With a fair amount of daylight between the top four or five teams and the rest of the competition, Round 22 still threw up some thrilling matches.

The Tigers had their chances to take down the Rabbitohs before crumbling late, and it was a first-half Matt Burton field goal that ultimately proved the difference in a nail-biting Bulldogs win over The Dolphins.

The Cowboys stumbled against the Titans and also lost Valentine Holmes for four weeks, while the Storm announced their run to the title has begun. The Warriors return after a rest this week.

As NRLSC head-to-head comps kick off finals this week, many coaches will be searching for the best value POD plays - and there are a plethora of options on the table.

Embed from Getty Images

Round 23: Tips and SuperCoach Notes

Sydney Roosters vs Manly Sea Eagles
Thursday 3rd August 7:50pm | Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney

Why the Roosters will win: Manly were expected to be more definitive in their win over St George Illawarra last week for Daly Cherry-Evans' 300th first grade game, but only narrowly got the job done. While the Roosters fell to the high-flying Broncos, they are definitely looking better each week, despite likely leaving their run far too late. The home ground advantage will favour the Chooks.

Why the Sea Eagles will win: If results go their way this round, Manly could find themselves in the top eight and that is enormous incentive to go into a game with. The Roosters are languishing in 14th position and if they lose this match, they will join the Dragons and Tigers in planning Mad Monday festivities. It's too much for the Roosters, and it appears the team have accepted it. Manly will be fighting for a finals berth and will want it more.

Fansided tip: Sea Eagles by 4

SuperCoach notes: James Tedesco may have had a quiet year, but he's coming home with a wet sail with a 3-round average of 85.7. Manly's left edge of Tolutau Koula and Jason Saab have been racking up the attacking stats of late, both averaging between 71 - 75 over the past three matches, and both priced in the mid to late $400Ks.

Embed from Getty Images

Gold Coast Titans vs New Zealand Warriors
Friday 4th August 6:00pm | Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

Why the Titans will win: Bolstered by ending the Cowboys' six-match winning streak, the Titans will be filled with confidence and will enjoy another match at home. Last week, their chances of making finals was labeled as 'mathematical'. Their record at home is 5W 4L, and what better opportunity for a dream run of building momentum than beating the highly fancied Warriors this week?

Why the Warriors will win: There are many things to marvel at with the 2023 Warriors, one aspect in particular being their team-first mentality. This is a fully cohesive unit, bursting with young talent, experienced heads, journey-men and redemption arcs. Led by the leading contender for coach of the year in Andrew Webster, the Warriors now make any opposition nervous, regardless of form. The Titans are still without Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, whose inclusion would have made things interesting.

Fansided tip: Warriors by 10

SuperCoach notes: The Warriors boast a suite of highly-relevant NRLSC players in Shaun Johnson, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Addin Fonua-Blake, Tohu Harris, Wayde Egan and the list goes on. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is enjoying a career year too, averaging 81 over the past five rounds. With the Warriors easy run to a potential top four finish, DWZ could score a bag of tries and be a real head-to-head difference for coaches, as he's only owned by 6.1%. For the Titans, Erin Clark has looked appealing in the absence of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, however the captain is due back next week which will likely shift Clark back to the bench.

Embed from Getty Images

Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm
Friday 4th August 8:00pm | BlueBet Stadium, Penrith

Why the Panthers will win: Only one change for the Mountain Men, with Tyrone Peachey suspended but covered handily by Zac Hosking, and with Izack Tago nearing a return also. Playing away, the Panthers are a tall order, but at home they find another gear. Nathan Cleary has shown no signs of being hampered by his recent hamstring injury, and the Panthers will be keen to stamp their authority over the Storm, who many include in the small handful of teams who pose a threat to a Penrith three-peat.

Why the Storm will win: The Storm are typically hitting their straps at the business end of the season and will be boosted by the return of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, a player who completely changes the dynamic of the side when he's on the field. Melbourne completely decimated the Eels last week and will be desperate to not only stay in the top four, but to win the mind-battle over the Panthers leading into the finals series.

Fansided tip: Panthers by 7

SuperCoach notes: Harry Grant and Jahrome Hughes are coming off some mega 149+ scores against the Eels, but are coming up against the best defensive team in the competition this round. After starting off the year slowly, Brian To'o has really hit his straps since Origin wrapped up and is in POD territory (15%) for the run home. His 3-round average is 81.

Embed from Getty Images

North Queensland Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday 5th August 3:00pm | Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

Why the Cowboys will win: The Cowboys have an 8W 2L record at home and will be burning after their winning streak was surprisingly ended by the Titans last week on the Gold Coast. Losing that match will be the scare they needed to continue pushing towards cementing their place in the finals after being one of the form sides in the NRL over the past two months.

Why the Broncos will win: While the Cowboys boast a resounding W/L record at home, the Broncos go one better with an away record of 9W and 1L - the best away record in the competition. Brisbane are all but assured of finishing in the top four and are showing no signs of a late season form slump that they experienced in 2022, in fact it's likely they are using that disappointment to spur themselves on. A minor premiership is not out of the question.

Fansided tip: Broncos by 14

SuperCoach notes: There are a lot of NRLSC relevant players on the field in this derby which could prove to be a high scoring affair. The backlines of both teams could see some big scores in this one, with the likes of Scott Drinkwater vs Reece Walsh and Selwyn Cobbo vs Murray Taulagi set to impact the result. Adam Reynolds has the form consistency over the past five rounds, averaging 78.2 and only owned by 7.4%. He's considerably cheaper than the most owned halves in Hynes, Cleary and Johnson.

