NRL Tips & Game Previews | Round 23 | 2021

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MrG provides our NRL Tips Previews and content each week for our Reading The Play NRL subscribers. Further details on our NRL offering here

MrG’s Game Handicaps for this round

+20.5 Titans v Storm – Robina
+17.5 Raiders v Eagles – Brisbane
-0.5 Panthers v Rabbits – Brisbane
+2.5 Tigers v Sharks – Rockhampton
+13.5 Bulldogs v Knights – Robina
-16.5 Eels v Cowboys – Robina
+8.5 Dragons v Roosters – Toowoomba
+4.5 Broncos v Warriors – Brisbane


Recommended Bet List

Bet 2.5 units Eagles -14.5 $1.90 BB
Working on Tom T playing then I think this is way too short, Eagles overall are also in strong confident form, Raiders also have 3 keys outs

Bet 1.5 units Rabbits +2.5 $1.90
Looks line ball, think Rabbits have point to prove here, think they can win and the plus a small advantage

Bet 2 units Bulldogs-Knights under 52.5 $1.90
Look two teams really struggling for cohesive attack and points

Bet 1 unit Dragons +11.5 $1.90
Bet 1 unit Dragons +12.5 $1.90
Think the market is too wide given Roosters outs and recent form, and Dragons field all but strongest line up for last 6 weeks

Bet 1.5 units Warriors -1.5 $1.90
Warriors have won last 3 and look to be improving off getting key players back, Broncos again have forced key changes and disruption in halves

Bet 1.5 units anytime try Reuben Garrick (Sea Eagles) x Enari Tuala (Newcastle Knights) $2.54

BB – Indicates Best Bet

Any longer term plays that have been recommended in prior weeks will be listed at the base of this message


Individual Game Tips

Storm, Eagles, Rabbits, Sharks, Knights, Eels, Roosters, Warriors


Game Preview Notes

+20.5 Titans v Storm – Robina

Ground: Robina
51.5 Total Points (market position)

And again last week the Storm keep rolling along and now here chase the record of 19 straight wins. But they do have again some key team changes, Hughes is missing which is very significant, as to Brandon Smith, Finucane and Olam and Hynes moves to #7 and Papenhuyzen to start at #1. The Titans also have two key outs in Brimson and Fotuaika.

I think the line of 20.0 or there abouts is too big given all of the team changes and how the Storm seem content at present to just get the job done each week, but one can have no confidence in the Titans defence not to crumble and leak points and so just happy to leave well alone. The Titans let 36 through last week v Rabbits and have failed to win in all 8 games v top 5 sides this season (and their longer term record is the same). They should well have won this match up back in Rd 13 at the Sunshine Coast which is also the last time the Storm were stretched this season, but it was also through the Origin period so some excuse can be made. After a long run of being a darling for punters the Storm have now not covered the line at 3 of their last 4 outings, I think Bellamy is just focused on a) getting a win each week and b) tapering them toward the finals, resting up those that he has to, get game time into others, and be ready when it matters.

Storm to win, no bet interest.

+17.5 Raiders v Eagles – Brisbane

Ground: Brisbane
49.5 Total Points (market position)

I have worked on the expectation that Tom T plays for the Eagles, but all won’t be revealed until late Thursday or Friday prior to game time. My understanding is similar to what has been reported, the knock to his jaw is bruising no fracture, and that he is very keen to play, in the background is the Dally M which he is either leading or right in contention for and is very motivated to win. Whether the knock is bad bruising that they then don’t want to take any risk with and so rest him for one week we will have to wait and see. Based on this expectation with the market at 14.5 I was happy to step in, it has moved to 15.5 and should it then be confirmed that he plays then I expect that it starts 17.0 to 18.0 or there abouts. Should he not play the bet obviously stands.

When these tow last met both Tom and DCE didn’t play and the Eagles had a number of other forward outs at the time and it was on the end of the Origin period. The overall Eagles line up and form offering now is far stronger, much better in the middle and DCE and Foran are in some rare quality form. They dropped back a level last week from the Storm to the Eels (then 4th) and a market position of 14.5 and then duly ripped them a new one, but the point being that with Tom here a market position against this Raiders line up (9th) can’t be right, and even without his magic then with their current stronger form line and list (and confidence) and what has been a very suspect Raiders defence they look in a very strong position.

