2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 52/80 (65%) (Last week: 5/8)
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.)
- Sea Eagles
- The Eels are sputtering, and when the season nears midnight, they’re looking increasingly likely to turn back into a pumpkin. Their defense was never especially good to begin with, and now their offense has produced back-to-back bludgers behind a hopelessly ineffective forward pack, as they’ve been outgained by over 1100m in the past 2 weeks. Fortunately, there’s good news coming for Parramatta on two fronts. The first is that they return to Bankwest Stadium this week, where in their 2 previous outings they’ve racked up an astounding 14 tries and 18 line breaks, on their way to a combined score of 83-24. The other is that they get to face the Panthers.
- You have to feel sorry for Ivan Cleary (actually, if you’re a Tigers fan, you really don’t). Compared to the other hopeless teams in the competition (namely the Cowboys, Bulldogs, Tigers and Titans) the Panthers stand out as the the most obviously talented of the bunch – and as the team resting on the bottom of the ladder. The Panthers are theoretically not far away from winning football games – though they’ve lost 8 games so far, just 2 were by more than 2 tries. In general, they get close, but consistently find ways to lose. And to make matters worse, whenever Cleary makes adjustments to fix up an area of weakness, two more appear like the heads of the Hydra. Last week, he shored up his edge defense with the return of Waqa Blake, only to watch his side concede 3 tries directly through the middle of the ruck. He added speed by dropping Caleb Aekins and Josh Mansour, only to watch his side produce their lowest LBVOA since Round 4. In hindsight, perhaps some of this was to be expected – in dropping Reagan Campbell-Gillard, they lost an Origin-caliber middle forward with a tackle efficiency of 91% (2nd among Penrith’s middles). Plus, it’s hard to generate offense when you’re not winning at the advantage line – and RCG’s 8.6 metres per carry puts him 4th among Penrith’s under-performing middle forwards, while Mansour and Aekins are 3rd and 4th respectively in the entire team. They’ll surely win a game eventually, and – who knows – maybe it’ll be this week. But when it eventually does arrive, unlike the other teams mentioned who’d be heaped with praise, the Panthers will only be greeted with an exhale through the nose and a mumbling of “it’s about f#*king time”.
- Injuries or not, we expect the Sea Eagles to keep the good times rolling against the Titans. We’re not really buying into Manly (they’re in many ways the polar opposite of Penrith – where the Panthers manage to lose even when they play well, the Sea Eagles somehow win even when they play poorly), but the Titans shouldn’t pose much of a threat. When the Sea Eagles have struggled this year has been when their offense has failed – 3 of their 4 losses have come when they’ve been held to 2 or less tries. Conveniently, the Titans’ defense can’t stop anyone – they’ve yet to hold any opponent to 2 or less tries all year. For the Titans to win games they need to score a lot of points – and they haven’t been doing much of that lately, either.
- There may be a low-key Boilover Alert on Friday night. Though we just can’t bring ourselves to pull the trigger and back the Knights in head-to-head here, we rate them a huge chance of pulling off an upset, and at $2.90 (at time of writing), they’re unbelievably well priced for the punters out there. Though they struggled during the season’s opening month due to the failed Ponga-to-five-eighth experiment, they’ve been absolutely electric for the past 6 weeks, winning 4 matches and producing an incredible LBVOA of 39.26% over that period (in contrast, the Roosters – widely regarded as the best attacking team in the league – have produced a LBVOA of 13.57% over the same six weeks). Most promising for the Knights though, is their improved defense. Though their past two victims have been the pedestrian offense of the Bulldogs and a struggling Dragons outfit, the fact they’ve allowed just 4 line breaks in their past 160 minutes of football is nonetheless impressive, and a huge improvement over Knights teams of the past half-decade. Though they probably need to severely limit the Roosters’ possession in order to get a similar result here, they are capable of it – they’ve managed to make 5 errors or less in two of their past 3 games. It’s a huge ask to continue to replicate those sorts of numbers against one the best teams in the comp, but in the very least, we’re saying there’s a chance.
- Hats off to the Cowboys, who managed to parlay a 9-5 penalty count and just 8 errors into a whopping 58% possession advantage and an eventual win over one of 2019’s better attacking units. The Cowboys are so shockingly one-dimensional and devoid of attacking talent that hoarding possession and starving their opponents of opportunities is literally the only way they can beat anyone. Of their 4 wins in 2019, all of them have come with possession shares of 53% or greater, and even then, they’ve still managed to lose 4 games in which they won the possession battle (were it not for Blake Ferguson’s serving of rocks, this could easily have been #5). Are the Raiders likely to gift them that sort of possession share here? Probably not. The Canberra faithful should help the Raiders get a fairer rub of the green than the Cowboys’ opponents typically do, and the Raiders have given up 53% or more of the possession to their opponents just once all year (their narrow loss to Manly). We’re not going to say it’s impossible, but on the balance of probability, it’s unlikely.
- Though the mainstream media has been quick to declare that the Broncos are back (likely at least in part out of desperation for a Queensland team to be relevant in 2019), we’re going to go in the other direction and declare: no, they’re not. They’re still bad. Sure, they’ve now won back-to-back games for the first time this year, but hidden in those victories is the fact that they needed a 55% possession share to do it, and still managed to concede 5 and 4 line breaks in those outings, while allowing just 2 and 1 tries. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again – it’s unsustainable for teams to concede just 3 tries while allowing through 9 line breaks. They need to either get their line breaks conceded down, or their tries conceded is going to go up. And against the Warriors – who’ve now made 5 or more line breaks in 8 of their 10 matches this year – we don’t expect it’s going to be the former.
- We’re not tipping the Bulldogs this week (nobody in their right mind would), but we do want to mention that the Bulldogs gave the Storm a good fright the last time they met, going down 18-16 at AAMI Park in Round 4. This game was interesting not only because of the surprisingly close result, but because both sides produced performances totally out of character. That performance remains the Bulldogs’ best in LBVOA all year, while it was also the Storm’s 2nd worst (behind their weak effort against the Warriors). We don’t expect the Bulldogs to win, but we’re certainly curious to see whether that game was just an anomaly, or if Dean Pay has built a recipe for containing Melbourne (that day, the Bulldogs set season-highs for run metres and offloads – it’ll be interesting to see if that factors heavily into the gameplan again).
- FINALLY. Only Paul McGregor would think it’s a good idea to drop his best defensive centre to the bench from a winning team, and take three consecutive losses to figure out that it was a mistake. Zac Lomax has been shifted to fullback (where he should have been in the first place) to accommodate the return of Euan Aitken, and Mikaele Ravalawa has been dropped (along with Matt Dufty). The re-shuffle moves 18 combined line breaks conceded out of the Dragons’ defensive line, bringing in Aitken (who’s conceded just 2), and Jonus Pearson (who’s making his club debut, but can’t possibly be any worse). Both the Dragons and Sharks were woeful last week, with the Cronulla offense in particular struggling for ideas against Manly. This should be a tight contest, but at home and with their backline finally configured correctly, we’re leaning towards the Dragons to get a rare win in the month of May.