NRL 2023 Finals Week One – Betting tips & Predictions

James Salmon
NRL Betting Tips
NRL 2023 - Finals Week One

After one of the most enthralling home and away seasons in recent memory, the 2023 NRL Finals series is finally upon us. For much of the season there were up to 12 or 13 teams in with a legitimate chance of playing final, but at the final hurdle it was the Roosters who jumped in, while the Raiders just hung on. That sets up a couple of big Elimination Finals, but it’s the top four who will kick us off, beginning with the second clash in two weeks between the Broncos and Storm at Suncorp Stadium. On Saturday afternoon the Panthers will host the Warriors for a spot in the other Preliminary Final, before the Sharks host the Roosters on Saturday night and then the Knights host the Raiders the next day. Check out our detailed previews of all four games below. 

Finals Week One Fixtures

FixturesInfo (AEST)Home OddsAway Odds
Broncos vs StormFriday, September 8 at 7.50pm$1.60$2.35
Panthers vs WarriorsSaturday, September 9 at 4.00pm$1.22$4.30
Sharks vs RoostersSaturday, September 9 at 7.50pm$1.90$1.90
Knights vs RaidersSunday, September 10 at 4.05pm$1.23$4.20

Brisbane Broncos vs Melbourne Storm

The NRL Finals kick off with a Qualifying Final clash between the massively improved Broncos and the perennially competitive Storm, who will lock horns on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium. The two sides, of course, met just last week at the same stadium, and after a tight game the Storm scored two tries late to race away to a 32-22 win. That win saw them jump into third place on the ladder while the Broncos fell to second, but the way that other results fell meant that even if the result between these two went the other way, they would have played one another in the first week of the finals.

The Broncos have been fantastic all year, though interestingly they’ve actually performed better on the road than they have at home, where they have a relatively indifferent record of 7-5 – the same record the Storm boast away from home. Finals are a different beast though, and the passionate Brisbane crowd will no doubt provide an extra boost for the Broncos, but while looking at history isn’t always the best way to judge an upcoming game, it's hard to ignore what’s happened in the past between these two teams. In 54 total games, the Storm have won a huge 40 of them, and the recent history is even more stark. This weekend’s visitors have won a huge 14 in a row against the Broncos and an incredible 24 of the last 26, and it’s hard to ignore such a dominant record. Of course, the Brisbane team of this year is a different beast and have established themselves as the best team in the business alongside the Panthers, but that record has to be playing on their mind. In an opening weekend upset, the Storm can get the job done in a tight game to lock in a home Preliminary Final.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Storm to win$2.35
Storm 1-12$3.55
Storm +4.5$1.87

Predicted Squads

Brisbane BroncosBrisbane Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tom Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Tyson Smoothy 15. Brendan Piakura 16. Kobe Hetherington 17. Keenan Palasia

Melbourne StormMelbourne Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Will Warbrick 3. Marion Seve 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes  8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eli Katoa 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Tepai Moeroa 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen

Penrith Panthers vs New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors have been fantastic this season in locking in a surprising top four spot, but their inability to get the job done with an admittedly undermanned team against the Dolphins last weekend meant they dropped to fourth, and will subsequently have to head to Penrith to take on the Panthers. As good as the Broncos have been this year, this is the toughest trip in the NRL. The Panthers are still the best team in the league and are capable of growing another leg in the finals, and as the winner of the past two Grand Finals they’ll have confidence in spades heading into this game.

The Warriors will, of course, welcome back a spate of players who missed last week, while the Panthers will be without Jarome Luai in what is a significant loss, but they were without him last weekend and still managed to demolish a Cowboys team fighting for a spot in the finals 44-12. Penrith have had a few rogue losses throughout the course of the year, but they’ve become fewer and further between as the season has worn on and it has felt all year like when they truly need to, they’ve got another gear to go to. Expect them to find it this weekend. Defensively they have been incredible this season, conceding less than 75% of the points as the second stingiest team, and expect that defense to come to the fore this weekend. Few teams have the ability to score with any sort of regularity against Penrith at their best, and as good as the Warriors have been this year, they’re not the exception. The Panthers will apply the handbrakes from the get go in this one, and can keep the Warriors to a low score and earn a home Preliminary Final in the process.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Panthers to win$1.24
Warriors under 2.5 tries$1.85
Panthers -12.5$1.87

