2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 47/72 (65%) (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.)
- The Storm are back. With the quality of their defense, their offense doesn’t even need to be that good for Melbourne to be the best team in the NRL, and when it is that good, 64-10 happens. The Storm’s Week 9 LBVOA of 148.24% was not only a season-high for Melbourne, but also for the entire league. Along the way, they also made a remarkable 45 tackle busts and outgained the Eels by a staggering 873 metres (the entire Eels team made just 992). The Storm won’t repeat those sorts of numbers again here, but if they’re even half as good, they’ll be comfortably better than the Tigers.
- What on earth was Ivan Cleary thinking? After having watched a certain win over the Sharks slip away due to Isiaah Yeo being forced to defend out-of-position in the centres, Cleary last week opted to slot the grossly ill-equipped Tyrell Fuimaono into the centres voluntarily – and, unsurprisingly, the Panthers‘ right edge got totally abused for 15 minutes, before Cleary shifted Dean Whare over to stop the rot (by which time, the Panthers were already losing 20-0). The good news here for Penrith fans is that after a bizarre opening two months of decision-making, Cleary appears to finally be making some logical decisions. Penrith’s losses have stemmed almost entirely from two major sources: conceding too many line breaks on their edges, and an inability to convert their own line breaks into tries. On the first point, the return of Waqa Blake should immediately boost the Panthers’ edge defense. While Yeo and Fuimaono conceded 6 line breaks between them in under 100 minutes of football, Blake has allowed just 4 all season. As you’d expect, the difference to the Panthers’ defensive fortunes are staggering: in the opening five games (when the Panthers’ preferred centre pairing completed their matches) the Panthers produced a LBCVOA of -25.64% (2nd in the league, only behind the Storm); in the subsequent four games (where at least one centre spot was filled by either Yeo, Fuimaono or Dallin Watene-Zelezniak), the Panthers’ LBCVOA plummeted to 48.29% (the worst in the NRL). With the root of their defensive issues addressed, Cleary has also moved to spark their offense. While The Obstruction Rule has been at a loss to explain the Panthers’ inability to convert opportunities, Cleary seems to have identified a possible cause: a lack of pace. As a result, the effective but slow Caleb Aekins and Josh Mansour have been dropped, with the noticeably quicker Dylan Edwards and rookie Brian To’o starting in their places. Though the changes may very well come at a cost (Aekins, for example, has made 0 errors in his 3 starts this year, compared to Edwards’ 13 in 5 starts), it’s hard to argue with the rationale – Aekins and Mansour have combined for 8 line breaks, yet somehow have just a single try involvement between them. If the Panthers’ halves can generate the same opportunities for Edwards and To’o, you’d have to fancy they’re a better chance of finishing those opportunities (after all, they couldn’t be any worse).
- The clash between the Titans and Bulldogs presents one of the more intriguing match-ups of the round. Unsurprisingly, both sides were last-start losers in Round 9, but both sides would fancy themselves a huge chance here. The Titans were actually traveling along alright until their Week 7 loss to the Tigers – a disappointing flop that started a 3-game skid. So, what changed? The only notable difference in their squad was the loss of Ryan James, and given the forward depth at the Titans, you’d have thought that they could handle the loss of their forward leader better than most. In practice though, that hasn’t been the case – the Titans have been held to 1300m or less in every game since James went down. This makes it an awkward time to be facing Canterbury, who’ve made 1360m or more in every game over the same period.
- The Bulldogs though, come with question marks of their own. Last week saw the return of Keiran Foran to the team, but oddly, it came at the expense of Lachlan Lewis rather than the horribly out-of-form Jack Cogger. Though The Obstruction Rule is admittedly no fan of Lewis, he’s easily been the Dogs’ most critical attacking player, and it isn’t even close. In dropping Lewis, they dropped their team leader in try assists and line break assists (he has 5 and 10 respectively, compared to Cogger’s 2 and 2), in addition to the team’s best kicker (by comparison, Cogger looks like he’s kicking a medicine ball). As a result, last week saw the Bulldogs register their lowest LBVOA in four weeks (-51.35%), as they scored just 10 points – the lowest score against the Knights since Round 1. To be clear, we’re not critical of the decision to bring Foran in – he’s far and away the best half at the club. However, we have to wonder what it is exactly that Dean Pay thinks Cogger is bringing to the team at this point, and where their points and going to come from if Foran takes a while to get going. Presumably, Pay is pinning his hopes on his second-rowers, with powerful line-runners Corey Harawira-Naera and Rhyse Martin returning to the team. With an expected weight of field position (and against the 2nd worst defense in the league) we’ll back them to score the 18 or so points they’ll need to win. If they can’t score that many against the Titans, they’re in real trouble.
- As rugby league writers across the nation were finalising their stories about the abysmal Panthers performance last weekend, the Eels said “hold my beer”, and proceeded to turn in the most disastrously inept effort of the entire season so far. That being said, these sorts of things are to be expected from Parramatta – they’re not yet a bona fide contender, and against a heavyweight like Melbourne, it’s somewhat understandable that they’d quit. Fortunately for the Eels, the Cowboys are not the Storm. Though the Eels allowed 12 line breaks to the rampaging Storm, the Cowboys have produced just 10 line breaks in their past 5 matches combined. And on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are even worse. While the Eels’ thrashing marked the 3rd week in a row that Parramatta have conceded 5 or more line breaks, the Cowboys have now done the same in every game since Week 2. In short, the Eels may be trending downwards and regressing towards a more realistic level for their ability, the Cowboys are still worse, and at home or not, we just can’t tip them against anybody. Refereeing ineptitude bailed them out two weeks ago against the Titans; we don’t expect the same to happen here.
- We love the Raiders as much as the next person, but Canberra’s defensive standards have slipped considerably over the past month, and that makes it impossible for us to back them against the Rabbitohs this week. The Raiders have now conceded 5 or more line breaks and 1400 or more metres in 4 matches in a row – a period in which they’ve been somewhat fortunate to win 2 games. After conceding just 8 tries in their first 5 games, they’ve allowed 15 in their past 4 – and now face the red-hot Rabbitohs, who’ve scored 4 or more tries in all but 2 games this season. As good as the Raiders are, we don’t believe they have the points in them to keep up if the Rabbitohs get going.
- We wrote four weeks ago that we believed the Knights’ offense was about to click into gear, and they haven’t disappointed, scoring 22 or more points in their past 3 games straight. Here, they face a Dragons team who performed surprisingly well last week without Corey Norman, but nonetheless got shredded to the tune of 9 line breaks by the Warriors. It looked like the Warriors were deliberately targeting Norman’s replacement, Jai Field, as they put 3 of their 5 tries down that edge, with Field conceding 2 line breaks and producing a tackle efficency of just 54%. We hope for his sake that the Knights weren’t watching, or Kalyn Ponga and Hymel Hunt may be about to have a Field day (sorry, I’ll see myself out).