The first week of the finals went largely as planned, at least in terms of results, though the way some of the games panned out certainly wasn’t expected. In particular the ease with which the Panthers and Broncos won was a surprise, with neither the Storm or Warriors giving much of a whimper in their respective games. They’ll now both be forced to fight their way through a tough set of semi-finals to make the final four, with the Storm hosting the Roosters and the Warriors hosting the Raiders. Both those visitors are coming off thrilling Elimination Final victories, but will nonetheless enter their respective games as underdogs. On this page, we’ll have a detailed look at how both of those games might pan out.
NRL 2023 Round Finals Week Two – Betting tips & Predictions
Melbourne Storm vs Sydney Roosters
Well that didn’t quite go to plan for the Melbourne Storm. After entering the finals with their tails up and a winnable game against a team they’ve had the wood over for a very long time, they didn’t fire a shot against the Broncos and went down 26-0. Making matters worse, Ryan Papenhuyzen, fresh back from his extended layoff, suffered a serious ankle injury which will see him miss the remainder of the seasons. Xavier Coates also suffered an ankle injury, the extent of which is not yet clear, while a number of players had to undergo HIAs and will be touch and go for this Friday’s game as a result.
The Roosters, meanwhile, continued what has been a very unusual season with a thrilling victory over the Sharks, a 72nd minute field goal to Sam Walker giving them a one-point lead which they wouldn’t relinquish. That 13-12 win takes them to a semi-final which, at the beginning of the year, they would have expected to be a bare minimum as a result for the season, but which a couple of months ago looked impossible. But they too will be without a couple of players from that win against the Storm, with Billy Smith ruled out for the season with a jaw injury, and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalli set to miss with a head knock, while Joey Manu will be touch and go.
But while the Roosters head in on the back of a stirring victory and the Storm a disheartening loss, the reality remains that the home team in this game has been far superior throughout the course of the season. There’s no denying that the Roosters have deserved their win streak which has now stretched to six games, but their win last weekend over the Sharks was the first in that stretch against a finals team. Last time they played a top side they went down 32-10 to the Broncos, while a couple of weeks before that the Storm beat them 30-16. The Roosters have been playing good footy and won’t be an easy beat, but on their home turf the Storm should still be too good.
|Under 40.5 total match points
|Storm to win
Melbourne 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. Josh King 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Tom Eisenhuth 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Tariq Sims
Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Fetalaiga Pauga 3. Drew Hutchison 4. Corey Allan 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Fletcher Baker 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 15. Egan Butcher 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton
New Zealand Warriors vs Newcastle Knights
After the Storm were demolished by the Broncos on Friday night, the Panthers proved further that the top two occupied those spots for a reason, taking care of the Warriors with the consummate professionalism which has so defined them over the past few years. The Warriors were no match for the Premiership favourites, failing to pose much of a threat offensively against the best defence in the league all game and ultimately going down 32-6. But in better news, they are set to return star number 7 Shaun Johnson from the calf injury which he suffered at training last week and which kept him out of the clash with the Panthers. They’ll likely need him, too, because they’re coming up against the team which always looked like the most dangerous outside the top four, a Knights side which has now won ten games on the trot.
Impressive as the Knights have been over that period though, Sunday was far from their finest performance and they cut it mighty fine against a Raiders team they should probably have beaten comfortably. The Knights scored a relatively easy try early in the game, and thereafter it felt like they, like the general public, thought things would be a bit of a cakewalk from there. It wasn’t. The Raiders were as stoic as ever, and even after the home side ran away in the second half, clawed their way back to force the game to extra time with a very late try. Fortunately for the Knights they ultimately escaped with a 30-28 win, but they’ll need to play better than that this weekend and they’ll be doing it without Jackson Hastings, who re-injured his ankle in the win.
But however they did it, win they did, and they now find themselves in a very winnable semi-final against the Warriors. They’ll of course have to travel across the pond to Auckland, but they’ve been playing well no matter the venue of late, and the Warriors, somewhat surprisingly, haven’t been completely dominant at home – they were 8-4 there during the season, the same as their away record. There’s no doubting that the Warriors will feel like they have an extra man on the park in the form of the crowd, but it’s hard to ignore just how good the Knights have been the past couple of months or so. They weren’t at their best on Sunday, but perhaps the closeness of that match will give them a kick up the backside. It will be mighty tough to come away from New Zealand with a win, but they are capable of causing the first upset of the finals series.
|Knights to win
New 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. Mitch Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran
Newcastle Knights 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mat Croker
- The first three games of the finals all saw under 40 points scored, with two of those yielding just 51 points combined.
- The Knights’ ten-win streak has no just been against easybeats – four of those wins have been over finals teams, including one against the Storm, while they also beat the Rabbitohs, who just missed out on finals.
Multi of the Week
|Storm vs Roosters under 40.5 total match points
|Bet $10 for $71.25 with PlayUp
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