The finals are once again in focus this weekend with several sides fighting to keep their season alive.
Things heat up nice and quickly on Thursday night with a 1st v 7th battle between the Storm and the Titans on the Gold Coast, followed by the marquee game of the round, the Panthers and the Rabbitohs, kicking off on Friday from Suncorp.
The Sharks and the Tigers shapes as an intriguing battle on Saturday between two sides looking to book a spot in the eight, while the Roosters are looking to lock up their top four spot on Sunday in Toowoomba against the Dragons.
With plenty left to play for, check out who we’re backing in our Round 23 NRL Preview here!
Gold Coast Titans
Thursday August 19, 7:50pm, CBUS Super Stadium
The Storm have their fingertips on the minor premiership as they look to make it 19 wins in a row on Thursday against the Titans.
Melbourne has also carved out a healthy six-game winning streak over the Gold Coast dating back to 2018, and it is no surprise to find the premiership favourites laying a healthy -20.5 points at the line this week.
Craig Bellamy’s side had its hands full against the Raiders last week in a rollercoaster second half, but like all great sides, the Storm managed to capitalize on some costly Canberra penalties to put the game to bed in the late stages.
The Titans, on the other hand, come into this game looking to bounce-back from a humbling loss to the Rabbitohs.
Three consecutive wins prior sees the Titans still inside the eight, but there’s no doubt this is another tough challenge against a Storm outfit that leads the league in all major scoring categories.
Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook should feel good about the fact Phillip Sami is a chance to return this week, but the fact his side ranks fifth in points conceded is an obvious concern.
Given their recent history and the Titans’ questionable defence, backing the Storm to cover seems the only logical play.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-20.5 Points) @ $1.90
Manly Sea Eagles
Friday August 20, 6:00pm, Suncorp Stadium
There’s still enough time left for the Raiders to make a late finals push, but nothing is a guarantee with one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league.
Canberra faces an enormous challenge this week against a Manly side eying off a top-four spot, followed by a trip to Mackay to face the Warriors and the Roosters in the final two rounds.
Head coach Ricky Stuart has to be encouraged by some aspects of last week’s 10-point loss to the Storm, but there’s no doubt he’ll be taking this week to address his sides ill discipline after allowing Melbourne to kick two late penalty goals.
For Manly, this game is just as important.
The Sea Eagles are only two games adrift from the fourth-placed Rabbitohs after handing the Eels a 56-10 hiding last week following their own loss to Melbourne a week earlier.
Manly already appears to be a serious player come finals time, and they won’t be short on motivation this week after losing to the Raiders back in Round 17.
The line has been set at -6 in favour of Manly, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it gets out even further once we know more about Tom Trbojevic’s status following last week’s knock to the jaw.
If Turbo plays, the Sea Eagles should continue their scoring blitz against a Raiders team that is still struggling to string together two consistent halves of football.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (-6 Points) @ $1.90
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday August 20, 8:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
The battle for second is one of the most interesting races to watch as both the Panthers and Rabbitohs look to secure the double-chance come finals time.
Penrith currently occupies second on for and against, while the bookies also fancy the Panthers despite South Sydney’s growing 10-game winning streak.
The Rabbitohs have looked almost unstoppable over the last month, outscoring their last four opponents 186-54.
South Sydney has played like a well-oiled machine in recent weeks, and they are about to get even stronger with the likes of Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston potentially returning to the side.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are set to welcome Kurt Capewell back from suspension.
Penrith has held five of its last six opponents to under 20 points, so Capewell’s inclusion only serves to strengthen one of the best second rows in the league.
As far as betting goes, there is plenty on offer head-to-head, but the defensive form both teams have shown recently suggests the Under is the safest play.
These two sides did combine for a whopping 68 points when they met in May, but there’s a chance both coaches take a more conservative approach here with so much on the line.
Tip: Under 47.5 Total Points @ $1.90
Saturday August 21, 3:00pm, Browne Park
The Tigers and Sharks both hold top-eight aspirations heading into Saturday’s game between 10th and 13th.
Tied on points, the Sharks surprisingly come into this game as the short-priced favourite despite the fact they’ve lost their last three games in disappointing fashion.
The Tigers, on the other hand, have kept their season alive with two straight wins over the Bulldogs and Cowboys, adding further intrigue to the battle going on at the fringe of the eight.
Wests have won only one game over Cronulla in their last five meetings, but this does feel like a more evenly matched contest than the current market suggests.
The Sharks were dealt a blow last week with Andrew Fifita suffering a serious throat injury, while they’ve also found points hard to come by recently.
Wests forced the Cowboys into 37 missed tackles last week as they got off to a fast start inside the opening 20 minutes.
If the Tigers can pick up where they left off, they’re a good bet to add to their strong 12-9 record at the line this season.
Tip: Back the Tigers to Cover the Line (+4.5 Points) @ $1.90
Saturday August 21, 5:30pm, CBUS Super Stadium
The Knights can further cement their spot inside the eight this week with a fourth consecutive win over wooden spoon favourites Canterbury.
Newcastle has surged into seventh with the likes of Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best back in the fold, and they should have no trouble disposing of the Dogs in similar fashion to their 32-16 win when they met back in March.
The Bulldogs played like they were up for a fight last week against the Warriors before failing to score a single point in the second half – a worrying sign after the Knights held Cronulla to a single penalty goal inside the final 40 minutes.
On the plus side, Canterbury is set to welcome Christian Crichton and Ofahiki Ogden back into the side, while the Knights are set to carry on without Daniel Saifiti for the near future.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Dogs kept this game interesting in the early stages, but the Knights are tough to fade given how important this game is to their finals campaign.
For some added value, it’s worth noting 10 of the last 13 games between these two sides have gone Under the Total, so the double is probably the best bet.
