NRL Round 23 Tips and Predictions - 4 best bets and a multibet to back

Steve Bennett 15 Aug 2018
  • Four tips for Round 23 of the 2018 NRL season
  • Combine them in a multibet

It's down to the business end of the season and the race for top 8 spots is on. Here is what I came up with for round 23.....
 
BRISBANE BRONCOS vs SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
The Broncos return home to Suncorp Stadium after losing two away games in a row, which they have only done once before this season (rounds 4 & 5). Their effort last weekend was good, in fact good enough to lead by 12 points with just 13 minutes left on the clock but they were run down by the Cowboys in the dying stages to finally go down 34-30 in Townsville. The Rabbitohs were arguably the better side in their match against the Roosters but just couldn’t keep them from taking the points with an 18-14 win. 

Both sides made far too many fundamental errors in their respective matches last week and can ill-afford to repeat that performance if they are to consolidate their positions on the ladder. Both sides will be striving to hold home finals in week one of the play-offs so they need to keep winning to be in a position to do so.

The battle of the halves could prove the difference here with the out-of-form Broncos pairing of Nikorima and Milford up against the Souths halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds who would dearly like to erase his performance last week with five errors for the game. 

The forward battle will be a strong one with the Burgess brothers looking to dominate the Broncos pack of Lodge, Thaiday and Josh McGuire. The dummy-half battle will be interesting as well where both Origin hookers Andrew McCullough matches strides with Damien Cook. 

Head-to-head: Played 37; Broncos 27 wins, Rabbitohs 9 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Broncos won 24-20 at ANZ Stadium in round 8

The Broncos have a clear lead in the history books but the Rabbitohs will start warm favourites in this clash. They will, however, still be missing their captain Greg Inglis, still out with that broken hand and he is joined on the sideline by fullback Alex Johnston who is suffering a hamstring injury and his place in the number one jumper will be taken by Dane Gagai.

That should be enough to boost the confidence of the Broncos in front of their home crowd and I believe they can cause the upset here.



WESTS TIGERS vs ST.GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
The Tigers kept their finals hopes alive with a courageous effort to hold off a spirited Raiders side who came back from a 16-point deficit to fall just two points short of victory, eventually going down 22-20. The Dragons’ fall from grace continued with what was by far their worst performance of the year as they conceded 40 points to the last-placed Eels who have now lifted themselves off the bottom of the ladder, courtesy of their 40-4 belting of the former competition leaders.

Key match-ups in this have been dampened a little with injuries which could prove to be vital should the game remain close. Although still missing Origin forward Paul Vaughan, the Dragons pack appear stronger and faster on paper however the same pack made enough errors last week to last a lifetime. This game looks like it will be decided out wide. The Tigers backline seem to lift when playing at Leichhardt Oval and there is enough talent out there to get the job done with an even share of the ball. Brooks and Marshall have clicked all year in the halves and will be keen to dominate the game. 

The Dragons will no doubt miss their five-eight and captain Gareth Widdop who will be missing for at least three weeks after dislocating his shoulder last week. Coach Paul McGregor has moved Kurt Mann into the number six jersey which is bold move as Mann has spent most of his time at fullback and on the wing.

Head-to-head: Played 35; Dragons 19 wins, Wests Tigers 16 wins
Previous result: Wests Tigers won 20-16 at Jubilee Oval in round 18

These two sides have basically shared the honours since they both went through mergers with the Tigers proving too good in their clash just five weeks ago. The Dragons are limping into the finals and have lost five of their last six games and must improve to be competitive during the play-offs. The Tigers simply have to keep winning (while relying on other results) if they are any chance of playing finals football this year. At Leichhardt, against a patched-up limping Dragons outfit, the Tigers should get away with a win here.



CRONULLA SHARKS vs NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Only the most faithful and ardent Cowboys fan could have foreseen last week’s 34-30 victory over the Broncos coming. Down 30-18, they lifted themselves enough to get home in the end. They had over 19,000 fans sitting in 1300 Smiles Stadium to help them across the line that night. The Sharks keep defying the odds and bouncing back from a loss to upset a top eight side and last week was no exception. They out-muscled the Melbourne Storm to sneak home 17-14 and keep their hopes alive for a top four finish.

Key match-ups have again been dampened with players missing through injury and suspension. The Cowboys are by far worse off with key players Jason Taumalolo, and Origin player Michael Morgan both unavailable for this match. Reports are also suggesting that Co-captain Matt Scott is in doubt with a re-occurring neck injury. 

Chad Townsend and Matt Moylan face off against Jonathan Thurston and Jake Clifford who has only had a handful of games in the top grade. The Sharks backline with Val Holmes leading the way at fullback have speed to burn which the Cowboys defensive line will be tested to hold all night.

Both forward packs are big and strong but it is the Sharks line-up of Fifita, Prior and Gallen who have shown much more go forward this year which will put pressure on the Cowboys forward pack to lift several gears if they are to contain the Sharks pack that had the Storm back-peddling last week.

Head-to-head: Played 45; Sharks 27 wins, Cowboys 18 wins
Previous result: Cowboys won 20-14 at 1300Smiles Stadium in round 1

The Sharks have it all over the Cowboys to date and were unlucky to lose their round one clash in Townsville. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and the Sharks will run out in front of their home crowd hot favourites to avenge that round one loss. The Cowboys will give it their all in an attempt to keep winning and avoid the unwanted prize of the wooden spoon but on paper it looks a forlorn hope.



CANBERRA RAIDERS vs SYDNEY ROOSTERS
It’s been a long hard season for the Raiders who have lost so many games by six points or less it’s easy to lose count. Last Sunday, they managed to do it again, this time against the Tigers. Against the same side they beat 48-12 in an away game in round 15, they managed to lose 22-20 in front of a disappointed home crowd. The Roosters played as ugly as they have this year but still managed to account for the Rabbitohs with an 18-14 victory. It wasn’t pretty, but turned out effective and put them on top of the competition for the first time this season. 

The Raiders have the players to match the Roosters here, if they turn up for 80 minutes. With Blake Austin and Sam Williams in the halves, they can set-up plays from almost any situation but they will have to be at their very best if they hope to keep Cooper Cronk in check. The clash between Joe Leilua and Latrell Mitchell promises to be a real highlight in this game. With Dylan Napa playing below his best of late and the loss of Jarrad Waerea-Hargreaves to injury, the Raiders forwards, led by Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd have a golden opportunity to gain the upper hand and keep control of the ruck. Josh Hodgson can steal easy metres up the middle and keep the Raiders going forward, should the Roosters slip out of gear. 

Head-to-head: Played 59; Roosters 32 wins, Raiders 27 wins
Previous result: Raiders won 24-16 at GIO Stadium in round 12, 2017

The stats are fairly even between these two sides and they haven’t met for over a year where the Raiders proved too good on home soil. They have the same advantage here and could make life uncomfortable for the visiting Roosters side. However, if we go by results this season, the writing is on the wall for the home side to, yet again, find another way to lose a game in the dying minutes. I can see that happening here in a close one.





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