The first round of the 2023 NRL Premiership season was filled with close matches and surprising upsets, including the reigning premiers going down at home.
The Edge of the Crowd writers have come together to review each match and have submitted their votes for the Dally M predictor for the 2023 season.
Parramatta Eels 12 Melbourne Storm 16
3 - Harry Grant - Melbourne Storm
2 - J’maine Hopgood - Parramatta Eels
1 - Christian Welch - Melbourne Storm
The 2023 NRL Premiership season was kickstarted with a bang with the Melbourne Storm charging home in golden point against the Parramatta Eels.
The Eels started strong holding Melbourne scoreless in the first half however the cracks began to show in the opening 20 minutes of the second half with Nick Meaney and Young Tonumaipea crossing the try line in the 46th and 62nd minutes.
Thanks to Meaney's accurate conversions Melbourne was able to send the match to golden point. Harry Grant sealed the match, running the ball from dummy half in Melbourne's second set to score a well-earned try.
New Zealand Warriors 20 Newcastle Knights 12
3 - Tohu Harris - New Zealand Warriors
2 - Wayde Egan - New Zealand Warriors
1 - Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad - New Zealand Warriors
The New Zealand Warriors' first game at home in 2023 could not have gotten off to a worse start with the Newcastle Knights' Lachlan Fitzgibbon scoring inside the opening two minutes.
However, Andrew Webster had to be happy with the way his side bounced back with Edward Kosi and Bunty Afoa each crossing the line before the 30-minute mark to put the home side back in front.
Both sides scored early in the second half but it took heroism from the Warriors in the final 15 minutes to prevent the Knights from crossing the line again while the match hung in the balance at 14-12. It was Wayde Egan who clinched it for the home side scoring in the 73rd minute and Shaun Johnson kicking his second conversion of the night to put the Warriors eight points up.
Penrith Panthers 12 Brisbane Broncos 13
3 - Adam Reynolds - Brisbane Broncos
2 - Dylan Edwards - Penrith Panthers
1 - Liam Martin - Penrith Panthers
The first major upset of 2023 came on a wet night at BlueBet Stadium with the Brisbane Broncos. The Penrith Panthers opened the scoring seven minutes in when Dylan Edwards, Liam Martin and Nathan Cleary combined down the right side with Edwards handing the ball off to Stephen Crichton to cross the line.
The Broncos didn't stay quiet for long with Herbie Farnworth crossing the line twice in four minutes thanks to assists from Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mann.
It was Reynolds' composure that stood out as the rain started to fall outclassing the reigning premiers and putting away a field goal in the 70th minute to put the Broncos seven points up.
Soni Luke and the Panthers were able to get one last word in, in the 76th minute to bring the game within a point, however, Cleary's two-point field goal attempt fell short.
Manly Sea Eagles 31 Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 6
3 - Daly Cherry-Evans - Manly Sea Eagles
2 - Reed Mahoney - Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
1 - Reuben Garrick - Manly Sea Eagles
The Manly Sea Eagles' strong form from pre-season carried over into the first round of the 2023 season, Tom Trobjevic opened the scoring 16 minutes in but the Canterbury Bulldogs were quick to fire back when Reed Mahoney crossed the line in the 20th minute to level the score.
The scores wouldn't stay level for long with Reuben Garrick scoring a try before halftime.
It was Daly Cherry-Evans who dominated in the second half, crossing the line three times and kicking a field goal in the 71st minute. Cherry-Evans' performance was only bolstered by Garrick's perfect record kicking all five of his conversions for the match.
North Queensland Cowboys 19 Canberra Raiders 18
3 - Reece Robson - North Queensland Cowboys
2 - Emre Guler - Canberra Raiders
1 - Tom Starling - Canberra Raiders
It was a match defined by two halves at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium with the North Queensland Cowboys putting up a dominant performance in the first half.
Murray Taulagi was the first to cross the line 15 minutes in followed up by Scott Drinkwater just three minutes later. The Canberra Raiders struggled, defending on their goal line for much of the first half.
The Cowboys were denied a third try in the 25th minute but the Raiders weren't able to shut them down for long with Drinkwater scoring a second in the 34th minute. The momentum shifted in the dying minutes of the half when Emre Guler crossed the line in the 37th minute to set the score at 18-6 at the half.
Canberra came out in the second half like a completely different side, the attacking pressure forcing North Queensland to make mistakes on their line, resulting in Tom Starling and Jack Wighton scoring within four minutes of each other to level the scores.
The Raiders remained on top for most of the second half however it was Chad Townsend for the Cowboys that clinched the match scoring a field goal in the 75th minute.
Cronulla Sharks 18 South Sydney Rabbitohs 27
3 - Lachlan Ilias - South Sydney Rabbitohs
2 - Cameron Murray - South Sydney Rabbitohs
1 - Campbell Graham - South Sydney Rabbitohs
The South Sydney Rabbitohs made a huge statement in their opening match of the season against the Cronulla Sharks, overcoming a depleted bench and errors, sending out a warning to the rest of the league.
That warning came in the form of the young halfback Lachlan Ilias who denied the Sharks' Ronaldo Mulitalo a try at one end and then a set and a half later opening the scoring at the other.
It seemed as though the life was briefly sucked out of the Sharks, however, errors from the Rabbitohs and two tries being denied kept the Sharks in the mix in the first half, with both sides only managing to put 12 points on the board in the first half.
South Sydney didn't allow the late try in the first half to shift the momentum in the second with Campbell Graham and Ilias combining on the right edge, highlighting that the Rabbitohs won't just be looking to the left edge combination of Cody Walker and Alex Johnston in 2023.
Graham scored again in the 65th minute but the Sharks weren't going down quietly with Teig Wilton scoring in the 71st leaving room for a fightback. But it was too little too late and Latrell Mitchell added to the Sharks' pain by scoring a field goal in the 79th minute.
Dolphins 28 Sydney Roosters 18
3 - Jamayne Isaako - Dolphins
2 - Mark Nicholls - Dolphins
1 - Jeremy Marshall-King - Dolphins
Expectations for the Dolphins were not particularly high heading into the side's first match against the Sydney Roosters however they managed to do the impossible in what will go down as one of the great NRL debuts.
The Roosters shined early with Joseph-Aukuso Suaali scoring in the 10th minute and Drew Hutchinson keeping them ahead in the 18th, shortly after Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scored the Dolphins' first NRL try minutes earlier.
The scores were level at halftime thanks to Mark Nicholls scoring an eighth career try in the 35th minute. The Dolphins only built on that momentum in the second half scoring three tries in 10 minutes including a double from Jamayne Isaako who looked at ease on the wing.
The Roosters went a player down in the 62nd minute, however, Daniel Tupou took action scoring in the 66th minute to put the Roosters within 10 points but as the clock ticked down there wasn't enough time left to prevent the second major upset of the opening round.
Wests Tigers 10 Gold Coast Titans 22
3 - David Fifita - Gold Coast Titans
2 - Adam Doueihi - Wests Tigers
1 - Alexander Brimson - Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast Titans capped off a winning weekend for the Queensland teams, taking down the Wests Tigers to kick off their 2023 season.
Adam Doueihi put the Tigers on the board early thanks to a penalty, however, a double from Phillip Sami in the opening half put the Titans up at the break.
The Tigers lead every attacking stat for the match but their defensive structure continued to prove easy for the Titans to exploit with Alexander Brimson and Sam McIntyre getting on the board.
Doueihi and Daine Laurie were able to spark the Tigers back to life in the second half scoring two tries inside 15 minutes however, the inability to convert from an angle kept the Tigers to 10 comfortably handing the win to the Titans.
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