The 2023 NRL season definitely hasn’t disappointed anyone. The two heavy hitters battle it out this year: Penrith Panthers and the Brisbane Broncos. Both teams have a rich history and a loyal fan base, but only one can lift the trophy on Sunday night. In this article, I will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and give you my predictions for who I think will win the 2023 NRL grand final.
Why I think Brisbane will get up:
- Brisbane has a strong record against Penrith, having won 11 of their last 15 meetings. This is including the 50-18 thrashing in round 19 this year.
- Brisbane has a bit more experienced and balanced squad. They have several players who have played in grand finals before, such as Adam Reynolds and Alex Glenn.
- Brisbane has a more dynamic and creative attack, led by the brilliant Cody Walker, who scored two tries and set up four more in the preliminary final against Manly.
- Brisbane has a more resilient and determined defence, having overcome a 12-0 deficit to beat Manly 36-16, while Penrith struggled to hold off a late comeback from Melbourne in their 10-6 win.
Why I think Penrith will get up:
- Penrith have been the most consistent team in the NRL for the past two seasons, winning back-to-back minor premierships and reaching their third consecutive grand final.
- Penrith have a formidable spine of Dylan Edwards, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary and Mitch Kenny, who have combined well to create scoring opportunities and control the game.
- Penrith have a strong forward pack led by James Fisher-Harris, Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin, who can match the physicality of the Broncos and provide go-forward for their backs.
- Penrith have a psychological edge over the Broncos, having beaten them twice in the regular season by narrow margins of 13-12 and 15-4, showing they can handle the pressure and close out tight games.
What do the bookies say?
The bookies have the Penrith Panthers as the clear favourites to win another NRL Grand Final, with Sportsbet offering up odds of 1.65 for the Panthers and 2.25 for the Brisbane Broncos.
The Panthers have been the dominant team in the competition for the past three seasons, winning 59 out of their 66 games since the start of 2021. They have also beaten the Broncos twice this year, by 20-12 in round 6 and by 34-16 in round 21.
The Broncos, on the other hand, have defied expectations to reach their first Grand Final since 2015, after finishing ninth last year. They have won eight of their last nine games, including a stunning 28-24 upset over the Melbourne Storm in the preliminary final.
The bookies also expect a high-scoring game, with the over/under line set at 46.5 point . The Panthers have averaged 29.8 points per game this season, while the Broncos have averaged 24.4 points per game. Both teams have also scored more than 40 points in their last two games.
The other thing to consider is the weather playing a factor. It’s forecast for Sunday at Olympic Park to hit 36 degrees, which would make it the hottest Grand Final day ever. This could affect the stamina and performance of both teams, especially in the second half.
Both teams have shown great form throughout the season, and have definitely earned their spot in the decider. However, based on their recent performances, head-to-head record, and injury updates, I believe that the Penrith Panthers have a slight edge over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos, on the other hand, have struggled with consistency and discipline, and have lost some key players to injury. I reckon that the Penrith Panthers will win the NRL grand final by a margin of 10 points or more. If you are looking for a safe and profitable bet, it’s fair to say the Panthers will be lifting the trophy on Sunday.