Tip: Back the Knights to Win & Under 52.5 Total Points @ $2.50
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday August 21, 7:35pm, CBUS Super Stadium
A game against the struggling Cowboys couldn’t have come at a better time for Brad Arthur and the Eels.
Parramatta has slid all the way down to sixth on the ladder behind four consecutive losses as they continue to find points hard to come by.
The Eels have mustered no more than 12 points during that four-game span, but they should have no trouble beating up on a Cowboys team that ranks second in points against.
To their credit, the Cowboys did finish strongly in the loss to Wests last week, but it’s tough to get excited about their chances on Saturday with so many stars on the sideline.
The Eels handed North Queensland a 42-4 loss when they met last year, while they’ve also played to a 3-1 record as the home favourite against the Cowboys.
Combined with a 14-7 record at the line this year, this looks the perfect game for the Eels to get some of their mojo back.
Tip: Back the Eels to Cover the Line (-10.5 Points) @ $1.90
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Sunday August 22, 2:00pm, Clive Berghofer Stadium
The Roosters will be hoping for a repeat of their Round 7 blowout over St George on Sunday following last week’s controversial win over the Broncos.
A late penalty goal helped Sydney back inside the top four, but head coach Trent Robinson will be calling for a much more thorough effort this week after his side gave up the lead inside the final 10 minutes.
The Dragons have had their finals hopes dashed thanks to a slew of a recent injuries, but they still stand a chance at making the eight if results go their way.
Unfortunately, the Saints not only have injuries to overcome, but also a three-year hoodoo against the Roosters that includes six consecutive losses.
There could be some reprieve ahead this week with Tariq Sims a chance at returning to the side, while the Roosters are set to regain Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
As far as betting goes, the tri-colours can’t afford the same mistakes and penalties that have nearly cost them in recent weeks, but the fact they’ve covered the line in five of their last six games against St George as the away favourite is tough to ignore.
Following a serious wake-up call last week, the Roosters should respond against another inferior opponent.
Tip: Back the Roosters to Cover the Line (-12.5) & the Roosters Over 29.5 Total Points @ $2.24
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday August 22, 4:05pm, Suncorp Stadium
Three straight wins has the Warriors very much in finals contention, but they’ll need to bring their A-game this week against a Broncos team that has been playing some inspired footy.
Brisbane was unlucky to lose a thriller last Friday night against the Roosters on a controversial penalty decision, but Kevin Walters has to be pleased with the way his side has played against two genuine top-eight sides over the last fortnight.
The recent games between these two sides have been relatively close, so it’s no surprise to find almost even money on offer at time of publish.
Defensively, the Warriors have been very impressive holding their last three opponents to under 20 points, but it’s tough to read too much into wins over the Tigers, Sharks and Bulldogs.
The Broncos, however, seem to have found a spark on attack, and this game is certainly within their grasp if they can manage to find a share of the footy, unlike last week.
Better yet, Brisbane has played to a steady 5-4 record as the home underdog at the line this year, so there’s a bit to like about them with home-field advantage.
With very little separating the head-to-head price from the points spread, it’s worth taking the Broncos with a little insurance.
Tip: Back the Broncos to Cover the Line (+1.5 Points) @ $1.90
The ladder remains a complete question mark with three rounds remaining in the home and away season, setting up what could be a decisive round of action as a handful of teams continue to vie for a spot inside the eight.
It’s another huge Friday night for the Broncos as they host the Rabbitohs from Suncorp. The Sharks also face a big test at home to the Warriors, followed by a crucial top-four battle on Sunday between the Raiders and Sea Eagles from Canberra.
After a successful set of Round 22 tips that saw us tip five winners, we’re confident we’ve found value in this week’s NRL Preview, so be sure to read on below.
Thursday August 22, 7:50pm, Western Sydney Stadium
Parramatta’s 36-12 win over the Titans last week has caused even more confusion on the ladder with three rounds remaining.
Now tied on points with Manly and the Rabbitohs, a win this weekend for the Eels could see them move as high as fourth if results go their way.
Canterbury has nothing left to play for, but the Dogs will be looking to extend their winning streak to four this weekend.
Dean Pay’s side pulled off the biggest upset of Round 22 defeating the Rabbitohs by eight points. It’s been a promising end to the season for the Dogs, although they won’t hold particularly fond memories of their 36-16 loss to the Eels back in Round 2.
It’s no surprise to find the Eels heavily favoured this week at Bankwest Stadium. Parramatta has lost only two of its 10 games at home this year, while the Dogs are currently 4-6 on the road.
The most impressive part of the Eels’ recent four game winning streak has been their relentless attack. Parramatta’s forwards have been dominant during the second half of the season, while wingers Michael Jennings and Maika Sivo continue to torment opposing defences out wide.
With that in mind, the Dogs, who currently rank second in missed tackles, could be in for a long night. The Eels are 5-2 as the line favourite at home this season, and with their last six games against Canterbury also falling Under the Total at home, it’s worth backing a Same Game Multi.
Tip: Back the Eels to Cover the Line (-9.5 Points) and Under 39.5 Total Match Points @ $4.73
North Queensland Cowboys
Friday August 23, 6:00pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
This is officially a do-or-die clash for the Panthers as they head north to face the down and out Cowboys.
Penrith’s 12-point loss to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last week leaves the Panthers sitting ninth on the ladder, but with the Knights, Tigers and Warriors also fighting for a place inside the top eight, Ivan Cleary’s side must ensure they win out from here.
The Cowboys are playing for nothing more than bragging rights as they lick their wounds following last week’s 42-6 blowout loss to the Knights in Newcastle.
North Queensland should survive the wooden spoon from here. But having won only three of their 10 games at home this season, it’s no surprise to find the Cowboys as the outsiders with three games remaining.
