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2021 NRL Round 23: Friday Preview & Betting Tips

August 19th 2021, 3:04pm, By: Scooby

NRL Round 23 Friday Night Betting Tips

A thrilling night of action awaits fans on Friday with 3 out of the 4 teams assured of a place in the Finals and one fighting to keep their chance alive. The Raiders are the team still fighting for a place in the Top 8 and may have been handed a golden opportunity to make it 2/2 victories over the Sea Eagles this season. The second game of the Suncorp Stadium double-header is undoubtedly the ‘game of the round’ with the 2nd place Panthers up against the 3rd place Rabbitohs. The team which wins this game will finish higher on the ladder. Despite home ground advantage being removed this year, a victory over a rival this close to the Finals is bound to boost a team’s confidence.  

NRL Round 23 Friday Betting Tips

Canberra Raiders vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Suncorp Stadium, Friday 20th August, 6.00pm (AEST)

The Raiders faced a tough test last week against the Storm and were reminded of how far they still need to improve if they are to compete with the leading teams in the competition. The final 26-16 score line wasn’t an accurate reflection of the match; the Storm jumped to a 20-4 HT lead after the Raiders opened the scoring, with the visitors left chasing their opponents for the remainder of the match. They were their own worst enemies in the end as they completed at 78% with 46% possession, made just 2 line breaks, averaged fewer metres per carry (8.2m) and missed 38 tackles.

While some improvements were noted, they have a long way to go. The Sea Eagles had no such issues in their 56-10 demolition of the Eels. The 10 try performance was dynamic and a testament to the power of their attack. They never gave their opponents a chance to get into the contest either; the Sea Eagles had 57% possession, completed at 79%, averaged 9.4m per carry, had 14 line breaks and missed only 13 tackles. More importantly, the win lifted them to 5th on the ladder and an outside chance to finish in the Top 4. With news surfacing about the injury suffered by Tom Trbojevic, the Sea Eagles could be in for a few tough weeks ahead of the Finals.  

The Stats

Head-to-Head = Raiders 14 Sea Eagles 19  

At Suncorp Stadium = Raiders 19% Sea Eagles 50% 

Last 10 Matches = Raiders 4 Sea Eagles 6 – The average winning margin is 10.3 points for the Raiders and 5.8 points for the Sea Eagles. 7 out of the past 10 matches have been decided by 12-points or less. The Raiders were victorious in Round 17 30-16. 


These two sides met back in Round 17 when the Raiders were victorious 30-16 but a lot of different factors will impact upon this game. For starters, DCE, the Trbojevic brothers and Schuster are available for this game after being absent for the previous fixture. Their inclusion alone changes the complexion of this match and justifies the Sea Eagles as favourites for this match. Despite news of his injury, Tom Trbojevic is named to play, and the selection will depend on whether he takes the field or not. Though the result will remain the same.

The Sea Eagles are the superior team and should win this match. Even with the Raiders winning 4 out of their past 6 matches. They are yet to demonstrate the consistency to compete with the contending teams in this competition. The inclusion of Trbojevic will largely influence the margin of victory and as such, the ‘Suggested Bet’ will go that way. Thankfully, you will have a clear indication 24-hours prior to kick-off and confirmation 1-hour prior to the commencement of the game. Stay tuned to Twitter to see any potential announcements.  

Option 1 – Trbojevic plays = Sea Eagles 13+ ($1.65 at Sportsbet)

Option 2 – Trbojevic doesn’t play = Sea Eagles 1-12 ($3.20 at Sportsbet)

Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs 

Suncorp Stadium, Friday 20th August, 8.05pm (AEST)

The Panthers were boosted by the return of Clearly and others to their team last week and the improvement was noted early on. They were rarely troubled in their 34-16 victory over the Dragons, scoring 6 tries and building on a 16-4 HT lead. As comfortable as the win was, they have areas which they will need to improve upon ahead of fixtures against better teams. These include their 71% completion rate, allowing 5 line breaks and missing 33 tackles. If there is one team which can reignite their attack, it is the Panthers. The Rabbitohs will look to build on their previous successes and attain for the Round 11 flogging they suffered against the Panthers, their last loss in 2021. They are a completely different team confidence-wise, and they were dominant in their 36-6 victory over the Titans.

Starting the match strongly, their opponents were unable to slow their attack and the match was over prior to HT with a 24-nil lead. They gave little away and scored tries on the back of some impressive individual and team efforts; in the end, they had 56% possession and completed at 79%, averaged 8.7m per carry, 620pcm’s, 8 line breaks and missed just 25 tackles. As they have been going about their business, this is the game they will be craving to see how they measure up with the Finals approaching. The winner of this game is bound to finish higher on the ladder and it promises to be a thrilling contest.  

The Stats

Head-to-Head = Panthers 19 Rabbitohs 15 

At Suncorp Stadium = Panthers 46% Rabbitohs 43% 

Last 10 Matches = Panthers 6 Rabbitohs 4 – The average winning margin is 10.5 points for the Panthers and 9.3 points for the Rabbitohs. 8 out of the past 10 matches have been decided by 8 points or less. The Panthers were victorious over the Rabbitohs 56-12 in Round 11. 


Both sides are different teams to the ones which lined up against one another in Round 11 and the Rabbitohs have demonstrated the most improvement since that game (which was also their last loss). You do not want to underestimate the Panthers with Cleary in their line-up but the Rabbitohs are arguably the form team between these sides heading into this contest. They have scored over 30 points in their past 8 matches while conceding an average of 16 points. In the same period, the Panthers have averaged 22.4 points in attack and conceded 16 points in defence. To put that into perspective, the Panthers spent a large portion of that time without their attacking weapons; the fact that their defence remained resolute will serve them well in this fixture. 

The return of Cleary last week was obviously timed with this fixture in mind. They want to win this game and assure themselves of a higher standing on the ladder. It is also expected that the make-up of this team will be vastly different to the one which was named on Tuesday. They are lacking some firepower in the middle and may call upon their extended reserves of Fisher-Harris and Pangai Jnr to combat the Rabbitohs in this area. The speed of the ruck and limiting that, is the key to defeating the Rabbitohs. With so many variables, take the recent history into consideration and invest around this match being a close contest. If you prefer either side (I will steer clear of this in the ‘Suggested Bet’ but have a slight lean towards the Panthers) then invest on them winning this game by the 1-12 margin.  

Either Team by 8 or Less



Scooby is our NRL guru with over ten years experience writing about rugby league with Before You Bet and previously at The Profits. His background is in playing and coaching but he's enjoyed the switch to share his knowledge through his articles, as well as sharing his thoughts on Twitter.

Scooby's strength is assessing the overall team - what they offer across the field in a match and how the ethos of a club contributes to their success. Momentum also has a major impact on sports, and Scooby likes to explore this, while underpinning his judgement against a solid basis of statistical analysis. When combined with the aforementioned points, it combines for a holistic approach towards betting on rugby league.

Other sports he enjoys include Cricket, Horse Racing and NFL. There is a reason why Scooby ‘clicked’ with BYB from Day 1 - he loves his sport as much as we do.

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