NRL ROUND 23
Broncos v Eels
It wasn’t pretty but the Broncos ended their losing streak with a closely fought victory over the Dragons last Thursday and I’m leaning towards that being the spark for a big run to the finals. Not wanting to sound too much like a broken record but the Broncos are simply too choc-full of experienced and quality players (and coached by the best of the best) to not turn this slump of theirs around as the cream generally rises to the top especially at this stage of the season. In contrast to the Broncos season gearing up the Eels long and troubled (off-field) season is winding down and whilst they are coming off a win (with all-due respect it was against the Sea Eagles and at Pirtek Stadium) this week promises to be a much tougher proposition.
There’s a gulf between these sides in the halves with the Eels pairing being more of a short-term makeshift option which is in contrast to the Broncos pair of Hunt-Milford who have been together for two seasons now and are the next generation of superstars. Led brilliantly by Beau Scott the Eels forward pack has been a force to be reckoned with but I suspect in his absence they’ll lack sting to their tail and won’t respond too well when the Broncos get in their face.
With big losses to the Storm and Panthers in their last two home games the Broncos seriously owe it to their fans to put in a dazzling display here and that’s exactly what I can see them delivering. Pick – 2 units on Broncos -12.5 or better point start and 1 unit on Broncos to win by 21 – 30 points
Tigers v Titans
These sides have several things in common in that they’ve both exceeded expectations in 2016 and they’re both choc-full of exciting young talent who are getting the better of opposition defences.
This match has huge importance to both sides’ finals hopes and it promises to be a cracker, neither side has particularly turned heads with their defence but they certainly have on attack which is a good recipe for points, especially when you throw the Hayne-Train into the mix.
Short and sweet here, the forecast is for a dry track and I can see both sides exchanging try for try in what should be a high-scoring nail-biter. Pick – 4 units on total combined points ‘over’ 44.5
Warriors v Rabbitohs
The Warriors have looked a completely different side of late to that which played the first half of the season seemingly in 2nd gear, their victory over the Titans was full of effort and the challenge for the rest of the season will be to consistently lift to those same levels each week. Their opposition here are at the tail-end of an underwhelming season given the side they have but for the first time in a while showed plenty of life last week against the Storm in very nearly pulling off one of the upsets of the season which is an indication they’re not about to roll over meekly for their final few games.
When they’re underdogs, as they were going into the Titans match on Sunday, the Warriors have often lifted a gear but it’s when they’re expected to win that the wheels have fallen off and this match fits that bill with the Rabbitohs being written off by the bookies who are giving them a decent start. That big start looks good here as some of the Rabbitohs key players such as Inglis, Reynolds, Johnston and most of the forward pack looked against the Storm like they’d regained some lost confidence and we all know what a classy outfit they can be.
The loss of Luke didn’t seem to bother the Warriors too much last weekend but if the Rabbitohs forwards muscle up hard on defence then I’m sure his work around the ruck will be sorely missed here which will filter through to the rest of their attack.
Playing with their season on the line is familiar territory for the Warriors and one they’ve become accustomed to blowing over recent years and this match has all the makings of another missed opportunity. Pick -2 units on Rabbitohs +8.5 point start and 1 unit on Rabbitohs to win
Dragons v Sharks
The Dragons get three big ‘ins’ for this clash with Dugan, Thompson and Frizell all returning to bolster the side which ran the Broncos very close last week and given the Raiders exposed quite a few kinks in the Sharks armour now could be a good time to be playing the competition leaders.
Things are getting pretty desperate for Marshall as his future in the NRL is yet to be determined; he’s essentially the master of his own destiny though as a very strong end to the season could spark some interest from the Dragons and rival clubs but he really does have to make a splash starting here.
The Dragons defence has been solid this season but they’ve been let down with their attack as tries have been few and far between but Dugan’s inclusion here could spark things and Frizell/Thompson will add plenty of grit to an already strong looking forward pack.
Despite having their season all but ended by the Broncos last week there’s still a lot for the Dragons to play for and they’ve got a strong enough side to challenge here, whether it’s enough for the win will remain to be seen but the start on offer looks handy enough against a Sharks side who looked very beatable last week. Pick – 3 units on Dragons +11.5 point start
Knights v Penrith
No write-up available
Pick – 3 units on Knights +14.5 point start
Raiders v Storm
No write-up available
Pick – 1 unit on half / fulltime double – Storm HT / Raiders FT
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Week Three Finals
Week Two Finals
Week One Finals