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NRL Expert Tips | Preview | Round 26 | 2023

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Experienced pro MrG aka Gerard Condon provides expert NRL tips and content each week for our Reading The Play followers and subscribers.

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MrG’s handicaps, recommended plays and preview notes for this weeks NRL action

NRL Round 23

 

Recommended Bet List

1.5 units Panthers -19.5 $1.90

Quality record at home, Eels looked to have all but turned it up, this their last game and leaking way too many soft points each week 

3.5 units Storm -18.5 $1.90 BB

Storm are best at home (and very good), playing for top 4 spot, dominant record over Titans, visitors plagued with long list of injury outs

1.5 units same game multi any time try Xavier Coates (Storm) x any time try William Warbrick (Storm) $2.67

Expect Storm can play to their outside edges here at home against an opponent leaking points

2.5 units Bulldogs-Eagles over 46.5 $1.90

Forecast rain has not eventuated, dry track and now sunny conditions, expect defence will be optional for these two today as then have nothing to play for, ad lib touch footy ball movement looks the way

BB – Indicates Best Bet

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

My Game Handicaps for this round

-19.5 Panthers v Eels

-16.5 Warriors v Dragons

+9.5 Dolphins v Cowboys

-22.5 Storm v Titans

-16.5 Roosters v Tigers

+10.5 Raiders v Broncos

+5.5 Bulldogs v Eagles

-1.5 Knights v Sharks

Game Tips

Panthers by 24

Warriors by 16

Cowboys by 8

Storm by 26

Roosters by 18

Broncos by 16

Eagles by 6

Sharks by 4

-19.5 Panthers v Eels

Penrith

-19.5 market line

43.5 total points (market position)

Panthers have won 5 of last 8 v Eels

Panthers have won 3 of last 4 v Eels at Penrith

Eels have lost 5 of last 7 games, those 2 wins v bottom of table opponents

In their last 7 games the Eels are now conceding av. 36 points a week

Panthers have won their last 8 games at home

Eels have not covered the line at their last 7 games

Eels poor record at line as an underdog, just 3 from last 16

Eels have the bye next week so this then becomes their last game for the season, and so with nothing to play for, multiple outs and some horrible leaking defence happy to oppose them here. I expected that back at home last week they could offer something yet as the first 30 minutes unfolded they just started to crumble, and then get worse, once again leaking big points and much of it soft. That’s now conceding 36 points a week across their last 7 outings, into an away game at a tough venue against the benchmark for their final game..?

Panthers have what looks to be 3 being rested, but still offer a strong list. Their record here is excellent, record at the line also very good, clearly the best defence and they have gears which they can lift into as required We saw this again last week where in to and through the second half they put their foot down to draw away for a comfortable win and a wide margin and covering a 20 point line.

I mark this somewhere similar on paper to the market handicap, but could be stronger on the Panthers at home and harsher on the Eels current record, outs and leaking defence. With the Eels then playing their final game I want to be with the Panthers 4 try margin winners if not more.

-16.5 Warriors v Dragons

Auckland

-16.5 market line

49.5 total points (market position)

Warriors have won 6 of last 8 at Mt Smart

Dragons have won 6 of their last 9 v Warriors

Dragons have lost their last 12 games when distant travel

Dragons away record is horrible, they have lost their last 20 games when an away underdog

Warriors have failed to cover the line at 3 of their last 4 games

Dragons have covered the line 5 of the last 6 times they have been 12.5 or higher underdogs

Warriors just haven’t looked to have that real killer hunger in their attitude and play over the last few weeks, I left them alone when at Hamilton a few weeks ago (Tigers) but expected much more back at home in Auckland last week. I still think they got stiffed with a try call against them, but aside from this they still conceded 22 points (at home) to a team with some key outs and little to play for. They look short at least one big middle (have two outs at present) and certainly are being exposed on their outside edges with their 3 edge players on both sides (notably their left) being caught short and or with poor comms and technique and letting way too many line breaks and or try opportunities through. 

This is not an ideal set up for the Dragons, still have a list of outs plus a poor distant travel record, but they have been very plucky at just digging in each week an fighting through a game. being away here and the end of season in sight I think they could be soundly beaten, but their record at these longer lines has just been way too competitive.

Warriors look well placed, on paper should be winning by 3 or more tries and cover this line, but they are on trust for me now, I’m certainly not convinced that their D efforts and attitude is anywhere near as tight as it was 6 to 8 weeks ago. Happy to stay out. The game looks to have points in it, but the total looks well found at 50.

+9.5 Dolphins v Cowboys

+9.5 market line

49.5 total points (market position)

Dolphins have lost 9 of their last 10 games

Dolphins have covered the line at 5 of their last 7 games

6 of the last 7 Dolphins games have gone points under

Cowboys away record overall this season poor at just 2 wins from 12 away games

Cowboys away line record also poor, covered the line at just 2 of last 8 way games

Didn’t think there was a lot to like or trust on this one. Cowboys have fallen off a cliff over the last 4 weeks, the surprise loss to the Titans the start then of 3 defeats and now their season finals hopes hang by a thread. Holmes and again Nanai are still missing, play away, they were very poor last week and just didn’t aim up as i expected off a bye freshen up, at home  and with a chance to sure up a visit to September. Completely out played by the Sharks, worst still the attitude and resolve in defence was very poor. We keep expecting that on paper, off where they were 8 weeks ago that they will offer something so much better, but it doesn’t turn up..

