It is a fitting end to the NRL season that the two best teams in the competition will face off against one another in the decider. Season 2023 has been action packed, with exciting rugby league on display each week. The Panthers and Broncos will aim to continue this trend and give rugby league fans the exhilarating decider that they crave. Their class compared to the rest of the competition was demonstrated last week, with both recording dominating victories over the other two sides in the Top 4.
All season long, BeforeYouBet has been here to take a detailed look at the action and we hope to finish the season off by finding you a winner. Strap yourself in, this game promises to be a blockbuster encounter.
2023 NRL Grand Final Preview & Betting Tips
Penrith Panthers vs Brisbane Broncos
Accor Stadium, Sunday 1st October, 6:30pm (AEST)
The Panthers won their way through with a commanding 38-4 victory over the Storm. Always expected to win, the Panthers executed with the same level of consistency and class which have won them the past two premierships. Scoring just after 3 minutes, the Storm fought their way back in a tight opening 20 minutes, until the Panthers scored two more converted tries to head into HT ahead 18-4. The Storm were again competitive to open the second half, but the Panthers eventually wore their opponents down, keeping them scoreless for the final 70 minutes. Their dominance was highlighted in the stats; they dominated possession (56%), completed at 87%, carrying for more metres and creating 8 line breaks. They were just as strong in defence, missing only 29 tackles and allowing just 4 line breaks.
The Broncos match against the Warriors was just as competitive early on, but they too kicked into another gear to prevail 42-12. Conceding 3 first half tries and scoring 4 of their own, they were lucky that poor goal kicking meant they were ahead 24-12 at HT. They also managed to keep their opponents scoreless in the second half, while scoring 3 further tries to make a statement of their own. After the Panthers performance the night before, it was no surprise to see the Broncos outclass the Warriors in all areas; they controlled possession (53%) with an 82% completion rate, ran for an average of 9.5m per carry, made 11 line breaks and had 615pcm’s. Just like the Panthers, they were strong in defence, missing 31 tackles and allowing 4 line breaks. The similarities between each team in their performance last week indicates just how exciting this match will be.
The parallels between these two sides are endless; you could spend a lot of time comparing the squads and breaking down each position to find several different outcomes. The odds have the Panthers as favourites ($1.62 vs $2.30), and it is no surprise given their form and defensive record throughout the season. It is impressive to say the least. With both teams averaging 27ppg in attack, the Panthers have conceded just 12ppg compared to the Broncos 16ppg. Both have played the Storm in the Finals, with the Panthers conceding 1 try and the Broncos keeping them scoreless. While the opponent they faced was the same, the circumstances and overall ‘set up’ of the match impacted the outcome. They have met twice this season, with each team winning one match. It was the Broncos who prevailed in Penrith 13-12 in the opening game of the season, with the Panthers exacting revenge in Round 12 with a 15-4 victory. Both games were tight contests, with the same expected here. Recent history favours the Panthers, winning 5 out of the past 6 meetings between these two sides; 4 of those matches have been decided by a 1-12 margin.
There is a slight lean towards the Panthers; with both teams evenly matched 1-13, they have a slight edge on the bench. More so, their defensive structure appears capable of negating Walsh and the kicking game of Cleary counters that of Reynolds. Both halfbacks will be required to produce something special in this area and it could come down to extra time or Golden Point for this to happen.
Panthers 1-12 @ $3 – 2 units
$3 (2 Units)
First Try Scorer
The past 3 Grand Finals have seen a centre score first, all wearing jersey number 4. For this game that is Crichton and Farnworth. Players in the outside backs (numbers 2-5) have scored first 8 times since 2011, fullbacks have scored twice with only 2 forward (9 and 12) crossing for the first try. For the season, the Panthers highest scorers have been To’o (21), Crichton (14), Edwards (12) and Tago (10). The Broncos have had Cobbo (20), Mam (15), Farnworth (15) and Staggs (13) lead the way for their team. With the sweeping plays to either edge, combined with a dangerous kicking game from their halves, the outside backs are again a preferred option for each team.
Best = To’o - $8.50 at TAB
Value = Crichton - $12 at Ladbrokes
Best = Arthars - $12 at Neds
Value = Farnworth - $17 at Ladbrokes
Total Match Points
The average total match points in Grand Finals since 2011 is 32.7. In the four times since 2011 when team’s 1st and 2nd have played, the average points margin is 29.3. The history between these two sides in 2023 suggests another low scoring affair. Defence is a cornerstone of their play, and it should ensure a tight contest.
Total Match Points Under 40.5 - $1.90 at Ladbrokes
Just 5 times since 2011 has there been a winning margin of 13+ points, with the average sitting at 11. The average margin in games played between 1st and 2nd in the Grand Final is 8.3 points. It is highly unlikely to see a blowout in this game. There is no need to provide a Suggested Bet, as it will be the same as the selection for the overall match preview.
Clive Churchill Medal Winner
It is no surprise that the winner of the ‘Man of the Match’ usually comes from a player in the spine. Since 2011, halfbacks have saluted 4 times, fullbacks 3 times and 5/8’s winning twice. Interestingly, when not won by a player in the spine, lock (13) is the only other position to win, with the other 3 since 2011 awarded to these players. Considering the subjective nature of this award, it might be worth avoiding. If you do want to invest, no more than 0.5-1 units should be used.
It is no surprise to see Cleary as favourite. While the success of his team doesn’t solely rest on his shoulders, it is essential that he has a high level of quality involvement in his team’s performance. For value, you need not look past Yeo. He is expected to feature for the entire match and, given the Panthers array of attacking options, he will be vital in allowing them to attack towards different areas on the field. Furthermore, his rigid defence will be of benefit to his team.
Best = Cleary - $3.40 at Neds
Value = Yeo - $11 at Neds
Reece Walsh is the favourite Broncos player, and such is his impact in a game, it is hard to argue with. He is prone to mistakes though, whereas Reynolds offers stability. Should the Panthers counter his involvement, Walsh’s brilliance may be what is required to break this game open. For an outsider, Carrigan will likely play the entire match and play a crucial role on both sides of the ball. His star is growing within the game, and you only need to look as far as the 2023 Origin series to see how brightly it was shining.
Best = Reynolds - $8.50 at TAB
Value = Carrigan - $13 at Ladbrokes