effort to defeat the Dragons on the road.
Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Roosters (Saturday 5.30pm AEST)
The top of the table clash begins on Saturday night with the Storm hosting the Roosters. The Storm have a four competition point cushion at the top of the table and with a superior for and against it is hard to see them losing the race to the minor premiership from here. They were able to get the job done in convincing fashion last week on the road against the Cowboys as they prove to be too clinical in attack to stop while their defence is the best in the competition. With Cameron Smith and Billy Slater looking to send off Cooper Cronk as a champion they will be hard to beat in this game and for the rest of the season.
The Roosters are coming off a humiliating loss against the Sea Eagles last week. They led early only to see that vanquish and have 36 points scored on them. We are predicting the side to be more competitive in this one but ultimately they will come up short. They earned the win when these sides met last time but the Storm were resting their representative players.
Penrith Panthers vs North Queensland Cowboys (Saturday 7.30pm AEST)
The Cowboys and Panthers meet on Saturday night in a match that is very important in determining the outcome of the top eight sides. The Panthers are on the rise, winning nine of their last 11 matches and there is an obvious reason why – the move of Matt Moylan into the five-eighth position. Nathan Cleary has excelled on the back of the move over the last couple of weeks as their halves paring develops and they work out the styles of each others game. The two are sharing the playmaking role well. However, the unsung hero is Dylan Edwards who has replaced Moylan at the back. The 21-year old has been terrific at the fullback role and we believe he will be a big reason in the home side getting the victory this weekend.
The Cowboys are coming off a loss last week against the Storm and it is evident they are missing Johnathan Thurston – every side would. They lacked the finesse to score points and while they are facing a side that’s defence isn’t as strong, the Panthers have the ability to score points better than any team in the competition. The Cowboys will keep the match close but ultimately the home side will win.
New Zealand Warriors vs Canberra Raiders (Sunday 2pm AEST)
The Warriors season has gone from bad to worse. The side is currently on a five game losing streak and they put together little effort in their most recent defeat against the Knights. Their opening 40-minutes was dreadful and while their intensity increased in the second half, they never looked like winning the match. Their forward pack is a pushover, which is a bad sign for a team that is coming up against a Raiders forward pack that got the upper hand against the Sharks last week.
The Green Machine kept their finals aspirations alive with a convincing win over the defending premiers. The side is still a mathematical chance of making the eight but they will need to win all of their remaining games. We believe that is why they will secure the victory in New Zealand, they will be desperate to keep their hopes alive, especially against the Warriors who haven’t been consistent this year – which isn’t a rare occurrence.
Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles (Sunday 4pm AEST)
The Wests Tigers weren’t able to get the job done last week against the Panthers despite a competitive first half. They are playing to avoid the wooden spoon at the moment with the Knights creeping up behind them. James Tedesco continues to play at a high level but his halves Luke Brooks and Tuimalola Lolohea let him down with poor service. The Tigers forward pack doesn’t lay much of a platform though and we can’t see them outmuscling the Sea Eagles.
Manly will enter this game full of confidence after bouncing back from two huge defeats to dismantle the Roosters. The side has had one of the most rollercoaster season of any side but fortunately for them they have been riding the rollercoaster on the high for enough to see them into the top eight. They have points in them but whether they can keep that up against the strong teams is questionable. However, they will be able to defeat the Tigers for the second time in the space of six weeks.
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