The Dolphins on the other hand while not winning still do have a crack each week, Bennett seems to be a master of getting their heads right and them having a dig. They had a long list of outs last week yet took that game to the 79th minute and to be honest were very unlucky not to win, now get a few back (but again further late changes / outs look likely), they’ve have liked playing at Suncorp Stadium and maybe a prime time game gets a bit more of a lift out of them as well?

On paper I think the 10 between them looks right, and I would want to side with the Cowboys winning but 10 or more, but just no trust on them aiming up or the Dolphins completely laying down. A game I wanted to pass.

-22.5 Storm v Titans

Melbourne

-20.5 market line

49.5 total points (market position)

Storm have won their last 7 at home

Storm have won 7 of last 8 v Titans when in Melbourne

Storm have won last 4 v Titans 13+ when in Melbourne

Titans are just 2 wins from last 10 when away from GC / Bris

Titans have covered the line at just 12 of last 30 when interstate

Titans now average conceding 28 pts per week

Storm have won their last 7 at home at this ground and have shown through recent months they are a different attitude and team performance here. Also being two weeks out from semi finals and the return of some internal competition for spots I am expecting they are also pretty switched on.

Titans have even more key injury outs and lose Campbell who has been by far their best and also their key attack strike. Have to then question if Foran can get his busted body through 80mins, and the depth of quality across their total line up and bench. Their away record has also been poor, losing and conceding big scores, and its equally poor longer term here in Melbourne.

Storm last two outings here have produced high 40’s and decisive offerings, against a likely weaker opponent I expect they can do the same again here. Also expect their back 5, in particular their two wingers should be able to dominate.

-16.5 Roosters v Tigers

-16.5 market line

45.5 total points (market position)

Roosters have won 4 of their last 5 games

Roosters have won 16 of last 17 and 20 of their last 22 v Tigers

Roosters have also dominated the line v Tigers covering 21 of last 24

The last time these two met (2022) the Roosters won 72-6

Tigers have won 1 (v Dolphins last week) of last 11 games

Tigers have the worst attack in the comp av. Just 16.5 pts per game

Roosters in getting some player depth back and some of their attitude right have improved through the last 3 to 4 outings, plus they also seem to be getting the right opponent at the right time, as they look to here. Tedseco out blunts their strike a little, and interesting to see how Walker is used and for how long on his return.

Tigers list still with key outs including Brooks, and very reliant on just a few individuals, off a final win breakthrough after so many losing weeks last week do we then see more of a relaxing let down here? It’s hard to see their defence holding the Roosters for long periods.

Roosters walking a fine line of a potential finals spot chase and their overall efforts and attitude has been good, certainly expect that they are again too strong here. I think 18 between them looks about right, I lean to the Roosters covering it, but not a game I wanted to play with, if the Tigers do play a bit of ad lib attack and can convert 2 to 3 tries then a 18 pt gap starts to become a decent chase.

+10.5 Raiders v Broncos

+11.5 market line

45.5 total points (market position)

Raiders have won 4 of last 5 v Broncos

Raiders 3 wins from their last 6 games have been against the 3 teams at the base of the competition table (Bulldogs, Tigers, Dragons)

Broncos have won 9 of their last 10 games

Broncos sit 2nd in D this season

Broncos when away from Brisbane have covered the line at 8 of last 10

Broncos have the 3rd best record (all teams) at the line this season (14/22)

Broncos look to have one eye on the next few weeks so bit tricky to work out the level of motivation they might bring here. Reynolds and Carrigan both not playing certainly brings this close, and away leg, cold Canberra evening, and what does the Panthers loss and the resting or outs of these two players impact have across the attitude o the rest of the line up? Anything like the Broncos of the last 3 to 4 weeks they’d be winning this comfortably and slicing this Raiders offering up.

Raiders are hard to like but do seem to have a liking for playing the Broncos through recent match ups and did beat them in a major upset earlier this year. Their last 6 weeks has been pretty poor, and last week it wasn’t till late that they got over the Bulldogs last, and thats a horrible form line. They have a few things to play for here, but very hard to trust.

The 10 between them looks about right, I still expect the Broncos to be winning by 12 or more, but given the Panthers Thursday night loss the Broncos only just have to win here so its hard to be banking on them really putting their foot to the floor? Again, happy to stay out.

