Three weeks! The finals are almost upon us, but there are still some monstrous games left in the regular season, with seven of the eight this weekend potentially having an impact on the finals race. This is The Roar’s NRL expert tips for Round 23.
Now, full disclosure, the game which doesn’t have an enormous impact on the finals is Sunday afternoon’s clash between the Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors.
But the argument could be made that even it could prove important, thanks to an unlikely winning streak the Warriors have put together in the face of adversity and injuries.
Incredibly, they are now also just two points out of the eight, and while they’d need a lot to go right, if the Sharks are going to be considered a chance, then so too do the Warriors.
The rest of the round is a case of crucial matches as far as the eye can see.
The Gold Coast Titans must overthrow the Melbourne Storm, who are gunning to equal the greatest winning streak in Australian top grade rugby league history.
The Sea Eagles will be sweating on having Tom Trbojevic available, while the Raiders are in a must-win position. The Panthers and Rabbitohs on Friday night is finals come early, while the Sharks are in a must-win situation against the Tigers on Saturday.
The Knights too, with Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce, must beat the Bulldogs, while the Eels are stumbling, bumbling and fumbling their way towards the finals, but have a chance to right some wrongs against the Cowboys.
Sunday brings us the Roosters and Dragons, before the aforementioned Broncos and Warriors game.
Just about everyone got seven last week, apart from The Crowd, who got eight, and me with six because for some unbeknown reason, I took the Titans. AJ got the Tigers game right, but stumbled by tipping the Raiders.
Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEST) this evening to join The Roar’s NRL tipping competition for 2021 and be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for Round 23.
The Barry can lead us away once more.
Tips: Storm, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Sharks, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Warriors
Titans are 0-8 and have conceded 297 points against the top six this season. Even with a host of Storm players being rested there’s nothing to suggest that changes this week.
It’s only six weeks ago that the Raiders towelled up a Turbo-less Sea Eagles. While Tom has been named this week, he’s a big chance of missing out with a cheekbone injury. Lightning may strike twice… which means Thor is a Raiders fan. Makes sense.
Panthers-Rabbitohs is a clear match of the round. While the battle for second versus third has lost a little sting given there’s no home ground semi-final at stake, both teams will be looking to make a statement for September.
Souths have averaged an amazing 40 points in nine games since the Panthers put 50 on them, but there’s still a query on how they go against the top teams. Penrith to edge them.
The Sharks have cruelled some chances over the past month or so to nail down a top-eight spot. Surely they’re too good for the Tigers.
Us Bulldogs, we welcome back Luke Thompson to our starting line-up. Jake Averillo has been named at six, despite concern that he’d fractured our hand last week (ok, I admit it, that’s too far). Knights.
The Eels are in their regular late season free fall but surely a game against the Cowboys who’ve lost nine on the bounce is their chance to get that winning feeling back.
Even with their ‘bits and pieces’ side, the Roosters should be able to put a score on the Dragons. Seriously, have a look at the Dragons pack (and yes, I realise it takes a lot for a Dogs supporter to be pointing the finger at anyone).
Last game of the round is a coin flip. The Broncos and Warriors have both been having a dig lately with mixed results. I’m leaning to the New Zealand Central Coast South East Queensland Warriors.
Tips: Titans, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Broncos
I’ve hit triple figures! And got one back on Pryde and the rest as you all stagger to the end, listless and haggard. Here’s this week’s winners.
I think the Titans will get the Storm this week. The reason is simple – Gold Coast absolutely need to win, Melbourne absolutely do not.
The Raiders will continue their Mithen-like charge to seventh by hanging 56 on the Sea Eagles.
The Bunnies will avenge earlier pastings and give themselves some serious confidence by knocking over Penrith. Will it mean anything come finals time, though?
Tigers will get past Cronulla in a total bludger of a game. I must confess to being bewildered by all this “Tigers can make the eight!” speculation. There’s more chance of me eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly than there is of Wests making the finals.
Knights over Dogs cause Newcastle only beat bad teams.
Eels over Cowboys but most unconvincingly.
Roosters over Dragons, but I think like last week, St George will give a good account of themselves. Danger game if the Chooks aren’t switched on proper.
Broncos to get the Warriors in a close one. For all the rubbish I’ve given them this season, the Warriors deserve some love for turning up each week and giving it a crack.
Tips: Storm, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Sharks, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Broncos
The Storm may have been slightly off over the last couple of weeks, but they will beat the Titans on Thursday night.
The Titans may sit in the top eight and may have an ability to begin rolling over teams beneath them on the ladder, but against a top-four side like South Sydney last weekend, they proved that they still have a long way to go before they are considered premiership threats.
The Sea Eagles have come into form at the right end of the season and will beat the Raiders, who continue to fight for a top-eight spot.
The Raiders came close to upsetting the Storm last week, but their execution continues to let them down. Execution is an area they will no doubt focus on this week, particularly when you consider how many attacking threats the Sea Eagles.
I am really excited for the clash between the Rabbitohs and the Panthers. This should give us a better indication of where exactly the Rabbitohs sit.
I think the Panthers will just be too strong, particularly given the exciting form Matt Burton is in. Additionally, the Bunnies do seem to have some challenges when they are defending their own line. The Panthers will look to take advantage of this.
The Sharks should beat the Tigers Saturday afternoon. It’s interesting, despite some wins over some very average team, many seem to think that the Tigers are still in a good position to make the eight.