The Panthers were able to match the Broncos in the early goings last week, up until Brisbane ran away with the game in the second half. The Cowboys aren’t as dangerous on attack, but it’s worth noting Paul Green’s side does rank fifth in possession.
Fortunately, the Cowboys continue to struggle on attack – now ranking second-last in points scored. North Queensland has averaged just over 19-points per-game at home this season, compared to the Panthers, who are averaging 15 on the road.
Seven of the Panthers’ last seven away games have gone Under the Total, so back this one to be another low-scoring game.
Tip: Under 38.5 Total Match Points @ $1.88
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday August 23, 7:55pm, Suncorp Stadium
South Sydney hits the road to face the Broncos at Suncorp – a venue the Bunnies haven’t won at since 2015.
The Rabbitohs were a punter’s worst nightmare last week falling by eight points to the Dogs – a loss that leaves South Sydney sitting just outside the top four.
Things aren’t about to get any easier this week as Wayne Bennett heads back to his old stomping ground. The former club legend made short work of Brisbane back in Round 8, but with their season still on the line, nothing will come easy against the Broncos away from home.
Brisbane held on for a much-needed victory over the Panthers last week, one inspired by Jamayne Isaako and Payne Haas. The Broncos made short work of Penrith’s sloppy defence, and also kept their own penalties and errors to a minimum.
Anthony Seibold will be hoping his side can extend their winning streak to three this week by dominating possession – much like the Bulldogs did last week against Souths.
As for the Rabbitohs, they’ll be hoping to put their horror 2-5 record on the back of a loss behind them. Souths failed to score a try against Canterbury, but if they can hit the front early against Brisbane, the Bunnies should be able to control momentum and improve on their strong 6-4 record away from home.
The Broncos find themselves as the underdog this week at home, a scenario they are 1-3 in against the Rabbitohs. Souths, meanwhile, are 14-7 as the favourite over the last calendar year.
It’s difficult to see the Bunnies winning by much, but after a dominant win back in Round 8 was headlined by Cody Walker’s pair of tries, it’s worth backing Souths to turn things around.
Tip: Back the Rabbitohs to Win @ $1.80
New Zealand Warriors
Saturday August 23, 3:00pm, Shark Park
There should be no shortage of entertainment on Saturday afternoon as both the Sharks and Warriors still look to secure their spot in the finals.
Cronulla is back in the eight for now, although it took the Sharks the full 80-minutes to dispose of the helpless Dragons last week.
As for the Warriors, the Kiwis find themselves slipping down the ladder following last week’s 36-point drubbing at the hands of the Roosters. That said, New Zealand is still within striking distance of the eight sitting just three points behind the ninth-place Panthers.
These two sides met only recently back in Wellington, and if Round 18’s game is anything to go by, we should be in for a real thriller on Saturday.
The Warriors held on for a 19-18 victory over the Sharks at home, snapping their previous four-game losing streak to Cronulla. Kodi Nikormima played the hero for the Kiwis, but unfortunately, New Zealand has some real work to do if they hope to earn their first win at Shark Park since 2015.
Cronulla has been installed as the heavy favourite this week at home, where they currently hold a convincing 7-3 record. Backing the Under at Shark Park has been profitable this year, while the Sharks’ 7-2 record as the home favourite also looks good value.
Tip: Back the Sharks to Win and Under 38.5 Total Match Points @ $2.75
Saturday August 23, 5:30pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Neither side is making a very compelling case as to why they belong in the finals, but if results go their way, the Knights or the Tigers could wind up back inside the eight.
Wests failed to show up for a fight at Brookvale losing by 20-points to Manly last week. The Tigers have now lost three of their last five games, but they’ll take plenty of confidence heading into Round 23 knowing they’ve won two straight over Newcastle.
The Knights pulled off a big win over the struggling Cowboys at home last week to keep their finals hopes alive. Newcastle dominated the scoring early as Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga both crossed the line twice, securing a much-needed victory that has also earned the Knights a spot as the favourite.
Neither coach will read too much into their Round 19 meeting, but the Knights will have revenge on their mind after falling 28-26 at home. The good news is Newcastle won the possession battle against the Tigers, while the loss of Robbie Farah also leaves the defence with one less star player to worry about.
The Knights have never opened as the away favourite against the Tigers, which makes this week’s price strong value. Wests are 1-2 as the home underdog over the last 12 months, and with their season fading quick due to injuries, it’s difficult to see the Tigers holding off Kalyn Ponga and company.
Tip: Back the Knights to Win @ $1.80
St George-Illawarra Dragons
Saturday August 23, 7:35pm, Jubilee Stadium
There might only be three games remaining, but that’s still enough time for the Roosters to catch up with the Storm on top of the ladder.
Sydney’s blowout 42-6 win over the Warriors last week leaves the Chooks looking dangerous with finals around the corner. Trent Robinson’s side now prepares for what should be a very comfortable victory over the Dragons on Saturday night, one that could also extend the gap between themselves and the third-place Raiders.
The Dragons failed to fire last week at Shark Park, going down to Cronulla 18-12. The end of the season can’t come quick enough for St. George, while the Dragons won’t hold particularly fond memories of their recent meetings with the Roosters.
Sydney has won four of its last five games against Paul McGregor’s Dragons, including a 20-10 win back in Round 7. Not surprisingly, the Roosters are firm favourites this week in the market as they now look to earn their sixth win on the trot.
St. George’s biggest problem this season has been a complete lack of the ball. The Dragons rank second-last in possession this year, which lends itself to ranking first in tackles made.
None of that bodes well against the Roosters, especially considering the Chooks are 3-1 as the away favourite against the Dragons.
You’ll have to get creative if you want to find some real value, but at their current price, the Roosters to win by 13+ looks an absolute steal.
