2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 79/128 (62%) (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.)
- Sea Eagles
- Though the Bulldogs‘ improved recent results may give the illusion of a team that’s turned the corner, it should be noted that the offensive ineptitude that’s plagued the side in recent seasons hasn’t yet gone away. It speaks volumes that Canterbury’s 3 tries on the weekend – a number met or exceeded by 11 teams this weekend alone – was the most the Bulldogs have scored since Round 10 (and that came against the Gold Coast). Put simply, it’s near impossible to tip a team who’ve exceeded 16 points in a game just 4 times all year. They’ve lost almost every game they’ve played in 2019 in which their opponents have scored 3 tries – with the lone exception of the Sharks game, in which Shaun Johnson went 0 from 3 kicking goals.
- Which leads us to the question: can the Broncos score 3 tries? We’d argue yes, though it’s not a certainty. Brisbane’s offense has looked noticeably sharper over the past fortnight, with the team’s LBVOA (13.37%), RMVOA (5.01%) and TBVOA (31.95%) all exceeding their season averages, leading to an average 3.5 tries per game (despite losing the possession battle in both matches). At home, and needing a win to keep in touch with the Top 8, we’re expecting that to continue.
- This week’s mystery box will be the Warriors–Sharks clash on Friday evening. Both sides have been enigmatic in 2019 (to put it politely), and are difficult to predict due to volatile swings in performance. For New Zealand, their offense has been generally reliable. With the exception of a two-week stint in the middle of the season in which they were held to just 2 combined tries, they’ve been consistently effective with the ball, producing a league-leading LBVOA of 22.08%. However, their problem is defense, and their ability to protect their defense with good discipline. They’ve so far won just 2 matches all season in which they’ve lost the possession battle (their 2 meetings with the ironically-named Titans). In the others, their defense has been absolutely toweled up. Consider this: when the Warriors have earned 50% or more of the possession, they’ve conceded an average 2.2 tries per game; when that drops to 49% or less, it almost doubles to 4.1. This is the crux of what makes New Zealand so frustrating – they have the upside to thrash teams if they get enough footy, but are prone to such bewilderingly stupid patches of football that you can’t possibly predict whether they’ll earn enough possession or not.
- Meanwhile at Cronulla, they’ve been the victims of injury-related defensive issues – but not necessarily for the reasons you’d expect. In the case of Paul Gallen (who’s still under a cloud for this game), his absence was highly visible against Melbourne, with the Storm running an embarrassing 4 line breaks through the middle third of the field (where Gallen would typically be patrolling). In other cases though, it’s been the health of certain players contributing to their malaise. Like Shaun Johnson, for example, who’s so far been a total liability since arriving at Cronulla. It’s not a coincidence that the Sharks won 4 of 5 matches during his mid-season absence, before losing their next 4 straight upon his return. Johnson has personally conceded an average 1.1 line breaks and 0.8 tries per game, compared to just 0.6 and 0.3 for his replacement, Kyle Flanagan. And to compound problems, their entire defense has been exposed more when Johnson plays too, due to his 1.4 errors per game (vs Flanagan’s 0.1). Unsurprisingly then, the Sharks average a whopping 54% possession share when Johnson doesn’t play. So, though we’re sweating on the health of Gallen and fullback Matt Moylan, don’t be too concerned if Johnson misses the clash on Friday – his absence may hold the key to a Cronulla victory.
- Though we’re not getting carried away with the Panthers‘ win over the Gold Coast last weekend, it was notable as the 2nd week in a row that Penrith have made 5 or more line breaks in a game. We frequently like to remind readers of the link between tries and line breaks, and the Panthers’ 7 tries from 13 breaks over the past fortnight is anomalously low. Should this upward trend in line breaks continue, we’d expect a leap in tries to shortly follow.
- And what better team to do that against than a Dragons unit who just conceded 11 line breaks to the Raiders – a low-water mark for their season (and a match in which they got to play against 12 men for 22 minutes – and lost that period 10-4). The Dragons’ defense has been shambolic since their meltdown against Parramatta in Round 8, with the team conceding 5 or more line breaks in 7 of their last 9 matches. That puts a lot of pressure on their offense to win them games – something that will only be harder following the curious decision to rest Origin halfback Ben Hunt for this clash. Against a Penrith side playing at home and who haven’t conceded a try in their last 2 hours of football, it doesn’t look promising for St George-Illawarra.
- Though we expect the return of Kalyn Ponga to boost the Knights here, his absence alone hasn’t been the cause of their recent issues. To be quite blunt, the defense has been plain bad over the past month, with the side leaking 15 tries in their past 4 matches (they allowed just 13 in the previous 6), with their insipid display against the Bulldogs arguably the low-point (their 5 line breaks conceded to Canterbury was the Bulldogs’ equal 2nd-highest total this year). You can’t expect the return of Ponga – a fullback – to suddenly fix that; they need to start getting some consistency in their edges to improve communication. Over their past four starts, Hymel Hunt has shifted from the centre to the wing; Sione Mata’utia has moved from second row to centre and back again; Kurt Mann has gone from five-eighth to fullback to halfback to centre… the list goes on and on. Without continuity, otherwise good defenders aren’t being allowed to perform to the best of their ability. Having versatile players is a blessing, but at some point they need to be given the opportunity to build relationships with the guys around them. This week, Tautau Moga (who’s not a great defender in the first place) comes in at centre, Mann shifts again to five-eighth and Mitch Barnett reclaims his second row spot. The good news is that they’re getting closer to their ideal line-up; the bad news is that it means more changes, and probably some more teething problems before they get back to playing their best footy.
- Are the Raiders back as the great entertainers? After averaging 7 line breaks per game over the past three weeks, it sure as heck looks like it. And with the Green Machine embedded in the Top 4 even without playing their best attacking footy, it’s awfully ominous for the rest of the league if they’re about to open up the throttle. And with the Raiders’ offense starting to hum, there couldn’t be a better time to play their favourite whipping boys, the Tigers. At this point, you shouldn’t need us to tell you that the Raiders have scored 20+ points in their last 6 meetings with the Tigers in a row – a period in which they’ve lost just once, and enjoyed an average winning margin of 40(!). If Canberra really are hitting their straps, you’d better get your popcorn ready.
- Please don’t be fooled by the Cowboys’ win over an under-strength Roosters side last week – all the same problems were still evident with North Queensland. They still can’t score (they scored 2 or less tries for the 7th time this year) and they still can’t defend (they conceded 5 or more line breaks for the 9th time). The Rabbitohs haven’t been traveling that well and were lucky to get out of jail against Manly, but the win will do their confidence a world of good, and frankly, the Sea Eagles are a long way better than the Cowboys.
- The Storm have dealt the Titans the ultimate insult, choosing to have their Origin stars back up three days later against the Sharks, only to then rest them now against the Gold Coast. The message coming from Melbourne is clear – they believe they don’t need their best players to beat this rabble of a Titans side. Oh – and we believe that, too.
- Finally the Sea Eagles-Eels clash on Sunday has all the markings of a coin-flip, which makes Manly’s overwhelming $1.46 favouritism surprising to us (particularly when you consider that Manly have lost 7 of their past 8 against Parramatta). Don’t get us wrong – we’re tipping the Sunday arvo Brookvale Oval crowd to get their lads home, but this is anything but an easy tip. We’re looking at two above-average attacking units (the Eels actually rank higher, 4th v 8th) going head-to-head against a pair of below-average defenses (the Sea Eagles have the slight edge here, 12th v 13th). Neither side has scored less than 20 points since the start of June, and both are jostling for position within the 8. Expect a feast of points, and a game that anybody could win.