The Raiders also have some key outs, Starling, Harawira-Naera and Crocker, are 2 from 8 v top 5 sides this season, and have a horrible longer term record at Suncorp losing 8 of their last 9 here (and 13 of their last 15). Had the Storm been half serious after running out to the early 16-0 lead last week they would have put 50 on them so poor was some of their edge defence. I’m happy to keep taking them on, in particular here against a strong offering and a team with something to play for in chasing the top 4 spot.

Like Eagles, hope Tom plays and they really get stuck in.

With the news of Tom not playing the market is now 9.5, I am 11.5. As suggested above DCE and Foran are in quality form and they’ll have Dylan Walker to slot in somewhere, while the Raiders do have key outs. The Eagles best even with out Tom is good enough to cover 14.5, lets hope that’s what we see.

-0.5 Panthers v Rabbits – Brisbane

Ground: Brisbane
48.5 Total Points (market position)

Clearly the game of the week, 2 plays 3 and what looks an excellent contest. Both team lists have some key ins, Panthers Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Capewell and Pangai Jnr should he play at some stage, while the Rabbits get the notable Johnston, Graham, Gagai into their backline and Sele onto their forward bench.

Both teams sit of 38 points and an 8 point gap behind them and so regardless of the outcome will play each other in week one of the finals. What for mine looks more at stake here is the mental edge and match up performance and I think this matters much much more to the Rabbits this week. While they have won 10 straight and shown some lethal attack they have also been flat track bullies rolling through some lower table weak opponents. They have lost the last 3 straight to the Panthers and back in Rd 11 were smashed 56-12 in Dubbo, while they have also been touched up by the Storm, so while they are genuine top 3 contender if they are serious about what unfolds in September they need to be able to win against the panthers and then possible the Storm. So I think they’ll be very serious into this game, treating it very much like a semi final with a key point to prove. The test will be their defence, while their attack has been super (but against shit D teams) they to have leaked some points. They do also have a very good record when an underdog in these types of matchups.

The Panthers are an interesting watch and work in progress here for mine. Firstly away from Penrith Park and when distant (interstate) away their record and quality of performance really drops a level or 3 and of their last 22 distant away games they have only covered the line a 30%. They have come through a tough period post Origin as well and some very scratchy form, fair bit of luck in their wins over Warriors, Broncos and Roosters, well beaten by Storm and I though while winning still very scratchy last week against the Dragons and but for the fact the Dragons murdered with self error some key moments with the ball the game was far far closer. The Dragons also then late in the game put 2 soft trys through them. They will be better for Cleary having had a run and getting some key players back, but while they will be up and into it unlike the Rabbits I don’t see this as being the week that they want to be full tilt.

I have very little between them given the game is at Suncorp. I expect the Rabbits are pretty serious about this one and I can tip them as its also likely the right time to get this opponent. With the factors of Panthers distant away v a top of table opponent, and that opponent also having a very healthy record when an underdog I also then want to be with the plus position.

+2.5 Tigers v Sharks – Rockhampton

Ground: Rockhampton
49.5 Total Points (market position)

We have a few low games in a row here. Really hard to work through this game, Tigers last 3 wins all at the bottom of the table and with no real conviction, the offering against the Cowboys last week was just horrible, a very low game full of error and poor execution. The Cows are also very poor at present and for them to get within 8 late in the game says enough. The Tigers are also horrible when faced with some pressure and chasing and or competing with points, and the Sharks can make that happen here. The Sharks tho also off another rubbish game where had the Knights been half decent would have put them away by 3 tries. Small lean to Sharks due to them having some ball shit and attack that can turn this game a bit sideways and put some pressure on the Tigers (which they don’t like).

