2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 38/56 (68%) (Last week: 6/8)
2018 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: (58%) Line Betting: (46%)
2017 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 66% Line Betting: 55% (NOTE: If this is your first visit to the site, be sure to click here for an explanation of what we’re all about.)
- Having finally put it together for a thumping win over the Sharks, the Broncos have curiously opted to celebrate by punting halfback Kodi Nikorima across the Tasman. We wouldn’t have been tipping the Broncos here anyway, with the combination of their 3rd worst defense in the NRL meeting the Rabbitohs’ 3rd best offense suggesting that points are likely to come thick and fast for Souths. But with the added upheaval of the loss of Nikorima added to rumours swirling around the futures of other Broncos notables like James Roberts and Matt Lodge, we really don’t like them now.
- Titans fans who’ve been writing in for the past three years asking when we’ll ever pick their team – this is the moment. Coming off a disappointing loss to the mediocre Tigers might seem like an odd time to buy into the Titans, but we genuinely don’t believe that the Gold Coast are the worst team in the comp. Up until last week’s flop, the Titans’ offensive output had been trending steadily upward for five weeks; and though their defense remains shockingly bad, it’s arguably no worse than that of this week’s opponents, the Cowboys – in fact, we’d argue it’s actually (marginally) better. Though the Titans’ D has been consistently leaky, conceding at least 5 line breaks in all but 2 matches, they’ve only conceded more than 5 twice; and even in those stinkers, they actually didn’t concede that many tries (relatively speaking), allowing just 3 and 4, respectively. In comparison, the Cowboys have conceded at least 5 line breaks 6 times, more than 5 in 4 of 7 matches, and allowed 6, 7 ,5 and 4 tries in those outings. TLDR; the Cowboys concede more line breaks more often, and more tries per line break when they do.
- All of that being said, please don’t misinterpret those numbers as suggesting that the Titans should romp in; after all, we’re merely comparing the league’s worst defense with the league’s 2nd worst – in many ways, it’s like arguing for a preference in instant coffee (ultimately, they’ll all leave you with a bad taste in your mouth). Instead, consider this tip as a commentary on the Cowboys‘ season so far. After seven weeks, they rank last in Offense VOA (-42.09%) and last in Defense VOA (57.68%). They’ve scored 18 points in a match just once, while conceding at least that many on 5 separate occasions. In 4 different matches this season, their teams have registered their highest points total of the season when playing North Queensland (as bad as the Titans have been, they’ve only allowed such an outing once). With a home ground advantage here likely to win them a stack of penalties (assuming their fan-base haven’t deserted them in disgust) and against a notoriously ill-disciplined Titans side (who are the most penalised team this year), the Cowboys remain in with a good chance; and, like last week, if Jason Taumalolo ultimately plays, it’s close enough that we’d probably jump over to the Cows. But we feel the need to make clear that so far in 2019, the Cowboys have been the worst team in the NRL. And there’s no clearer way to express that than by tipping them to lose… at home… to the Titans.
- If the Sharks were at full strength, we’d actually give them a shot of pulling off an upset here. Though the Storm are sitting pretty at the top of ladder, their success so far has been almost entirely the result of their phenomenal defense. Their offense, on the other hand, has been noticeably weak. After starting the season with a bang through the opening fortnight, they’ve since been held to 3 or less line breaks in 4 of their past 5, and accordingly, that’s resulted in them being held to 3 tries or less in their past 4 matches. This, despite them benefiting from a stack of field position, as they’ve outgained their opponents in every match this year. Granted, the Sharks’ defense has been disappointing, but their O has been surprisingly efficient, particularly considering they’ve been without Matt Moylan since Round 4 (they still made 4 or more line breaks in 3 of the 4 matches without him). Unfortunately, they’ve now added Shaun Johnson to their injury list, leaving them with a ridiculously green spine that we just can’t expect to trouble the Storm defense at all.
- What have the Panthers got to do to get a win? After treating the home crowd to easily their best performance of the season against the Rabbitohs, they still went home empty-handed. Ironically, given this week’s opponent, they’re at risk of turning into this year’s edition of the 2018 Raiders. The Panthers have lost 5 of their first 7, but 4 of those losses have been by 8 points or less. Some may consider it karmic justice for all the wins they pulled out of their backsides a year ago, but we’ll just argue that it’s a sign of a team outperforming their ladder position, and capable of going on a tear at any moment.