I think the Sharks will put them out of contention this weekend; but will it be enough for the Sharks to fight their way back into the top eight?
I’m tipping that the Eels will beat the Cowboys, but I am certainly not confident and the Roosters will put the final nail in the coffin for the Dragons finals hopes this year.
The Broncos and Warriors should be an entertaining clash. Based on form, I am tipping the Broncos, who seem to have found their secret to success in attack in recent weeks.
Tips: Storm, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Broncos
What’s that smell? Is it the whiff of an upset in the air? It’s that crazy time of year, just a few weeks out from finals, when upsets tend to occur.
The top teams start resting players, the bottom teams get themselves pumped for one big game, while the teams in the midfield also battle for the glory of being dispatched in the first week of finals.
I’m picking a few upsets this week. This will either edge me close to the Barry and the Crowd, or kiss my tipping season goodbye. High stakes but I think we’ll see some surprising results this round.
Having said all that, it doesn’t start on Thursday night. Jahrome Hughes and Dale Finucane are likely to be rested, but it really doesn’t matter for the Storm. The hole is always filled.
The Titans will be desperate but, as we saw against the Rabbitohs, desperation only gets you so far. The Storm will continue their record-breaking run.
But we will get an upset or two on Friday night. On Saturday night last week, Manly put Parra to the sword. However, a whack to Tommy Turbo’s plate in his jaw has put his appearance this week under a cloud. He has been named but I think Dessy is foxing.
Manly looked like world beaters last weekend, but their record without the taller Trbojevic is despicable. The Raiders are scratching around for that eighth spot and Ricky will have the siege mentality going.
It won’t be pretty but the Raiders will get home.
The Panthers and Rabbits are odds on to play again in the first week of the finals, so neither team are likely to be going bonkers over this one. I don’t think the Panthers have re-discovered their pre-Origin form, while the Rabbits are playing patches of near flawless footy.
They won’t be able to switch off this week like they did against the Titans, but I think they will win.
First up Saturday afternoon, the Tigers play the Sharks. Readers of the comments section last week would have noticed a fair bit of conjecture as to whether supporters should say “us” when talking about their teams.
For me, it’s a no-brainer really, of course I refer to the Sharks as us. Unfortunately, our season is over, our courageous front rower is in hospital and we have too many injuries.
It sucks to be us.
We have lost interest in this season and the Tigers will roll us in their quest for ninth.
The Bulldogs have just about secured the wooden spoon and will clinch it here when they get punted by the Knights. Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr must be starting to question their sanity.
I know there’s more money involved for sure, but to leave your semi-final bound teams and join the undisputed duds of the comp, is a big career call.
The Eels are being hammered on and off the field. They need a win to relieve some of the tension. Lucky for them, they play a team that has forgotten how to win, the North Queensland Cowboys. Parramatta will win this week before their slump continues.
The Roosters are ripe for the picking with Victor Radley joining Angus Crichton on the sidelines.
The problem for the Dragons, though, is that they have some injuries to worry about and are playing like trash. It is do or die for them and, as I think the Raiders and Knights will finish in the eight, I’m tipping the Roosters.
The Broncos won’t be short of any motivation this week, after their one-point loss to the Roosters. They are finishing better than a number of teams and I think they will get a win against the Warriors to close out the round.
Tips: Storm, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Warriors
Tough week to pick, this. Plenty of games where desperation might get teams falling over the line.
I’ll take the Storm in the opener, though. They haven’t been beaten for more than four months, and I don’t see the defensively ordinary Titans breaking that down.
In saying that, Melbourne have plenty of outs – Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes most notable. Nicho Hynes and Ryan Papenhuyzen on the field at the same time will be intriguing too.
Manly have been untouchable with Tom Trbojevic. He has been named, but I can’t see him being risked. Canberra are desperate and weren’t a million miles away from the Storm last week.
South Sydney got blown out by 50 last time they faced Penrith. The Panthers are still re-gaining their feet with Nathan Cleary returning from injury, and Souths’ attack is absolutely humming, so let me take the upset.
The Sharks should be the Tigers, who are just flat out ordinary more often than they aren’t. Two wins on the trot, but neither of them have looked convincing at all.
The Bulldogs have been a little better in the last fortnight, but desperation to go with star players in Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce will be enough for the Knights, although the Daniel Saifiti out could create issues.
If Parramatta don’t find a way past the Cowboys, Brad Arthur’s job is going to be under the pump more than ever. The Cowboys don’t win away from Townsville though, and recently, they can’t even win at home. Parramatta, but it’ll be a scrap.
Roosters over Dragons. It’s painful. Next.
Warriors to get the Broncos in the last. I don’t like tipping the Warriors to win so many straight, but they have had a real attitude shift… They are talking like it in the media too. I doubt they can scrape into the finals, but gee, it’d make for a story!
|Round 23||AJ||Mary||David||The Barry||Scott||Crowd|
|GLD v MEL||GLD||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|
|CAN v MAN||CAN||MAN||CAN||MAN||CAN||MAN|
|PEN v SOU||SOU||PEN||SOU||PEN||SOU||PEN|
|WST v CRO||WST||CRO||WST||CRO||CRO||CRO|
|CBY v NEW||NEW||NEW||NEW||NEW||NEW||NEW|
|PAR v NQL||PAR||PAR||PAR||PAR||PAR||PAR|
|STI v SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|BRI v NZL||BRI||BRI||BRI||NZL||NZL||NZL|
Remember to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm this evening to be counted as part of The Crowd for this weekend.