+13.5 Bulldogs v Knights – Robina

Ground: Robina
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Again an ugly match up, but what did look to stand out here was a lack of fluent attack and points. The Bulldogs have lost 8 straight and in all but one of those game never looked likely, if not just looked pathetic. The one game they did have periods of spark and some positive play was when Thompson last played so he then becomes a key in with his return. But as I have said for weeks where do there points come from, the 1, 6, 7 and 9 are just hopeless regardless of who they put there, the whole approach needs a massive bypass. 10 pts last week, 16 the week prior, 6 the week prior and a season average of 12 pts per game, its just a complete mess and very poorly coached in a time when attack and points in a fast game speed should occur far more easily. The Knights had zero excuse last week, best possible list playing all the right combinations yet were just shit, error after error with the ball, just so scrappy it was a game they should have won easily. I’m not convinced that everything is harmonious in their team set up, 2 good players signed elsewhere this week, some of the noise out of the place has been on and off poor. I just don’t see how the game gets to 54 points, even if the Knights win by a bit of a margin unless they compound in defence. Knights to win, happy to be with a points under position.

-16.5 Eels v Cowboys – Robina

Ground: Robina
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Well, what do we have here. On paper based on their overall performances to date this season and the strengths of the recent form lines I have to have the Eels warm favs here and at least at 16.5. Should they have a decent crack here and find a bit of form and combination then they should well win comfortably. Clearly they have been in free fall and well exposed through the last 4 weeks, more so the last 3 leaking 28, 40 then 56 against teams at the pointy end of the table. I think they have a number of issues, overall been well exposed for some poor defence, again had their edges exposed, lacked quality go forward and overall lost all confidence. It will take some doing this week buy Arthur to freshen up their attitude and lighten things up into game day and have them play well. But they face a weak opponent who can quickly roll over and also leak points, so it might well be the right week.

Cowboys well have now lost their last 9 straight and are at their worst when away and come off a horrible game reference last week (Tigers). If I was them I’d be looking to just play as much ball movement and attack as possible and really look to shake things up early, possibly create a couple of early tries and look to put some pressure on the mental fabric of the Eels, and drag them out of any comfort and into a game of touch footy and scoreboard pressure. Highly unlikely, but that’s imo the way for them to upset things here.

Looks a trick game, Eels certainly should win and likely cover the line, happy to leave well alone.

+8.5 Dragons v Roosters – Toowoomba

Ground: Toowoomba
49.5 Total Points (market position)

Thought the markets had under rated the Dragons and over rated the Roosters here and that this was a far closer contest. The Dragons have been through all the BBQ gate issues and step down team selections and alike through the last 5 or so weeks but they now have all but the best possible line up that they could now field except for Hunt. No doubt the captain is a major out and has by far been their best player this season, but with Amone to start at #6, Dufty back at #1 and a couple of forwards back this week this can certainly be a far far stronger offering than they have put up since their last win 5 games ago. Amone clearly looks a talent and can bring some unstructured stuff that can make things happen, as can Dufty, those two at least bring the potential of some speed and strike and points. I expect a much much better offering than recent weeks, and off 5 straight loses there has to be far greater desperation to need a win again for all concerned.

The Roosters showed last week that unless the opposition lay down they to are somewhat pack with the mid table in capability, especially when as they are again here with out a few key individuals like Radley and Crichton. They get JWH back but these two forward outs have been key in form leaders and with all of the issues that they have had with injury outs this season they are now well depleted in experience and depth. They were there to be beat by the Broncos last week and also have a poor record when well favoured with a 10 or more point line over this season.

These two also have struggled with points, and at their best of recent weeks either scrap their way through a game and or show a few periods or reasonable defence, and given the current vogue of referring changes I’m not convinced that there are a lot of points in this game and so again why I thing the plus position is the advantage. Think the line is too big and the plus looks a a likely great advantage and position to the Dragons on a neutral ground.

+4.5 Broncos v Warriors – Brisbane

Ground: Brisbane
52.5 Total Points (market position)

Thought the Broncos looked over rated here and I was much wider than the markets. The Broncos are 5 wins in total and while they come off a good offering last week once again have another forced change in the halves losing Gamble and some questions over Kelly being 100% fit, these two have been responsible for the Broncos playing their best footy and one if not both out certainly weakens them considerably. The Warriors have won 8 games including now their last 3 and much of that due to getting key players back and their list has far more quality and experience than that of the Broncos for mine. The form through those last 3 wins is scratchy against low table teams, but at least they have been able to (and know how to) put wins together, they also have some key strike in their 7, 6 and 1.