- That tear may well begin this weekend against the Raiders. The Panthers have become something of a bogey team for the Raiders of late, winning 5 of their past 6 meetings, with Canberra’s only win coming at GIO. You’d imagine the Panthers would be thrilled then that this game has been moved to Wagga Wagga, where the home ground advantage is likely to be far less intimidating. With these sides being quite evenly matched, the winner may well wind up being whoever earns the most possession; and when we compare the two sides’ discipline, it’s close, but we’d give a slight edge to Penrith. Though the Raiders average 1 less error per game than the Panthers, it’s worth noting that the Panthers’ handling was absolutely woeful through the opening month, and since that time, they’ve actually cleaned it right up – and their offensive output has improved accordingly. Through their last 3 outings, the Panthers average just 9.3 errors per game, while the Raiders average 10.7. It’s also worth mentioning that the Panthers’ elite short-kicking game has them leading the league in forced dropouts with 3.29 per game – almost 1.5 more than the Raiders. Put together, that’s enough reason to believe that the Panthers may be able to earn enough footy to squeak out a win against Canberra.
- We’ve got to take our hats off to the Sea Eagles – for a side necessarily lacking in depth due to salary cap mismanagement, they’ve managed to accumulate some of the league’s best depth in the positions that matter. Journeyman Brendan Elliot has been superb in place of Tom Trbojevic this season, and actually leads his team in tackle breaks. Manase Fainu may be the best bench hooker in the league. Now, despite losing Daly Cherry-Evans to an ankle injury, they’re able to recall another experienced NRL half in Kane Elgey to fill his boots. Say what you like about Manly, but while they may not have the most depth, they very well might have the best depth. Which is why we don’t feel great tipping the Bulldogs here. We feel we have to – it’s simply too hard to imagine any team missing its star fullback and halfback winning many matches. However, this is still pretty darn even. Both defenses have been great so far – the Eagles have conceded 3 tries or less in their past 5 straight, while the Bulldogs have managed the same in 4 of their past 5, while boasting 3 outings in which they’ve conceded 2 or less line breaks (the Sea Eagles have just 1). If we consider the two defenses reasonably even, then the question becomes which team has more points in them – Manly with a back-up spine, or the unspectacular Bulldogs. We’re taking Canterbury, but honestly, we don’t love it.
- Statistically, there’s no chance in hell of the Roosters losing to the Tigers, but it would be remiss of us not to mention that the same was true last year when the Tigers did beat the Roosters in Round 1, and they went within 2 points of beating the eventual premiers again in June. We’re certainly not backing them, but we’re at least stopping short this year of declaring the result a foregone conclusion.
- We’ve gone the Warriors this week. Gross.
- Finally, regular readers of The Obstruction Rule will know that we’re all about the Dragons this year – they’re building nicely, and have integrated Corey Norman well into their attack so far (he ranks 4th in the league for line break assists). You may be surprised then, to see that we’ve fallen in behind the Eels this week. Yes, we believe that the Dragons are a better team than the Eels generally in 2019, however seeing Parramatta vs St George-Illawarra on the schedule has sent us off into a cold sweat in a Pavlov’s Dog-type of scenario. You see, we don’t just think the Dragons are better than the Eels this year; we’ve thought they’re better than the Eels every year for most of the past decade. And in that time, what’s happened when these two sides meet? The Eels have won 7 of their past 8 matches, dating back to 2013. In that time the Eels have finished: last, 10th, 12th, 4th (an aberration), and last. The point here is that the Eels were beating the Dragons even when Parramatta were absolute trash. Generally, we tend to disregard these sorts of historical trends, largely due to the variation in squads from year-to-year. So, let’s shorten the timeframe and just look at the last time they met. If we begin from the position that the Eels of 2019 are traveling better than their Wooden Spoon model from last year, then the question is – how different are the Dragons? Well, from the team that lined up in Round 22, the only changes to the Dragons’ starting 13 are the losses of Gareth Widdop, Nene McDonald and Jack de Belin – who’ve been replaced by Corey Norman, Mikaele Ravalawa and Paul Vaughan (further, Euan Aitken and Luciano Leilua have been dropped to the bench). Regardless of whether or not you think these changes make them marginally better or worse, the point here is that their squad (including coach) is pretty darn similar – and that day, they got pumped 40-4 by the team coming last. Given the Dragons’ historic struggles defending against Parramatta (who scored 24 or more points in 6 of those 7 wins), we just can’t feel good about their chances of stopping them when the Eels are coming in with the 2nd highest Offense VOA in the league.