NRL 2023 Finals Week 3 – Betting tips & Predictions

James Salmon
NRL Betting Tips
NRL 2023 Finals Week 3

Just four teams remain in the hunt for the NRL Premiership, and lo and behold, it’s the top four teams, with the top two hosting. Things have gone pretty much as expected so far this finals series, with both the Panthers and Broncos getting the job done in the opening week and the Storm and the Warriors reversing their fortunes in the semis to secure Preliminary Final berths. If that trend continues, we’ll have a Panthers vs Broncos Grand Final; both of them enter their respective games as relatively comfortable favourites. But pressure can create strange results, so will the top two teams be able to defy the weight of expectations on their proverbial shoulders, or will they fall victim to it? On this page, we’ll take a detailed look at both Preliminary Finals set to take place this weekend.

Round X Fixtures

FixturesInfo (AEST)Home OddsAway Odds
Panthers vs StormFriday, 22nd of September at 7.50pm$1.19$4.75
Broncos vs WarriorsSaturday, 23rd of September at 7.50pm$1.27$3.80

Penrith Panthers vs Melbourne Storm

The two pre-eminent sides of recent years, the Panthers and the Storm have won the last three Premierships and four of the last six, and this Friday night, one of them will advance to yet another Grand Final. The Panthers, looking to become the first team since 1983 and the first in the NRL era to win three consecutive flags, will be well rested after their dominant 32-6 win over the Warriors in the first week of the finals handed them a week off. That victory made it eight consecutive wins on their home turf, so it’s safe to say that they’ll be heading in with a fair degree of confidence. The shoulders of their star halves pairing of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary will be the source of plenty of interest in the lead-up to the game, but the former appears likely to return while the latter, after sending a scare through the Panthers camp when he suffered an injury at training, has been cleared of damage and should be good to go, too.

The Storm have numerous injury concerns of their own, but while they’re hopeful that a couple of key players will return, they’ll still have at least one notable absentee. Ryan Papenhuyzen will certainly miss, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in their opening final. For Xavier Coates and Jahrome Hughes, both of whom missed their win against the Roosters, things are looking a bit more positive. Hughes appears most likely, but Coates isn’t without a chance as well. They’ll be desperate for those two to return, because while they won their semi-final, they certainly weren’t convincing and a similar quality performance probably won’t be enough against the Panthers. In that semi-final, they jumped out of the blocks with a seventh minute try to Tyran Wishart and another to Marion Seve, but the Roosters clawed their way back and courtesy of a 71st minute field goal, took the lead late. With their season slipping away, however, Will Warbrick crossed the line in the 78th minute, helping them to an extraordinary and stirring victory. 

The Storm will be hoping that the thrilling win will give them an injection of confidence heading into this Preliminary Final, and the potential return of a couple of key players will certainly help too. But they’ll need every bit of that. The Panthers have been a cut above the rest – the Broncos the only exception – throughout the course of the year, and as they showed in their first final, have another gear they can go to when they need it. Just over a month ago, these two sides matched up against one another – that match also in Penrith – and the home side was far too good, running out 26-6 winners. The Storm will be expecting to keep this one tighter than that, but the Panthers defence is so far ahead of the rest of the competition it’s not funny, and they should be able to score enough to work their way reasonably comfortably into their fourth consecutive Grand Final.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Storm under 2.5 tries$1.52
Under 38.5 total match point$1.91
Panthers to win$1.19

Predicted Squads

Penrith PanthersPenrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. SuniaTuruva 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 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

Melbourne StormMelbourne Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Will Warbrick 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Tyran Wishart 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

Brisbane Broncos vs New Zealand Warriors

Few would have expected the Broncos and the Warriors to be matching up in a Preliminary Final at the beginning of the year, but here we are. The Broncos have hardly put a foot wrong all year, consistently rebuking any question marks critics have had of them throughout the course of the season. They locked themselves into the top couple of spots on the ladder very early on in the year with seven consecutive wins to start, and though some expected them to falter, they held firm all the way to finals. As many teams have found out in the past, finals footy is a different ball game, but apparently not for the Broncos – against their bogey side in the Storm and with plenty of eyes watching on to see whether they could produce their best in the finals, they promptly won 26-0 to secure a home Preliminary Final.

The Warriors, meanwhile, took the long way round, but they’ll head into this clash with plenty of confidence. Like the Broncos, they entered the finals as a team which had improved drastically this year and subsequently still had to prove they could bring their best to the finals, and a 32-6 loss to the Panthers in the first week wasn’t a great start. But last weekend, the Warriors side which has been so good all year reappeared. Against a Knights team on a ten-game winning streak, they scored a try in the opening minute of the game and by the 13-minute mark had, incredibly, opened up a 16-0 lead. That got pulled back to six by early in the second half, but the Warriors put their foot on the gas when they needed to and ultimately ran out very impressive 40-10 winners. The start and finish of that game means they’ll enter this Preliminary Final with their tails up, but they’ll need to bring every bit of their best and then some to take out the Broncos. 

These two sides have met just once this season, though that was in New Zealand, and it was a really good game, the Broncos running out winners 26-22. If the Warriors can keep it that close this time around, they’ll have done well. Pressure can do funny things to teams deep in September and there is plenty of that on a Broncos unit which hasn’t ever been in this position, but there has been no suggestion that they’re showing any signs of wilting under that pressure. It feels more likely that they’ll trip up than the Panthers, but those two have been the favourites to play off in the Grand Final for months now, and that’s for good reason. The Broncos deserve a chance to play off for their first flag since 2006, and they should get exactly that.

BookmakerJames’ TipOdds
Broncos to win$1.27
Over 42.5 total match points$1.91
Broncos -10.5$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

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. AddinFonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitch Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. MarataNiukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran

  • The Panthers have only conceded more than two tries in two of their last seven games.
  • Only 26 points were scored in the Broncos first final, but there were at least 42 points scored in each of their seven games prior to that.

Multi of the Week

Storm under 2.5 tries$1.52
Broncos vs Warriors under 42.5 total match points$1.90
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