Tip: Back the Roosters 13+ @ $1.90
Gold Coast Titans
Sunday August 24, 2:00pm, AAMI Park
Anything is possible, but it’s very difficult to see the Storm losing two straight games at home.
Last week’s shock loss to the Raiders leaves the ladder leaders looking a little vulnerable heading into the finals, as Melbourne somehow blew a 12-4 lead at halftime to go on and lose by four points.
With the Titans up next though, the Storm should have no trouble bouncing back. For those keeping count at home, the Storm are a perfect 3-0 on the back of a previous loss this season, while the Gold Coast has now lost eight straight games.
Melbourne made short work of the Titans back in Round 18 winning 38-18. The Storm have now won three straight over the Gold Coast, and since Melbourne never loses back-to-back games, this one really isn’t worth overcomplicating.
Tip: Back the Storm to Cover the Line (-20.5 Points) @ $1.90
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday August 24, 4:05pm, GIO Stadium
The NRL has done a great job of saving the best for last this season, and Sunday’s matinee game between third and fourth place should be no exception.
Canberra’s stunning win over the Storm last week leaves them in firm control of their own destiny with three rounds remaining.
Although it’s a longshot, a win this week and a Roosters loss could see Canberra up to second on the ladder. For the time being though, the Green Machine will be focused on distancing themselves from Manly with a home final up for grabs.
The Sea Eagles dusted off the Tigers at Brookvale last week winning 32-12. Jack Gosiewski played the hero for Manly, and the Sea Eagles will be hoping for more of the same as they look to earn their first win in Canberra since 2017.
The Raiders are locked in for a finals spot, but they’ll have revenge on their mind this week. Canberra lost 24-20 against Manly back in Round 7, a game Jack Wighton dominated with a pair of tries.
Our bookmakers have sided with the Green Machine this week as they search for their 15th win of the season. The Raiders are 6-4 at home on the year, while the Sea Eagles are just 5-5 on the road.
There’s no doubt Manly can keep this game close, as they have done all season. The Sea Eagles have been the best side to back at the line, covering in 15 of their 21 games.
With an equally impressive 5-3 record as the line underdog on the road this year, it’s worth backing Manly to Cover.
Tip: Back Manly to Cover the Line (+4.5 Points) @ $1.90
There are now only three weeks left in the NRL regular season and the battle for position inside the top eight is as competitive as ever.
There are only four competition points between the Sydney Roosters in 1st and the New Zealand Warriors in 7th, which makes the shootout for a place in the top four extremely competitive.
A host of teams face close to must-win situations this weekend and our complete 2018 NRL Round 23 tips can be found below.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday 16 August, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium
We know the Rabbitohs are playing finals, but what do we make of the Broncos now?
Last week’s loss against the Cowboys was stunning for Wayne Bennett’s side not only because they lost, but because they failed to make the most of so many golden opportunities.
Brisbane were on the back foot from the get-go as Gideon Gela-Mosby punished the visitors in the eighth minute.
Brisbane’s defence was particularly weak in the first half, evident in their 31 missed tackles come the final whistle, but they did well to fight back and trail by only two-points at half time.
The loss sees the Broncos still in the eight, but plenty of doubt now surrounds the rugby league powerhouse with just three weeks to go.
Souths, on the other hand, well they were just unlucky.
The Bunnies met their match against the Roosters on Saturday night, but they hardly played poorly.
Anthony Seibold’s team threw the kitchen sink at the ladder leaders on the weekend, and still looked just as dangerous on attack as they had against the Storm the week prior.
What we’re now left with is a potential do-or-die scenario for Brisbane, and a must-win game for the Rabbitohs if they wish to secure a home final berth.
With just two points separating the eighth placed Broncos and the ninth placed Tigers, Brisbane could very well find themselves out of the eight this week.
A loss for the Rabbitohs, meanwhile, could see Souths drop down to fourth on the ladder.
It’s rare to see the Broncos enter a home game as the underdog, but after last week’s disappointment, it appears the bookies aren’t convinced in a Brisbane comeback.
The Broncos are 2-1 as the home underdog this year, while the Bunnies are 4-3 as the away favourite.
Much of this game will come down to the Andrew McCullough and Damien Cook battle, but overall, Brisbane’s leaders really need to step up, especially here at Suncorp, a ground the Rabbitohs have struggled to find success at.
With the Tigers hot on their heels, this is it for the Broncos. They won’t want to face the Roosters next week on the back of a third straight loss.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60537304" no="1"]
Tip: Back the Broncos 1-12 @ $3.60
Same Game Multi: Broncos To Win, Dane Gagai To Score, James Roberts To Score
Manly Sea Eagles
Gold Coast Titans
Friday 17 August, 6.00pm, Brookvale Oval
The Tom Trbojevic tank engine steamed ahead last week for the Sea Eagles, scoring two tries during Manly’s 12-point win over the Bulldogs.
Things were a little closer for the Titans, falling by just one-point to the Panthers in excruciating golden point fashion.
With all eyes on the top of the ladder, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the importance of this game, but the wooden spoon battle has become intriguing as of late.
Both of these teams hold 7-14 records, and with Manly and Gold Coast tied on 16 points apiece, this game could see either side move as high as 10th on the ladder.
Manly have won three of their last five encounters against the Titans, and enter as the heavy favourites at home this week.
The Titans are a woeful 3-9 as the away underdog over the last 12 months, and after last weeks dismal defensive display in the final minutes, it’s pretty hard to trust Garth Brennan’s side on the road.
The Sea Eagles have now won two straight, and with Trbojevic still showing strong post Origin form, you have to side with Manly.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60629158" no="2"]
Tip: Back Manly To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points) @ $1.92
Same Game Multi: Manly To Win 1-12, Jorge Taufua To Score, First Try Converted
Friday 17 August, 7.55pm, AAMI Park
This shapes up as a game for the Storm to get their season back on track, but after the Eels pummeled the Dragons by 36-points last week, who knows what’s in store.