+5.5 Bulldogs v Eagles

+4.5 market line

46.5 total points (market position)

Wet weather and possible heavy storms are forecast

Bulldogs at their last 5 games now conceding av. 38 pts a contest, their last 10 av. conceding 45 per game

Bulldogs have lost 8 of their last 10

Eagles have won 8 of last 9 v Bulldogs

Eagles recent record at line as the fav is poor, just 1 line cover from last 6

The weather forecast is for heavy wet conditions, and if so then this ground can get wet and certainly quite slippery and so this then would be a slug fest.

Ugly game, best left alone, small lean to Eagles.

Update – the forecast rain has not eventuated, dry track and now sunny conditions, expect defence will be optional for these two today as then have nothing to play for, ad lib touch footy ball movement looks the way

As suggested above no real opinion on who turns up or wins or at the line, but with the dry conditions and a 2pm game do expect we then see attack and points

-1.5 Knights v Sharks

-3.5 market line

44.5 total points (market position)

Knights have won their last 7 straight

Knights have won 6 of last 7 at home

Sharks have won 11 of last 15 v Knights

Sharks have won 5 of last 8 in Newcastle

Both Knights (2nd) and Sharks (5th) have good records at the line this season

Sharks sit 1st in attack scoring av. 28 pts a game, Knights 4th av. 26 pts a game

Looked a rippa game but now likely to drop a level or two with the late key outs. Hastings to be omitted I believe, Knights have another few who are unlikely but nothing yet confirmed, and then the Sharks now have Hynes as a late out.

I thought the early position was closer to zero, but now I would be likely 4.0, so the 7.5 looks generous but balanced by the fact that Hynes has been so key to the Sharks quality performances.

Both have been very good through the last 3 or so weeks, the Sharks have had some quality attitude and resolve with tough wins in particular Rabbits in Perth and then Cowboys in Townsville, they will be tough here. Knights have also been very good, last week (Rabbits) one of their best and I think they left a few out there and it should well have been a wider margin, 7 straight wins takes some doing especially in turning your whole season around.

The final named teams and any further outs become key, but on what we know now have to be with the Knights, at home and if their spine with Clune stays in tact then some advantage. With the late news of Hynes out happy to stay out, hope the Sharks might bounce up, and hope we still get the cracking contest that this originally looked.

NRL Draw and Results Here

All Current and Historical NRL and rugby league results Here

Staking

Our likely weekly outlay is 6 to 10 units, with the recommended units bet indicated next to each bet in the bet list. The base bet is 1 to max 5 units (and this 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.

Handicapping a game and my approach

First and foremost I work off what I see. I watch every game, some multiple times and keep various notes, having coached for 16 yrs I look at a game a little more differently than most and am looking at how the play and patterns unfold, strengths and weakness.

I then also work to a set of rating numbers which are influenced off what I am seeing and then various parameters. I rate every team out of 100 to start the season and re rate these numbers every Monday based on current form, win loss and performance to both my numbers and the markets.

Then for each individual game I work through what looks the potential match up. Team A number, plus or minus key team changes, plus any home ground advantage vs Team B number, plus or minus key team changes, then factor in away and or travel record and if there has been a decided advantage one way or the other in the match up. I than arrive at a number between the two teams.

The market setters are doing the same when they put their positions up, in the background they have a few key analysts doing a similar number approach to then set what they think looks and approximate gap between the two teams with a lean to creating a likely market position that might attract punters on both sides.

Home Ground. As a guide these days I work off an approx number of 2.0 pts for home ground, as long as it is a true home ground advantage. 3 or more yrs ago this was higher but with full time professional teams the gap has closed. Some teams then tho will have a higher home advantage and or more advantage if playing teams doing distant travel – it is never a single position fits all.

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).

Then for each individual game I work through what looks the potential match up. Team A number, plus or minus key team changes, plus any home ground advantage vs Team B number, plus or minus key team changes, then factor in away and or travel record and if there has been a decided advantage one way or the other in the match up. I than arrive at a number between the two teams.

The market setters are doing the same when they put their positions up, in the background they have a few key analysts doing a similar number approach to then set what they think looks and approximate gap between the two teams with a lean to creating a likely market position that might attract punters on both sides.

Home Ground. As a guide these days I work off an approx number of 2.0 pts for home ground, as long as it is a true home ground advantage. 3 or more yrs ago this was higher but with full time professional teams the gap has closed. Some teams then tho will have a higher home advantage and or more advantage if playing teams doing distant travel – it is never a single position fits all.

NRL – MrG – Reading The Play

Having coached at a senior level for 16 years including 3 years on the coaching staff of an NRL club Gerard Condon is a long term avid student of the game. He’s coached sides to win titles at a senior level, run the football arm of a successful district club, managed professional players and worked in various development roles, so it’s fair to say the game of Rugby League is certainly in his blood and supports an experienced and unique offering.

Mr G’s NRL previews and betting tips combine this knowledge and ‘read’ of the current weekly form with a statistical and betting analysis to provide his followers with a unique and successful approach. He spends hours each week watching and reviewing each and every game assessing the strengths and weakness of the form to then weigh against that of the betting markets. His previews and betting tips have been published on the internet via two sports forums for 7 years prior to his public offering through Reading The Play.

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