2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 57/88 (65%) [Last week: 8/8]
Line Betting: 24/43 (56%) [Last week: 3/4]
2016 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 71%
Line Betting: 54%
(NOTE: If this is your first visit to the site, be sure to click here for an explanation of what we’re all about. Then, be sure to sign up at the bottom of the page to get betting tips sent straight to your inbox!)
NRL Round 12 Tips and Previews
Rabbitohs v Eels
Offense VOA: Rabbitohs -15.19% (13th), Eels -12.93% (12th)
Defense VOA: Rabbitohs 19.82% (12th), Eels -3.58% (9th)
It’s not often that a match between two mediocre sides outside the Top 8 would be the game of the round, but on this particular occasion, the NRL schedule-makers have got it exactly right. These two teams will meet on Friday night and battle it out to keep in touch with the Top 8, unaffected by State of Origin commitments.
Both sides are coming off positive performances, albeit in losing matches. The Rabbitohs acquitted themselves very well against the Storm, although admittedly the Storm never looked threatened. The Rabbitohs offense has been disappointing all season long, so it was no surprise they were unable to trouble the legendary Melbourne defense. However, their own defensive resolve was surprisingly impressive, keeping the Storm to just 14 points – their 3rd lowest total this year.
The Eels, for their part, took the Raiders the full 80 minutes before going down 22-16. We suggested in our preview that the Eels present a unique challenge to the Raiders, and they didn’t disappoint, actually leading for a long period in the second half. The only disappointment the Eels will take out of that match is a quad injury to centre Michael Jennings, that will see him miss about a month of football (which means it will be up to somebody else to not pass it to Semi Radradra).
As for how these teams match up, we think the Eels could trouble the Rabbitohs for all the same reasons that they troubled the Raiders. Like Canberra, the Rabbits like to attack off the back of a dominant forward pack, and the Eels are a difficult pack to get over the top of, ranking 3rd in RMCVOA (-4.81%). In matches where the Rabbitohs have won the metres battle, they average 4 tries per game; when they lose it, they average just 2.1.
Which is where we think this game gets decided. These two teams are so evenly matched, that there’s a struck match between them. Neither side are dominant in either attack or defense, so it’s likely to come down to a combination of field position, and who can convert their opportunities. We’re leaning to Parramatta, but it’s incredibly close.
Our tip: Eels
Warriors v Broncos
Offense VOA: Warriors -23.78% (14th), Broncos 1.69% (6th)
Defense VOA: Warriors 9.76% (10th), Broncos -14.39% (7th)
For as good a job as the NRL did in scheduling the Rabbitohs and Eels for Friday night, pitting the Warriors against the Broncos in an Origin affected round is an absolutely diabolical decision.
Granted, the NRL aren’t to know when they approve the scheduling who will and who won’t be picked in the Origin teams (for example, before a ball was kicked, it would have been assumed the Panthers would be missing at least 4 players to New South Wales – they have none), but even a cursory knowledge of rugby league history would tell you that the Warriors are typically among the least represented teams, whereas the Broncos are the most.
So now, we’re faced with the injustice of the Warriors being given a free kick against a Broncos side missing 6 players to Origin duties (plus Andrew McCullough), while the Broncos are likely to drop a match (which could have Top 4 implications down the line) to a team they’d ordinarily towel up by 40. Would it really have been that hard to pit the Broncos against an out-of-town team that’s likely to be heavily represented (like the Roosters, Sharks or Bulldogs for example), and the Warriors against a team like the Knights, Eels or Raiders?
ANYWAY. Lengthy rant notwithstanding, we’re not without hope for the Broncos. There are few other teams in the competition with the kind of depth that the Broncos possess, and it’s quite a luxury to be able to welcome seasoned first graders like Ben Hunt, Benji Marshall, David Mead, Travis Waddell and Jai Arrow into the team as replacements. Yes, logic tells us that with so much change in the Broncos lineup, the Warriors should win comfortably. But if we cast our minds back to Round 6, you’ll recall that the Panthers faced Souths without their entire starting backline (plus Bryce Cartwright, who’s since become their starting five-eighth), and lost by a solitary point. It should go without saying that the Broncos are a much better side than the Panthers; while the Rabbitohs are arguably better than the Warriors (although that particular conversation would typically be phrased as “who’s worse?”).