Melbourne didn’t do a whole lot wrong last week against the Sharks.
Their star-studded line up produced plenty of attack, including some brilliant Josh Addo-Carr runs, but the Storm’s inability to keep Cronulla inside their own half meant the difference between winning and losing.
The Eels, well there’s no telling what this Parramatta side is capable of in the not too distant future.
If Jarryd Hayne keeps this up, the Eels might just pinch a couple more wins before seasons end, a particularly scary thought for the rest of the bottom half of the ladder.
But of course, can the Eels really pull this off on the road against the Storm?
It’s doable, but Parra will have to replicate what they did so well last week – control possession.
The Sharks showed that when they complete sets and force the Storm into plenty of dropouts, Melbourne’s usually fluid tempo suffers.
Before we get too carried away however, it’s worth remembering just how poor the Eels have been in away games this year.
Parramatta are yet to win a game on the road, suffering 10 losses on the season.
To make matters worse, the Eels are also 0-4 as the away underdog vs. the Storm.
This one shapes up as a chance for Melbourne to regain their confidence, and with a chance to reclaim top spot on the ladder, they should do just that.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60539585" no="3"]
Tip: Back Melbourne Storm 13+ @ $1.90
Same Game Multi: Storm 13+, Josh Addo-Carr to Score 2 Or More Tries, Under 42.5 Total Match Points
Saturday 18 August, 3.00pm, Panthers Stadium
The Cameron Ciraldo era got off to a rocky start for the Panthers last week, but Penrith still managed to walk away with a narrow one-point win over the Titans.
Lady luck certainly didn’t favour Newcastle though, as the Knights fell by 16-points to the Warriors in New Zealand.
There’s nothing but bragging rights on the line for the Knights in this one, but the Panthers have plenty to play for.
Penrith not only needs to prove to their supporters that they just might be the real deal come finals, they also need to beat Newcastle comfortably with two remaining games against the Warriors and Storm ahead.
Fortunately for the newly appointed Ciraldo, the Panthers have won five straight over the Knights dating back to 2015.
None of those games have been close, and with Newcastle missing 45 tackles against the Warriors last week, it’s doubtful this one will be either.
Penrith are 5-3 as the home favourite this season, while the Knights are 4-7 as the away underdog.
James Maloney’s knee injury is a killer blow to the Panthers, but Nathan Cleary’s game-winning extra point dropkick showed he is the man to fill the void.
If Cleary can show the same leadership qualities this week, the Panthers should have no trouble trouncing the Knights.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60540890" no="4"]
Tip: Back Penrith To Win 1-12 @ $3.00
Same Game Multi: Panthers To Win 1-12, Josh Mansour First Try Scorer, Waqa Blake Anytime Try Scorer
St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday 18 August, 5.30pm, Leichhardt Oval
Yep you guessed it, this game holds plenty of ladder implications as well.
The Tigers know they have to win out from here, and last week’s two-point win over the Raiders down in Canberra certainly helped.
Esan Marsters was electric in that game helping out on both sides of the ball, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for Dragons captain Ben Hunt.
St. George slumped to another loss against the Eels last week, making it four from their last five.
Hunt has been particularly disappointing post Origin, failing to put the team on his back by generating scoring chances.
Hunt’s lack of leadership has cost the Dragons. St. George were the premiership favourites at one stage, but one more loss this week could see them slip all the way down to eight.
Coach Paul McGregor is trying desperately to roll with the punches, but a potential knockout blow could come this week at Leichardt Oval.
Tigers fans will likely show up in full force, and if they can control the momentum at home, Wests are every chance to not only upset the Dragons, but possibly inch their way closer to the eight.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60541667" no="5"]
Tip: Back Wests Tigers To Beat The Line (-1.5 Points) @ $1.92
Same Game Multi: Tigers To Beat The Line, Kevin Naiqama To Score, Dragons To Win First Half
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 18 August, 7.35pm, Southern Cross Group Stadium
A trip to Melbourne to face the Storm was always a daunting task for the Sharks, especially on the back of a loss to Manly the week prior.
But full credit to Cronulla, they took it to the Storm for 80-minutes, and weathered an onslaught of attack during the second half.
The same can also be said for the Cowboys, who recorded a gutsy win over the Broncos in the derby.
Both sides are high on confidence right now, which sets us up for a potential Saturday evening blockbuster in Sydney.
Much of Cronulla’s success last week can be accredited to Paul Gallen. The veteran workhorse laid some huge tackles on several of Melbourne’s playmakers, and also helped out on attack with some big runs.
The Cowboys will enter this game without Jason Taumalolo, which of course favours the same kind of scintillating play Gallen and the rest of the Sharks’ stars are capable of.
Cronulla’s last home game resulted in bitter defeat, but with Top 4 still a possibility, you have to back the hosts this week.
The Sharks have won three of their last five against the Cowboys, and if they can rely on that same steely defensive nerve they showed last week, Cronulla should be no match for the wooden spoon favourites.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60629706" no="6"]
Tip: Back Cronulla Sharks 1-12 @ $2.88
Same Game Multi: Sharks 1-12, Paul Gallen To Score, Sharks To Win Both Halves
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 19 August, 2.00pm, ANZ Stadium
Don’t look now, but the Warriors actually won a game at home.
Also, New Zealand are now staring at three wins on the trot should they defeat the Bulldogs on Sunday, a milestone that should come easy for the visitors given their success on the road this season.
The Warriors were dominant last week against the Knights, controlling possession and also feeding Roger Tuivasa-Sheck plenty of the ball.
That in turn led to plenty of try-scoring opportunities for David Fusitu’a, which should worry the Dogs this week.
Canterbury were particularly flat last week against Manly as they committed 13 errors in the 18-6 defeat.