Embed from Getty Images

The Dolphins vs Newcastle Knights
Saturday 5th August 5:30pm | Optus Stadium, Perth

Why the Dolphins will win: Before the 2023 season kicked off, The Dolphins were favourite to win the wooden spoon. They have defied expectations all season long, and for most of the comp, were sitting in the top eight. Wayne Bennett will have been watching their slide down the ladder and will be motivating them not to throw all they've worked for away. They won't finish with the spoon, but Bennett will have the Redcliffe-based side still pushing for a fairytale finals finish and it's still a mathematical possibility.

Why the Knights will win: Since demolishing the Bulldogs over a month ago, the Knights have vaunted one of the best attacking structures in the competition and now find themselves just one win out of the top eight and on a winning streak. They'll be filled with confidence after convincingly beating the Raiders in Canberra last week, and led by Kalyn Ponga, they're now likely to feature in finals footy.

Fansided tip: Knights by 22

SuperCoach notes: The backline of the Knights all scored over 56 last round, with Ponga (122), Gagai (97), Marzhew (69), Best (57) and Young (56) all viable options for the run home. The Dolphins should have lost by a lot more last week against the Bulldogs who butchered at least three tries, and Newcastle are one of the comp's hottest attacking units at this stage of the year.

Embed from Getty Images

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Cronulla Sharks
Saturday 5th August 7:35pm | Optus Stadium, Perth

Why the Rabbitohs will win: Intriguingly, these two sides swapped positions on the ladder after last round, but both were largely unconvincing and will be desperate to stay in contention. It is the Sharks who have been more disappointing and they will be in panic-mode after losing their solid-as-a-rock fullback Will Kennedy, who would likely only make a return by the second week of the finals. With Latrell Mitchell ready to turn a disappointing year around, Souths will be too strong.

Why the Sharks will win: There will be no home ground advantage in this contest, as the Rabbitohs take this encounter to Perth. Much has been spoken about regarding the Bunnies' road-trip style end to the season, and all of the travel will have them fatiguing at the business end of the season. While the Sharks were stifled in attack against the Panthers, they did well to limit the damage after spending almost the entire match defending in their red zone. That will give them a little confidence.

Fansided tip: Sharks by 1

SuperCoach notes: Both teams are fighting to regain form and momentum in the final rounds of the year. South Sydney's left edge of Alex Johnston and Isaiah Tass were quiet in the earlier rounds, with the Rabbitohs finding joy in scoring on the right edge. With the return of Latrell Mitchell, who prefers swinging left in combination with Cody Walker, Johnston and Tass should reap plenty of tries and try assists respectively. The Sharks have been poor, and owners of the likes of Ronaldo Mulitano, Sione Katoa and Jesse Ramien praying that Cronulla rediscovers its attacking mojo quickly.

Embed from Getty Images

Parramatta Eels vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Sunday 6th August 2:00pm | Commbank Stadium, Sydney

Why the Eels will win: It's likely that the Dragons will have all but clocked off now, and there is plenty of external noise posing distractions for the RedV, including the usual rumblings of shopping players about and the suspension of captain Jack De Belin. While he's become a divisive figure in the game, there's no denying the talent of Dylan Brown and his return will absolutely strengthen Parramatta.

Why the Dragons will win: The Eels casualty ward features Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Maika Sivo, Shaun Lane and Josh Hodgson. That's quite a substantial list of outs for the blue and golds, and an ambush could be on the cards for St George Illawarra, who are currently duking it out with the Wests Tigers and Bulldogs for the wooden spoon.

Fansided tip: Eels by 13

SuperCoach notes: The disgraced Dylan Brown will be expected to reignite Parramatta's run to the finals, but will be fairly underdone and could expect some cold attention from opposition fans. When he was suspended, he was averaging 95, but at the time he was brimming with confidence and running the ball. Expect him to ease back into the NRL in a more passive, ball distributing role. For the Dragons, Zac Lomax is still an uber-POD at 1.8% ownership and playing as well as he ever has, with a 3-round average of 109.7.

Embed from Getty Images

Canberra Raiders vs Wests Tigers
Sunday 6th August 4:05pm | GIO Stadium, Canberra

Why the Raiders will win: Humbled by the Knights last week at home, the Raiders get another home game and an opportunity to stay in touch with the top four against the last-placed Tigers, who despite trying hard each week, are no doubt turning their minds to 2024 by this stage. Wests will be missing Origin prop Stefano Utoikamanu and young gun Shawn Blore which will advantage the Green Machine.

Why the Tigers will win: The Tigers vaunt a number of relatively unsung heroes in a club that has struggled all year, with Alex Twal, David Klemmer, John Bateman and Fonua Pole  rarely putting a foot wrong. They've been competitive, without the wins. Last week they were within striking distance of taking down the Rabbitohs, but have lost the feeling of winning regularly. They're favourites for the spoon and are now playing for pride. It's a good thing they still have plenty of that, in the face of relentless media attacks and tough results.

Fansided tip: Raiders by 10

SuperCoach notes: The weather forecast for Canberra this Sunday at kickoff is to be around 14 degrees, overcast and with a possible chance of showers. It may not be the high scoring affair that many expect it to be. The Tigers had their best win in awful conditions against the Panthers earlier in the year, albeit low-scoring and tight. Expect forwards to decide the outcome of this game, with halves and backs likely scoring low.

Embed from Getty Images


Comments are closed.