Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 23: Hanging on by the fingernails

Last weekend didn’t quite go as I anticipated (think Panthers and Raiders – for different reasons), so we’re still chewing fingernails as we confront Round 23. And it’s within the top eight that we find the greatest pressure. After a day of ‘stickies’ in Rutherglen, I feel sufficiently fortified to make the following bold predictions:



The Broncos v Rabbitohs clash takes on huge proportions for both sides. The Bunnies can’t afford to drop another game otherwise they can kiss potential top four status goodbye. The Broncos, still pretenders in my humble opinion, could drop out of the eight completely with a loss. Neither side gives much cause for confidence but I think South Sydney have more to offer, especially in the halves, and will win.



The Raiders, the biggest winners from last weekend, will hang on to third spot regardless of the result of their match against the Sea Eagles but would love to consolidate their top four spot. Perhaps their home ground advantage will be enough but beware Manly (and the Trbojevic brothers in particular) as potential spoilers. I won’t be surprised to see the visitors win as Canberra will have a challenge to get themselves ‘up’ again after their win over Storm in Melbourne.



Surprise packets the Eels have the potential to go top four if results fall their way. But they had better not take the Bulldogs too easily as the Canterbury lads have been going well of late and could help shape the lower levels of the eight by the end of the minor round. The Eels for me.



The Panthers are down to the quick of their nails and will be close to their knuckles if they can’t put the struggling Cowboys away in Townsville. The Townsville lads might do it for Matt Scott who suffered a mild stroke on Sunday but they’ll need to improve heaps to mount a challenge. The Panthers simply can’t play as badly again, so I expect them to keep their faint hopes alive for another week.



I expect the Sharks to hold on to their finals place when they meet the Warriors. The Cronulla lads have the talent to burn and must click soon, even if they can’t do better than seventh. The Warriors also have skills across the park but just can’t find consistency. See you next year.



Wests Tigers v Knights will officially end the season of the loser while the winner will still be breathing – just. Expect Robbie Farah to play in spite of injury a la Cooper Cronk. But the Knights looked good last weekend and may have played themselves into form. Pearce and Ponga got their mojo back and that spells trouble for the Tigers even though they are at home.



In the other matches, the Storm will annihilate the Titans and the Roosters will slay the Dragons to ensure that Storm are minor premiers and the Roosters will finish second.



So let’s go with Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Sharks, Knights, Roosters, Storm and Sea Eagles.



Now, where’s the muscat?



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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at

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