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The Roar’s NRL / NRLW expert tips and predictions 2023 Grand Final Day: It all comes down to this

28th September, 2023
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28th September, 2023
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With the NRL and NRLW grand finals just a few sleeps away, the day is building as one of the best in recent memory.

For the men, we are in for an absolute belter. Whatever team you support usually, it is hard to deny that the two most deserving teams are running out on Sunday.

In one corner, we have the top defensive team, and in the other an attacking machine. A phenomenal group going for a three-peat up against a former powerhouse ready to get back to the top. Both teams farewell stars at the end of the season, have halfbacks who have been dreaming of this moment to come around, and have head coaches who will have sons out on the field.

Sometimes the footy gods do get it right.

After 27 rounds, three weeks of finals, and a season full of blood, sweat and tears – it all comes down to the next 80 minutes.

To the Penrith fans – you are one game away from creating history. Your team is heading into their fourth straight grand final, and looking at cementing a three-peat into the record books.

To the Brisbane fans – it’s been a long 17 years since your last premiership victory, and you are so close to holding up that trophy once more.

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For the women, it’s a match-up between the reining premiers the Newcastle Knights and last year’s wooden spooners the Gold Coast Titans. After the biggest season ever in the women’s game with the largest number of teams, the stakes have never been higher.

Dally M Player of the Year Tamika Upton, along with the Southwell Sisters and the rest of the Knights are looking to make it back-to-back premierships, while Georgia Hale, Jaime Chapman, and the rest of the Titans pack are on the verge of claiming the club’s first-ever premiership.

Four clubs with so much to play for. We are in for a fantastic Grand Final Sunday.

To those who have teams running out on Sunday, congratulations. You are part of something many of us have never experienced and will once again be putting our hopes on for next season.

I wish you all the best of luck. May the best teams win.

As for the tipping competition, I’d like to thank you all for allowing me to bring you this piece each week. I have once again had a ball, and I hope you have had some fun and a few giggles along the way.

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I would like to congratulate our champion Mike for taking out the title! Mike finished on 142, just one point clear of Stuart on 141. Mary finished on 136, with Paul on 132 and last year’s winner AJ on 126. You legends in The Crowd finished on 119 – and you all know where your hostess with the mostest finished on 118.

Mike had a few words to say about his victory:

Well, where do I start…I’d like to thank my parents, for giving me the gift of rugby league, and for raising me in the finest rugby league culture of all, Lancashire. First the World Club Challenge, now the internet’s premier tipping comp. Herbie, complete the set this weekend, mate.

I’d like to thank my fellow tippers, for continuing to tip their rubbish teams and thus giving the cold, rational tippers a leg up, and my beautiful Beaches boys, for not holding it against me on the many occasions I tipped against Manly. All’s fair in love and tipping, Chez.

“I‘d like to thank the punters, for proving that crowds are not actually wise, and Danielle, for making me tip on Wednesdays, when I had actually seen the teams, rather than last year’s nightmare on Tuesdays. 
Finally, let’s thank the NRL: your commitment to imbalanced comp has made tipping easy this year. Long may the good stay good and the crap stay crap.

Thanks again for a wonderful season Roarers. Whether you are heading to the ground or having a BBQ at home, enjoy Sunday and I’ll see you next year.

For the last time in 2023 – happy tipping everyone!

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Stuart Thomas

NRL

Panthers by 11

First Try Scorer: Brian To’o

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Isaah Yeo

The Panthers will be simply too good as the Broncos look to create space on the edges to explode. Being able to manage the contest in the centre and limit the time and space available to Brisbane will be the key.

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NRLW

Knights by 7

First Try Scorer: Tamika Upton

Karyn Murphy Medal Winner: Hannah Southwell

The Knights look the team to beat after a stellar home and away season. Big games are won in the forwards and Southwell will lead in that department. Expect a dog-fight in the first half before the points start to roll as the Knights take control in the second.

Mary Konstantopoulos

NRL

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Panthers by 6

First Try Scorer: Brian To’o

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Brian To’o

This should be a fantastic game. Whilst Brisbane have played incredibly rugby league all year, Penrith are a machine. Penrith have been in this position before and each person knows their role. I’m expecting them to be too clinical for a Broncos team that might try and push an extra pass or two.  

NRLW

Titans by 4

First Try Scorer: Tamika Upton

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Karyn Murphy Medal Winner: Georgia Hale

The Titans have fought their way to the Grand Final and I think they will win. The Titans have been in several close games this year and have the commitment and perseverance to take their opportunities when they come and play patient footy. I’m expecting an epic battle in the forwards between the likes of Shannon Mato and Caitlin Johnston and the two fullbacks to shine.

Michael Hagan

NRL

Panthers by 6

First Try Scorer: Sunia Turuva

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Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Nathan Cleary

The Panthers have the best defence, an outstanding kicking game and a great ability to build pressure. They have Grand Final experience across the board!