The Dogs are already looking ahead to next season, but if they wish to avoid the wooden spoon, they’ll need to show up ready to play at home this week.
As we have seen in the past though, the Bulldogs are capable of upsetting Top 8 teams on their day.
Points have come at a premium at times this season, but let’s not forget the Dogs did beat the Tigers and the Broncos in successive games just three weeks ago.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60543641" no="7"]
Tip: Back the Bulldogs To Win @ $2.50
Same Game Multi: Bulldogs To Win, Solomone Kata To Win, Highest Scoring Half: 1st Half
Sunday 19 August, 4.10pm, GIO Stadium
Is the minor premiership a sure-thing for Sydney?
There’s still a ways to go, but the Roosters looked the goods last week against South Sydney.
James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk were monumental for the Chooks last week, but was so was Latrell Mitchell slotting all five of his set shots.
The Roosters defence also held strong against the Rabbitohs, silencing anyone that doubted Sydney’s ability to shutdown the leagues top attacking sides.
The Raiders are no easy-beats, but the Roosters’ defence will now receive another test this week.
Canberra’s attack can be lethal at times, and although the Green Machine are out of the finals race, they’ll fancy themselves to wind down their season on a high note.
Canberra has won their last two encounters against Sydney, but the Raiders are yet to face the Roosters this season.
As we know, the tri-colours are a different team this season, and with a 6-2 record as the away favourite, you can’t back against Trent Robinson’s side.
There’s still plenty to prove for the Roosters over the next few weeks. If they can show the same kind of ferocity on attack and continue to burst through tackles like they did last week, Sydney will put the entire league on notice.
Better yet, a dominant win in Canberra, a ground the Roosters have won on since 2010, will mean a great deal to the Roosters’ confidence.
[matchmodule matchid=" 60544951" no="8"]
Tip: Back the Roosters 1-12 @ $3.10
Same Game Multi: Roosters 1-12, Jordan Rapana First Try Scorer, Roosters To Win Second Halve
There is now only a month left of the NRL regular season and there is nothing between a number of the leading contenders.
Melbourne Storm are the clear standout and remain premiership favourites, but this past weekend showed that any of the seven other sides in the top eight are all capable of playing in the Grand Final.
Just about every game in the NRL this weekend will have some form of finals relevance and there are a host of excellent betting opportunities, so don’t miss out on our complete 2017 NRL Round 23 tips below.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Thursday 10 August, 7.50pm, ANZ Stadium
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 - Canterbury Bulldogs 14
This is the only game in the NRL this weekend that does not have any bearing on the outcome on the top eight and neither team have a great deal to play for.
South Sydney ended their losing streak with a thrilling win over the St George Illawarra Dragons and they will start this clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs as favourites.
The Rabbitohs have proven a very difficult side to trust as favourites this season – they have won only four of their past nine games as the punter’s elect – and winning back-to-back games has proven to be an issue.
Canterbury produced another flat performance against the Parramatta Eels and the future of coach Des Hasler is hanging in the balance.
The Bulldogs have won only five of their past 19 games as underdogs and they really haven’t looked like winning a game in recent weeks.
These are two teams that really are impossible to trust from a betting perspective and this is a clash that I am more than happy to stay out of.
[matchmodule matchid=" 28252189" no="1"]
Friday 11 August, 6.00pm, ANZ Stadium
Parramatta Eels 10 - Newcastle Knights 29
The Parramatta Eels have won six games on the trot and they now have a genuine case of finishing the season in the top four.
Parramatta are the shortest-priced favourites in the NRL this weekend and they really should prove too strong for the Newcastle Knights.
The Eels have won five of their past six games as home favourites for a clear profit and they are 3-1-2 against the line in this scenario.
Newcastle recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 when they beat the New Zealand Warriors last weekend, but this is obviously a much tougher assignment.
The Knights have not won away from home since 2015, but they are 6-5 against the line in this scenario.
The one betting market that really does standout in this clash is the Under in Total Points betting markets.
Backing the Under has been a profitable playing in games involving either of these teams all season long and really does look likely here as the Eels rarely put their rivals to the sword.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36430017" no="2"]
Back Under 40.5 Points
Friday 11 August, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 32 - Cronulla Sharks 10
This is one of the games of the weekend and the winner will really solidify their position in the top four.
The Brisbane Broncos returned to winning form with an emphatic 54-0 win over the Gold Coast Titans and they will go into this clash as clear favourites.
Brisbane have won 11 of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear profit and they are now 7-5 against the line in this scenario.
The Cronulla Sharks produced a flat effort against the Canberra Raiders last weekend and they have suffered back-to-back losses on only two occasions in the past 12 months.
Cronulla’s record away from home has been nothing short of outstanding this season – they have won seven of their past eight games in this scenario for a massive profit.
There really is not as much between these two teams as the current betting market suggests and Cronulla are a great bet to cover the line with a start of 6.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36430068" no="3"]
Back Cronulla To Beat The Line (+6.5 Points)
St George Dragons
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 12 August, 3.00pm, Jubilee Oval
St George Illawarra Dragons 42 - Gold Coast Titans 16
The St George Illawarra Dragons will start this game as favourites and this really is a must-win game for the struggling outfit.
St George Illawarra slipped outside the top eight following their shocking loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs and they really can’t afford to drop any more games.
The Dragons have won six of their past seven games as home favourites for a clear profit, but they are only 2-5 against the line in this scenario.
The Gold Coast Titans produced one of the worst performances in their history when they were flogged by the Brisbane Broncos last weekend and they surely can’t play that poorly again.
Gold Coast have won only two of their past nine games as away underdogs for a loss and they are 4-5 against the line in this scenario.
The only betting play that stands out in this clash is the Over in Total Points betting markets.
