‘Hard to ignore’ Broncos reality as Sharks star tipped to explode: Legends’ NRL finals verdict


The 2023 NRL finals series gets underway on Friday night, with Brisbane looking to overcome a horror recent record against Melbourne in the first qualifying final.

The majority of Fox League’s experts are tipping the Broncos’ woes against the Storm to continue… but what do they make of the rest of this weekend’s games?

Read on for foxsports.com.au’s expert tips for finals week one!

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COOPER CRONK

BRONCOS v STORM

This game has all the ingredients to be one of the best finals games we’ve ever seen. I’m expecting Melbourne to win in a tight one. They are proven performers at this time of year. Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster will be pulling the strings in attack and the injection of Ryan Papenhuyzen off the bench adds another threat that could prove the difference.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

It’s very hard to go past the Panthers at home, especially with Shaun Johnson missing for the Warriors. However, if anyone can cause an upset it’s Andew Webster. He knows all of Penrith’s strengths and weaknesses and I’m sure he’ll have a trick up his sleeve to try and upset the reigning Premiers.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

The Roosters have managed to turn their season around and have all the momentum heading into the finals. If they continue to play their confident style, they’ll be too good for the Sharks on Saturday.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

McDonald Jones Stadium will be rocking for this one! The Knights will have too much firepower for the Raiders and should get the victory at home. If it’s a scrappy affair I’m giving the Raiders a slight chance. But I expect the Knights’ winning run to continue on Sunday.

Cronk’s tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Knights

MICK ENNIS

BRONCOS v STORM

It’s hard to ignore Melbourne’s dominant record over the Broncos. They’ve had the best attack in the last month, scoring 39 points a game and they should win tonight by at least ten points. The big-game experience in their spine will be crucial at Suncorp. Munster, Grant and Hughes will steer the Storm into week two of the finals.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

Penrith’s loss to Parramatta in Round 26 was a blessing in disguise. It’s sharpened them right up and that was on full display in their first half demolition of the Cowboys last week. The loss of Shaun Johnson is a huge blow for the Warriors. I’m tipping the Panthers by 14.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

Cronulla has the home ground advantage, winning four of their last five at Shark Park. Nicho Hynes gets his opportunity to dominate a finals series and erase the memories of last year. He’s one of the most high profile players in the game, but underneath the superstar exterior is a fierce competitor with a fire in the belly to succeed. Sharks in a tight one.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

The Knights are on a roll and playing a brilliant brand of footy. They’ve got the whole town behind them and the atmosphere will be electric at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon. They’ve got great balance in their side with a tough, mobile pack and the skill and speed to do damage on the edges. The Raiders will miss Horsburgh and Papalii in the middle. Newcastle to get the win at home.

Ennis’ tips: Storm, Panthers, Sharks, Knights

BRAITH ANASTA

BRONCOS v STORM

Hoodoos exist for a reason and I’m tipping the Storm to beat the Broncos by a tight margin at Suncorp tonight. They’re timing their run to perfection heading into the finals, winning their last four games and scoring plenty of points. The Broncos will be up for it, but the big game players in Grant and Munster will get the job done for Melbourne.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

Penrith are simply too good at the moment and I expect them to win by a lot. The loss of Shaun Johnson makes it almost impossible for the Warriors. Home ground advantage, huge crowd and daytime conditions. Everything is pointing to a Panthers victory.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

This is by far the hardest game to pick. But confidence is king at this time of year and the Roosters have it in spades. The Walker-Keary combination is firing and the loss of JWH didn’t seem to hurt them against the Rabbitohs as much as I thought it would. Roosters to win.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

After nine straight wins the Knights are brimming with confidence. Ponga is carrying a shoulder injury, but it won’t matter on Sunday. He’s lighting up the competition and in career-best form. Jackson Hastings is also a big inclusion. The Raiders have been beaten convincingly by the Storm, Broncos and Sharks in the last month of the regular season. Newcastle should win comfortably at home.

Anasta’s tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Knights

GORDEN TALLIS

BRONCOS v STORM

Everyone talks about the hoodoo but I believe this is the best Broncos team since their last Premiership way back in 2006. It won’t be easy, but I’m tipping the Broncos to beat the Storm at home.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

It’s such a shock and a shame that Shaun Johnson won’t be out there for the Warriors. Penrith is the best defensive team in the competition and we all know defence wins premierships. A sold-out crowd at home on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers win this one.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

The Roosters should win by at least 12. It all comes down to momentum and the Roosters are humming. Despite beating the Raiders last week, the Sharks had the chance to prove themselves against the Knights in Round 26 and fell way short. Roosters for me.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

I watched Newcastle live against the Rabbitohs in Round 25 and was blown away. They were so impressive and look like the Knights of old. They’ve got the forwards to bruise you and the skill out the back to pile on the points. Their bargain buys have also added plenty of value. Knights to get the win at home.

Tallis’ tips: Broncos, Panthers, Roosters, Knights

GREG ALEXANDER

BRONCOS v STORM

I think this will be tight, but I’m tipping the Storm to beat the Broncos tonight. Harry Grant, Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster. They’ll get the job done for Melbourne.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

No Shaun Johnson will make it very difficult for the Warriors. The Panthers are at home and are in form. Panthers to win.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

The Roosters are on a roll. Sam Walker has added a lot of energy to their attack. Their big names are all in form, Victor Radley, Luke Keary and James Tedesco. Roosters to beat the Sharks.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

The Raiders are undermanned with Horsburgh and Papalii out which makes it very hard. Kalyn Ponga returns and he’s been in terrific form at the back end of the season. Newcastle to win at home.

Alexander’s tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Knights

NATHAN HINDMARSH

BRONCOS v STORM

The Broncos have been on fire but Craig Bellamy will have a plan to shut down Reece Walsh. I’m tipping Melbourne by four.

PANTHERS v WARRIORS

Penrith were so impressive against the Cowboys last week and the Warriors are going to struggle without Shaun Johnson. Panthers win.

SHARKS v ROOSTERS

Roosters to win. They’ve finally found form and their big guns are all firing at the right time of the year. They’ll be sending plenty of high balls Connor Tracey’s way and there’s a lot of pressure on Nicho Hynes.

KNIGHTS v RAIDERS

This is a tricky one. The Knights have won nine in a row, but I’m not sold just yet. I’m going to tip the Raiders. They’re a gutsy team and can be unpredictable in attack.

Hindmarsh’s tips: Storm, Panthers, Roosters, Raiders

FINAL VERDICT

Brisbane Broncos 1 — Melbourne Storm 4

Penrith Panthers 5 — Warriors 0

Cronulla Sharks 1 — Sydney Roosters 4

Newcastle Knights 4 — Canberra Raiders 1

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