NRLW

Knights by 8

First Try Scorer: Jasmin Strange

Karyn Murphy Medal Winner: Tamika Upton

The Knights have premiership experience and a great coach in Ron Griffiths. They have quality in the key positions of fullback Tamika Upton, halfback Jess Southwell and front row Caitlan Johnson.

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Paul Suttor

NRL

Panthers by 14

First Try Scorer: Brian To’o

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Liam Martin

Penrith have shown nothing all year to suggest they are fading despite a fourth straight long campaign which finishes on Grand Final night. If they play anywhere near their best, they will become the first team since 1983 to register a three-peat. Brisbane have done well to get this far but unless all their passes stick and each half-chance is converted into points, they will come up short.

NRLW

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Knights by 8

First Try Scorer: Jesse Southwell

Karyn Murphy Medal Winner: Caitlin Johnston

The Knights have been the dominant team all season and with the game’s best player in Tamika Upton causing havoc from fullback, they look like they’ve got plenty more points in them than the Titans. Karyn Murphy demands excellence so her team will not go down without a fight but they’ve got the weight of decades of history against them in trying to break the jinx of Gold Coast sporting mediocrity.

Mike Meehall Wood

NRL 

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Panthers by 13+ 

First Try Scorer: Sunia Turuva

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Nathan Cleary

The Broncos are good but the Panthers are better. Is it as simple as that? Well…pretty much. I’d like it to be different, but history would tell you that the team with the best defence beats the team with the best attack, and that winning previously heavily impacts your chances of winning in the future.

This might be the one that the Broncos need to lose to win next time out, and I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me that the Threepeat is coming. The Bronx will have to throw it in the second half too, and I can see a few late points coming.

NRLW 

Knights by 13+ 

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First Try Scorer: Abigail Roache

Karyn Murphy Medal Winner – Georgia Roche

The Knights have been on a tear and did for the Titans with relative ease in the regular season. Like the Panthers, they also have the muscle memory from last year, plus Tamika Upton, the best game-breaker in the women’s game.

She’d be my premier pick for Player of the Match, but I feel like my compatriot Georgia Roche has been building nicely and will go on to show everyone just how good she is. Alright, I also really want her to do well, too. 

AJ Mithen

NRL 

Broncos by 8

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First Try Scorer: Herbie Farnworth 

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Adam Reynolds

I’m all in on a redemption story for GF23. I’m not using any supreme tactical analysis or history or anything like that, I just would prefer a Broncos win and I think they can do it. I want good news stories for Adam Reynolds, Kev and Billy Walters, Pat Carrigan and the crew. Penrith, great as they are and unbeatable as they look, have had their go. It’s up to the rest of the comp to catch up to them and I think Brisbane have done that. 

NRLW

Knights by Plenty

First Try Scorer: Caitlan Johnston 

Karyn Murphy Medal Winner: Yasmin Clydesdale

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Much as the world loves an underdog, there’s no reasonable way you can go against the Knights. The teams have enough in defence to keep each other at bay and Gold Coast did keep the Roosters to a blurter in the smile final, but the Knights have too much going on in the backline with the likes of Tamika Upton, Shanice Parker and Abigail Roache constant scoring threats.

The Knights hit the scoreboard more than the Titans, but they might need to get the work done early because it’s going to be stinking hot and you wouldn’t want things to be too close for comfort when everyone’s knackered at the end.

A quirk for this one too – Titans coach Karyn Murphy has the medal for best afield named in her honour and she’ll be presenting it to someone. That must be a surreal feeling…

Danielle Smith

NRL

Broncos by 1

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First Try Scorer: Herbie Farnworth

Clive Churchill Medal Winner: Payne Haas

The Panthers have been nothing short of phenomenal, and staring down the barrel of a three-peat cannot be ignored. They are a well-oiled machine and deservedly favourites.

This tip from me is all heart. I would love to see a Broncos win, seeing as they got the spoon only a few seasons ago. There aren’t too many fans who would be sad to see Reynolds on stage accepting the trophy, myself included.

And I would love to see a big guy like Haas have so much of an impact on the game that he takes out the CCM.

NRLW

Knights by 12

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First Try Scorer: Tamika Upton

Karyn Murphy Medal: Tamika Upton

Hats off to the Titans for such a turnaround from last season, but this year belongs to Newcastle. The girls are just on fire.

For the last time this season – as always, I’m tipping my Knights.

GRAND FINALAJDanielleMaryMikePaulStuartMichaelThe Crowd
NRLBRI BRIPENPENPEN  PENPEN ?
Margin8 1613+ 14 116 ?
First try-scorerFARNWORTH FARNWORTHTOÓTURUVA TO’O TOÓTURUVA ?
Clive ChurchillREYNOLDS HAASTOÓCLEARY MARTIN YEOCLEARY ?
          
NRLWNEW NEWGLDNEW NEW NEWNEW ?
MarginPLENTY 18413+ 8 78 ?
First try-scorerJOHNSTON UPTONUPTONROACHE SOUTHWELL UPTONSTRANGE ?
Karyn Murphy CLYDESDALE UPTONHALEROCHE UPTON H. SOUTHWELLUPTON ?
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