Predicted Squads

Penrith PanthersPenrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jack Cogger 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Zac Hosking

New Zealand WarriorsNew Zealand Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan
10. Bunty Afoa  11. Josh Curran 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jackson Ford 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Tom Ale

Cronulla Sharks vs Sydney Roosters

Come Saturday evening, dominos will begin to fall, with the first of our two Elimination Finals set to take place between the Sharks and the Roosters and the loser to be sent packing from the finals. Of all four games taking place over the course of the weekend, this is the hardest one to pick, and the odds suggest as much. The Sharks have certainly been the more consistent team over the course of the season and have held a spot in the top eight for much of it, and they also enter the finals series having won four of their past five games. But over the past few weeks, the Roosters have found the kind of form that made them a Premiership favourite earlier in the season, incredibly winning five games on the trot by double figures, the last of them against their biggest rival in the Rabbitohs to secure a spot in the finals. That win saw them jump into the top eight for the first time since early in the season just in the nick of time.

They will, of course, still have to travel, and on the road they’re just 5-7 this year. But like their form in general, that trend has reversed in recent times, with wins against the Rabbitohs and Eels in their past two away games and three of their last four resulting in victories. They have travelled to Cronulla earlier in the season and went down 22-12, but that was way back in April and doesn’t have much bearing on this game. With both sides entering this team in excellent form – having lost just a solitary game between them in the past five weeks – this should be a terrific clash, and whoever wins will not be a side the loser of the Broncos and Storm will be particularly keen to face. Expect this to go down to the wire, but the way they are playing, it is hard to go past the Roosters in a tight one.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Roosters to win$1.90
Roosters 1-12$3.00
Roosters +1.5$1.80

Predicted Squads

Cronulla-Sutherland SharksCronulla Sharks: 1. Connor Tracey 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cam McInnes 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Tom Hazelton 17. Oregon Kaufusi

Sydney Roosters

Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Joseph Suaalii 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Fetalaiga Pauga6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Egan Butcher 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith  15. Fletcher Baker 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton

  • The Storm have won their last 14, and 24 of their last 26, against the Broncos.
  • The Knights have won their last four games, and seven of their last nine, by at least 16 points.
  • The Panthers have played seven finals in the past two years, and haven’t conceded more than two tries in any of those games.

Multi of the Week

Storm to win$1.77
Knights -12.5$1.90
Warriors to score two or more tries – No$1.83
Bet $10 for $61.54 with PlayUp

Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders

Rounding out the first week of finals is a clash between a Knights team which might be the most in-form in the competition, and an undermanned Raiders side which just barely held onto their spot in the top eight. Last weekend, the Knights assured themselves of fifth spot with yet another comfortable win, this time against the Dragons, in a result which marked an incredible nine successive victories. What’s more, most of those have been in a canter, with their two-point defeat of the Dolphins in early August and an eight-point defeat of the Storm a couple of weeks earlier the only really competitive ones. In the past month, they’ve beaten the Dragons by 20, the Sharks by 26, the Rabbitohs by 19 and the Bulldogs by 36. It’s a form line which would have any team in the NRL, let alone a Raiders team which has been losing a lot more than they’ve been winning for quite a while and which will be without a number of key players.

Canberra essentially locked in their spot in the top eight with a scintillating run through the middle of the year in which they won nine of 11 games, but every single one of those games came by a single figure margin, and a points difference of -137 at the end of the season suggests they could and probably should have missed the top eight. Adding further to their issues is the fact that they need to head to Newcastle for this game, where the Knights have a 9-3 record this year. Clearly, none of that bodes particularly well for the Raiders. They’ve shown an ability to defy their critics throughout the course of the year, but with the form that the Knights are in it’s really difficult to see them getting particularly close in this one.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Knights to win$1.22
Over 42.5 total match points$1.91
Knights -12.5$1.90

Predicted Squads

Newcastle KnightsNewcastle Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Dylan Lucas 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington  17. Mat Croker

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders: 1. Jordan Rapana 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jack Wighton 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Nick Cotric 6. Matt Frawley 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Ata Mariota 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joe Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Hohepa Puru 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Pasami Saulo  17. Trey Mooney

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