The Over has saluted in nine of the past 12 home games played by the Dragons and has also been a profitable betting play in matches involving the Titans.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36431229" no="4"]
Back Over 43.5 Points
Saturday 12 August, 5.30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Storm 16 - Sydney Roosters 13
The Melbourne Storm are four points clear of the Sydney Roosters and a win would all but secure the Storm the minor premiership.
Melbourne produced another professional performance to account for the North Queensland Cowboys last Friday night and it is no surprise that they will start this clash as clear favourites.
The Storm have won nine of their past 13 games as home favourites for a narrow profit, but they are a poor 5-8 against the line in this scenario.
Sydney started their clash with the Manly Sea Eagles in excellent fashion and looked set to cruise to victory, but they completely fell apart in the second half to suffer a very poor loss.
The Roosters have not won a single game as away underdogs this season and they are 2-3 against the line in this scenario.
This is a clash that the market looks to have got just about right and I am more than happy to stay out of this clash from a betting perspective.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36444171" no="5"]
North Queensland Cowboys
Saturday 12 August, 7.30pm, Pepper Stadium
Penrith Panthers 24 - North Queensland Cowboys 16
The Penrith Panthers now find themselves in the top eight and will start this clash with the North Queensland Cowboys as clear favourites.
Penrith have won five games on the trot and their record at Pepper Stadium this season has been nothing short of outstanding.
The Panthers have won ten of their past 12 games as home favourites for a profit and their record against the line in this scenario is just as good.
North Queensland were no match for Melbourne last weekend and they go into this clash with a number of injury concerns.
The Cowboys have won three of their past eight games as away underdogs for a small loss, but they are 6-2 against the line in this scenario and they have won seven of their past eight games against the Panthers including a narrow win over their rivals less than two months ago.
There really is not as much between these two teams as the current betting market suggests and another close game looks likely, which means that the Cowboys are a great bet to cover the line with a start of 6.5 points.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36447523" no="6"]
Back North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (+6.5 Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Sunday 13 August, 2.00pm, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand Warriors 16 - Canberra Raiders 36
The New Zealand Warriors have the home-ground advantage, but it is the Canberra Raiders that will start this clash as clear favourites.
Canberra kept themselves in finals contention with a big win over the Cronulla Sharks and this is another game that they really should win.
The Raiders have won four of their past seven games as away favourites and they have the same record against the line in this scenario.
New Zealand were unable to beat the Newcastle Knights last weekend and they really do look unlikely to win another game this season.
The Warriors have been very flat without Shaun Johnson in the side and they really do look like a side that already has one eye on 2018.
This is a game that Canberra should win comfortably and the line of 6.5 points really does not look like anywhere near enough.
[matchmodule matchid=" 36431440" no="7"]
Back Canberra To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Manly Sea Eagles
Sunday 13 August, 4.00pm, Leichhardt Oval
Wests Tigers 30 - Manly Sea Eagles 26
The Manly Sea Eagles ended their losing streak with an upset win over the Sydney Roosters and they will start this clash with the Wests Tigers as clear favourites.
Manly were nothing short of sensational in the second-half against the Roosters and a repeat of that performance would make them far too good for the Tigers,
The Sea Eagles have been excellent away from home this season and they beat the Tigers comfortably just over a month ago.
Wests were no match for the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon and this represents another tough challenge.
The Tigers have won only one of their past ten games as home underdogs and they are a very poor 2-8 against the line in this scenario.
This is a game that Manly really should win comfortably and the line of 7.5 points will not be enough.
[matchmodule matchid="36443442" no="8"]
Back Manly To Beat The Line (-7.5 Points)
There are plenty of big games in round 23 of the 2016 NRL season as we continue the build towards the finals.
The Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys are both expected to be premiership contenders this season and they will do battle in one of the games of the round, while the Cronulla Sharks and St George Illawarra Dragons will face off in The Battle Of The Shire.
The Brisbane Broncos return to Brisbane for an interesting clash with the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs take on the Manly Sea Eagles in an all-Sydney clash.
Manly Sea Eagles
Thursday 12 August, 7.50pm, ANZ Stadium
Canterbury Bulldogs 20 - Manly Sea Eagles 16
The Canterbury Bulldogs have bounced back from their disastrous loss to the North Queensland Cowboys and will go into this clash clash as favourites following two straight victories.
The Cowboys loss is the only defeat that Canterbury have suffered in the past two months and they have won eight of their ten games as home favourites, but are only 3-7 against the line in this scenario.
Manly have their winning streak ended at the hands of Parramatta last weekend and they really need to win this game to keep alive their finals chances.
The Sea Eagles have actually performed fairly well away from home this season and they have won two of their six games as away underdogs, while they are 4-2 against the line in this situation.
I expect this to be a very even, low-scoring clash and I am keen to back Manly against the line with a start of 6.5 points.
Recommended Bet: Back Manly To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Friday 12 August, 7.50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Broncos 38 - Parramatta Eels 16
The Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels both returned to winning form last weekend and this will be an intriguing clash.
It was far from pretty, but the Broncos came away with the four points from their clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend and they will start this clash as clear favourites.
This is a position that the Broncos have struggled in in recent weeks and they have won just eight of their past 13 games as home favourites, while they are 6-7 against the line.
Parramatta ended their lengthy losing streak with a hard-fought victory over Manly last Friday night and they are sure to take plenty of confidence from that performance.
The Eels have proven to be a profitable betting play as away underdogs this season – they are 2-5 in head to head betting and 4-3 against the line.
Brisbane should be able to win this game, but the line of 12.5 does seem excessive and I am very keen on the Parramatta Eels at the line.
