NRL preview: Round 23

We’re less than a month away from the finals as clubs put it all on the line to extend their season well into September. 

Broncos v Sharks

The Broncos annihilated the hapless Titans last week, racking up 54 points to bounce back from their disappointing loss to the Eels the previous week.

The Sharks are a shadow of the team that won the premiership last season when chief playmaker James Maloney is out of the lineup, as proven by the heavy losses suffered against the Titans and Canberra last week. Fortunately, the premiership winning half is back this week as the his side look to keep touch with the top four.

This match will be won in the forwards and we expect Sharks captain Paul Gallen to lead the way in his 300th first grade game and that motivation should see the Sharks cover the start.

Prediction: Sharks +6.5 @ $1.80

Dragons v Titans

This is it for the Red V. If they hold any hope of playing finals footy they absolutely must take care of the out of sorts Titans at home.

The Dragons somehow let a 10 point lead slip with eight minutes to play last week and a return to their spiritual home of Kogarah should see their attacking edge return.

The Titans are in disarray and it seems they can’t wait for the season to be over. Their forward pack has been dominated in recent times and the big and mobile Dragons pack should roll through them.

Prediction: Dragons -8.0 @ $1.90

Panthers v Cowboys

The Panthers got past the Tigers at home last week but the 14 point margin certainly did flatter them. The men from the foot of the mountains are finally in the top eight for the first time this season and will look to power on against fellow finals contenders the Cowboys.

The away side were dominated by a more determined Storm outfit at home last week but they have looked impressive over the past six weeks. With Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo powering the side and the improved efforts of recently-acquired playmaker Te maire Martin, you get the feeling this side from up north can beat anyone on their day. More importantly, the gap between these two sides is a lot closer than five points and we’re confident of taking the start.

Prediction: Cowboys +5.5 @ $1.90

Warriors v Raiders

The Raiders are still alive but if they hold any hope of sneaking into the top eight, they’ll have to win their remaining four matches and rely on results going their way. If they can replicate the form shown over the past two weeks – they are certainly every chance of winning four from four. The flair and grit up front has returned to the Raiders game over the past fortnight and that spells danger for their opponents this week, the Warriors.

Stephen Kearney’s side are the worst performing team in the competition right now and without the guidance of Shaun Johnson it’s fair to say they’re a mess. The Raiders should dominate up the middle and that should create gaping holes for their talented outside backs to exploit, in particular, the damaging Joey Leilua.

Prediction: Leilua to score anytime @ $2.10

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