Nonetheless, we feel like the safest move is still to tip the Warriors. But to be clear, we’ll be rooting for the Broncos, if for no other reason than to preserve the competition’s integrity.
(Ed – we just realised that we accidentally went an entire Warriors preview without mentioning that the Warriors are terrible. So… the Warriors are terrible.)
Our tip: Warriors
Sharks v Bulldogs
Offense VOA: Sharks -4.05% (8th), Bulldogs -28.13% (15th)
Defense VOA: Sharks -34.55% (2nd), Bulldogs -26.56% (4th)
We’ll make this clear straight off the bat – both of these teams are so badly affected by Origin that our stats are likely useless, and it’s difficult to guess at who will hold up better.
The Sharks are missing Andrew Fifita, Jack Bird, James Maloney and Wade Graham. Relative to last week, that equates to a centre, five-eighth, prop and second-rower. For the Bulldogs, they’ll be without Brett Morris, David Klemmer and Josh Jackson (a winger, prop and second rower). So, the damage looks slightly worse for the Sharks, although it’s worth noting that the Bulldogs are already without five-eighth Josh Reynolds through injury, so the damage is likely a wash.
We expect the Sharks offense to feel the absence of their Origin stars moreso than the Bulldogs (firstly, because James Maloney is among the best halves in the league; and secondly, because how much worse could the Bulldogs’ offense get anyway?), and we’d expect the missing troops to bring these two teams closer together.
As a result, don’t be surprised if the match turns into a dire, defensive affair, as both teams employ a conservative offense and try to win the way they know best – defense, defense, defense. We give a slight edge to the Sharks, primarily because we prefer the quality of their replacements. But with so much upheaval sure to affect both team’s cohesion, it will come down to who looks the least disrupted – and we won’t know that until Saturday night.
Our tip: Sharks
Raiders v Roosters
Offense VOA: Raiders 14.45% (5th), Roosters 21.09% (4th)
Defense VOA: Raiders -16.73% (6th), Roosters -11.80% (8th)
We’re miffed about this matchup being in an Origin week as well, though not for any fault of the NRL match-makers (although it’s annually expected that the Raiders will be snubbed by Origin selectors, if someone had said prior to the season that they expected the Raiders to lose multiple players to representative duties, we’d have merely rolled our eyes, rather than declare them to be insane). No, our issue here is that the absence of five Roosters players to Origin (Aidan Guerra, Blake Ferguson, Boyd Cordner, Dylan Napa and Mitchell Pearce) means that the Raiders will start this match short favourites, where otherwise they’d have been rank outsiders. And we would have picked them anyway.
There’s very little benefit for us now in pushing the Raiders’ barrow – if the Raiders win, Roosters apologists will simply write it off as the result of having so many players on Origin duty. If the Raiders lose, we look incredibly stupid. But regardless, we firmly believe the Raiders are a better football team than the Roosters, and we’re frustrated that they’re not meeting at full strength to prove it.
Though the tries haven’t been coming as thick as fast as we’ve come to expect from the Raiders (in large part due to some pretty suspect last tackle options), they remain 6th in LBVOA (6.45%) and 1st in TBVOA (26.32%). It’s reasonable to expect that teams who make a lot of line breaks and break a lot of tackles will typically score a lot of tries. For this reason, we think the criticisms of their offense are misplaced, and with time and a larger sample size, tries will eventually follow.
And when they do, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Whereas the Roosters are notoriously hot and cold, the Raiders haven’t really been that cold; they’ve just not been capitalising on their opportunities.
Against an under-strength Roosters, the Raiders should hopefully have the opportunity to play themselves into a bit of form. We already mentioned how the Raiders like to win up the middle, and the absence of three key forwards for the Roosters should only help the Raiders play the kind of footy they want to play.
And as we said – if they don’t, we’re going to look mighty stupid.
Our tip: Raiders