[matchmodule matchid="22379891" no="2"]
Recommended Bet: Back Parramatta To Beat The Line (+12.5 Points)
Gold Coast Titans
Saturday 13 August, 3.00pm, Campbelltown Stadium
Wests Tigers 18 - Gold Coast Titans 19
Both the Wests Tigers and Gold Coast Titans have found impressive form in the past month and this is a genuine Saturday afternoon blockbuster.
The NRL return of Jarryd Hayne may have drawn a big crowd and big TV ratings, but he was unable to help the Titans to a victory and they need to win this clash to climb back into the top eight.
The Titans have proven to be a profitable betting play away from home this season and they have won six of their past 16 games on the road, while they are 11-5 against the line.
The Wests Tigers produced arguably their best performance for a number of seasons to shock the North Queensland Cowboys and they have now win on the trot.
They are a young side that is playing with a level of confidence that has not been seen for a number of seasons and are now genuine top eight contenders.
The Tigers have won two of their past three games at Campbelltown Stadium, but in recent seasons they have generally under performed expectations at the historic home of the Magpies.
There is no doubt that Hayne would have taken plenty of benefit from his NRL return and he can help the Titans to a crucial victory.
[matchmodule matchid="22380251" no="3"]
Recommended Bet: Back The Gold Coast Titans To Win @ $1.92
New Zealand Warriors
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Saturday 13 August, 5.30pm, Mt Smart Stadium
New Zealand Warriors 22 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 41
The New Zealand Warriors have moved into the top eight and they are clear favourites to beat South Sydney this weekend.
The Warriors produced a classy overall performance to beat the Gold Coast last weekend and they will enhance their chances of playing finals football with another win this weekend.
New Zealand have been a tough team to trust as favourites this season – they have won four of their six games in this scenario and are a very poor 1-5 against the line.
South Sydney produced their best performance in sometime against the Melbourne Storm last weekend, but they were still unable to come away with the two points.
The Rabbitohs can’t wait for this season to end and their betting record this season is incredibly poor.
They have won just one of their past seven games as away underdogs and they are 3-4 against the line.
The market looks to have got this game just about right and I am happy to stay out of this fixture from a betting perspective.
[matchmodule matchid="22380459" no="4"]
Recommended Bet: No Bet
St George Dragons
Saturday 13 August, 7.30pm, Jubilee Oval
St George Illawarra Dragons 32 - Cronulla Sharks 18
Their is no love lost between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Cronulla Sharks and this is always a tense affair.
The Cronulla Sharks had their unbeaten run ended by the Canberra Raiders last weekend, but they will still start this game as clear favourites and it is easy to see why.
Cronulla beat the Dragons 30-2 when they met earlier this season and they have won six of their past seven games as away favourites, while they are 5-2 against the line.
St George were far from disgraced against the Brisbane Broncos last weekend and they will be buoyed by the return of Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell.
The Dragons have not been far away in recent weeks and their record in front of their home fans is not bad – they are 4-4 in both head-to-head betting and against the line.
The Dragons will be in this for a long way, but class will prevail in the end and the Sharks will bounce back from their defeat in emphatic fashion.
[matchmodule matchid="22380986" no="5"]
Recommended Bet: Back Cronulla Sharks To Beat The Line (-11.5 Points)
Sunday 14 August, 2.00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Knights 6 - Penrith Panthers 42
The Penrith Panthers were nothing short of outstanding against the Sydney Roosters last weekend and they have an excellent opportunity to make it two wins on the trot.
The Panthers dominated from the outset against the Roosters – led by young halfback Nathan Cleary – and a similar performance would be enough to see out the Newcastle Knights this weekend.
The problem for punters is that the Panthers have been very tough to trust as favourites this season – they are just 2-2 as away favourites and are 3-8 on the back of a victory.
Newcastle are quickly running out of time to record their second win of the NRL season and it is tough to see that changing this weekend.
The Knights have won just one of their past ten games as home underdogs although they are a credible 5-5 against the line.
This is another game that the betting market looks to have got just about right and I am happy to ignore it from a betting standpoint.
[matchmodule matchid="22381104" no="6"]
Recommended Bet: No Bet
North Queensland Cowboys
Sunday 14 August, 4.00pm, Allianz Stadium
Sydney Roosters 22 - North Queensland Cowboys 10
The North Queensland Cowboys suffered a shock loss to the Wests Tigers last weekend and they face a potentially trick assignment against the Roosters this weekend.
The Cowboys produced their worst performance of the season and were extremely flat, but they will still start this clash as clear favourites.
North Queensland have not been a particularly strong betting play as away favourites this season and are 5-4 both in head-to-head betting and against the line.
The Roosters were unable to build on their upset win over the Brisbane Broncos and they were comprehensively outplayed by the Penrith Panthers last weekend.
Sydney have really struggled in front of their home fans this season and they have won just one of their past seven games as home favourites, while they are 2-1-4 against the line.
The Cowboys haven’t lost three games in a row since the start of last season and I expect the defending premiers to return to winning form.
[matchmodule matchid="22381234" no="7"]
Recommended Bet: Back The North Queensland Cowboys To Beat The Line (-6 Points)
Monday 15 August, 7.00pm, GIO Stadium
Geelong 103 - Western Bulldogs 78
This is the game of the weekend and it could prove to be a finals preview.
Both the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm have won six games on the trot, but it is Melbourne that will go into this clash as clear favourites.
The Storm were not at their best against South Sydney last weekend, but they still got the job done and they have won their past seven games as away favourites, while they are 5-2 against the line.
Canberra stamped themselves as genuine premiership contenders with a convincing victory over the Cronulla Sharks.
The Raiders have won nine of their past 12 games at GIO Stadium, but they have lost both their games as away underdogs in this situation and have lost three of their past four against the Storm.
Melbourne are always one of the safest betting teams in the NRL and they will get the job done on Monday night.
[matchmodule matchid="22381427" no="8"]
Recommended Bet: Back Melbourne Storm To Win @ $1.75