The Broncos normally need a lot to go their way to win, and have their halves combination broken up, the Warriors have greater experience and leaders amongst their list, I think they can win and do so by more than 2 points.


Longer Term Recommended Bet List

Bet 6 units Storm to win Premiership $2.60
Clearly now the benchmark and the one to beat, Panthers likely to have longer term injury questions over Cleary (shoulder) and Luai (knee), Storm have key depth, confidence and quality combinations

Bet 3 units Eagles to make Top 4 $5.00
Think the price is way too high, Eagles have a very soft run home with only 2 games vs Top 4 contenders then a further 10 vs bottom 8 sides/contenders. Clearly they are very reliant on the fitness of Tom Trbojevic which is factored into the odds and my bet, but if he plays most of these games they give this a huge shake

Bet 3 units Raiders to miss Top 8 $2.00 Topsport $1.95 Tab
Lost 5 straight and should have been beat by 16th placed Bulldogs last week, not a happy crew from everything I hear, think bottom of the 8 gets very competitive in second half of the yr and have to take them on

Bet 4 units Panthers Minor Premiers $3.30 Topsport
Market is also available at Tab and Sportsbet $3.00
Undefeated after 3 rounds, quality longer home record and have depth in key positions, my numbers right now suggest they now appear as $2.00 chance

Bet 5 units Titans top QLD team $1.77 Topsport
Market is also available at Ladbrokes $1.75 and Sportsbet $1.67
We have a small interest speculator on Titans Top 4, think this is a positive way to cover our stake longer term. Three way contest, what we are betting is the final table position between Titans and Cowboys and I’m confident on the Titans progression late last yr (won last 5 games), key signings, positive off season + quality coach that this is the right play. Should Cam Smith turn up mid season as I expect then icing on the cake!

Bet 6 units Storm Top 4 $1.85
Looks an excellent longer term anchor bet, Bellamy’s record of top 4 finishes each season is unparalleled, as is his ability to replace players and bring his team back to the top. They will win near 90% of home games (Melb or Sunshine Coast), have near the best D once again and likely finish top two.

Bet 3 units Broncos most losses $5.00
Expected / rate them closer to $2.00, this price looks very very generous. The squad is weaker than last yr (and they finished with the spoon), start the season with key injury outs, question mark on whether Coach is up to this task and have a hard draw.

Bet 2 units Titans to make Top 4 $4.50
Think the Coach is quality, started to put his imprimatur in them late into the season with some very positive and exciting play/results. They have purchased astutely, top 4 might be a reach (you can save top 8 at $1.85 if you wish) but I just see a) lot of up side and b) a comp with potential long tail. They look the team with the flashing red light for me this season. There is some $5.00 available in some places.


Market Odds Comparison – a quick link to assist with the available odds across many possible providers – nrl-odds-comparisons

Staking: The recommended units bet is indicated next to each bet in the above bet list. The base bet is 1 to 5 units (and is also a reflection of confidence. Everyone chooses to bet in different bet sizes, from differing betting banks (the personal funds they put aside for betting). Some will bet $20 per bet, some $200 per bet. So as to keep things simple and clear for everyone to follow we then talk in bet units. Our advice is to decide what size betting unit is likely to work for you and call this your betting unit, remembering that you may have approx. 5 to 10 units of recommended outlay per week per sport and that you also run the risk of losing.

Game Notes Preparation: FYI, with the introduction of Thursday night games in recent years it is now near impossible with the work and list of things that I chose to do to have all game previews written and finished until late in each week or early Saturday am. With the final team lists not announced until Tuesday afternoon, which I then re rate against (current performance, key ins and outs / final team lists and then look to handicap each up coming game then consider a range of form and match up factors towards final potential bets and written game previews. In short with team lists announced late Tuesday that then leaves two days to work through these tasks. I will focus the first preview notes at any game that has a recommended bet so that any key factors and reasoning is then known in advance, and then be working through each game there after in order of day and time (from Thursday onward).

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