2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 98/152 (64%) (Last week: 7/8)
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
- Last weekend, the Broncos joined a growing list of teams who’ve brought a streak of good form into Melbourne, only to be comprehensively humiliated. The test now will be how long it takes for them to regain their confidence. For Parramatta, it took about a month after their 64-10 thrashing to start playing decent footy again; in the case of Newcastle, it’s been six weeks and they’re still broken. For others, like New Zealand, a 32-10 spanking from the Storm sparked their season to life (before eventually petering out into the usual ignominy). If we assume that regular programming will immediately resume, then the Broncos should have far too much firepower for the Cowboys. Prior to last week’s embarrassment the Broncos were heating up, scoring 18 combined tries over a 4-week unbeaten stretch (by comparison, the Cowboys have scored just 16 tries from their past 6 combined games). The Broncos’ defense isn’t great, but North Queensland’s is non-existent, conceding 5 or more line breaks for the past 4 weeks in a row. The best hope for the Cowboys is the possibility that the Broncos’ momentum was completely halted by last week’s loss. It’s a possibility, but not one that we’re giving too much weight to.
- As with last week’s match against Canberra, we feel the need to point out that on sheer ability, the Warriors are good enough to beat the Sea Eagles here at home. Unfortunately, like last week, the reality is that actually expecting the Warriors to play to their ability would be foolish. At home, with their season on the line, New Zealand turned in arguably their most insipid effort of the season (which is saying something) in their 46-12 thumping from the Raiders. Sure, they had to toil away with just 40% possession (a position from which they had very little chance of winning), but that doesn’t excuse them for just rolling over and conceding 4 clean line breaks before half-time. If they were helpless against Canberra, we can only imagine how a similar effort will hold up against a Sea Eagles side who’ve registered a LBVOA of 31.87% over the past 6 weeks (first in the league). We’re not doubting New Zealand’s defensive ability – this is the same team who held the Storm to zero line breaks in Round 7 – we’re simply doubting their effort.
- We can’t in good conscience tip the Panthers this week. Last weekend against the Bulldogs, Penrith did exactly what we’d warned about – they got themselves into a low-scoring slugfest (which happens to be the only type of game that Canterbury have any chance of winning). We don’t want to take anything away from the Bulldogs defense – they were absolutely superb. However, it’s worth pointing out that in many ways, this was a mess of the Panthers’ own making. For example, choosing to kick for penalty goal in the first half with an opposing player in the sin-bin was the sort of ultra-conservative move you’d expect from a team hoping to grind down a superior opponent; not the strategy for beating a talentless attacking unit running second-last. Had Penrith run in a try (or two) in that period, the Bulldogs likely would have given up and been on the receiving end of another thumping, as happens almost every time an opponent of theirs crosses the 3-try barrier (of the 8 games in which the Bulldogs have conceded more than 3 tries, their opponents have gone on to score 6 or more in 5 of them). Instead, Penrith kicked a goal (wasting 90 seconds against a short-manned defense), gave up field position, and never saw another decent attacking opportunity for the rest of the period. Frankly, they got what they deserved.
- That being said, the Panthers’ strategy against the Bulldogs would actually be well suited… for playing Cronulla. So far in 2019, the Sharks have been a bit ‘Penrithy’ – that is, error prone, and frequently penalised. As a result, they often find themselves on the losing end of lop-sided possession counts, and have lost more games than they otherwise should have as a result. When the Sharks earn 51% or more of the possession, they typically destroy teams, averaging over 4 tries per game (vs 3.25 with 49% or less). This is relevant because Cronulla’s ill discipline frequently finds them down in possession share. This week’s opponent, the Panthers, are every bit as clumsy with the football as Cronulla, but the Panthers’ ability to force line drop-outs (they rank first in the league) often sees them winning the possession count (Penrith have earned 51% or more in their past 7 straight games – a period in which they’ve lost just twice). In that event, Cronulla’s razor-sharp offense becomes blunted due to a sheer lack of possession. We’re still not prepared to tip Penrith – we saw what a good attacking side can do to the Panthers with little ball two weeks ago, when the Raiders turned 6 opportunities into as many tries – but we warn that if Cronulla get squeezed for possession again, this likely won’t be the beat-down many are predicting.
- Few would have guessed that with five weeks remaining, the Dragons would be contesting the Spoon Bowl 2019. In truth, we don’t really believe they are. St George-Illawarra are two wins clear of the last-placed Titans, and light-years better in terms of ability. It may look close on the ladder, but it’s not.
- Nope, it turns out Jesse Ramien wasn’t the problem. Nathan Brown isn’t the first coach in 2019 to chase a star player out of town – Ivan Cleary did the same to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Waqa Blake earlier this year -but at least the Panthers had a 7-game winning streak to show for it. The Knights, meanwhile, just watched their season slump from bad to worse, getting pumped 30-6 by the Sea Eagles (a side they were above on the ladder as recently as the end of June). We identified the Knights’ problem weeks ago (the constant re-shuffling of their edge combinations has completely destroyed their line break defense) but to no avail, with the Knights once again allowing all but 1 of their 6 line breaks conceded through their re-configured edges. It appears this week that Brown may have finally listened – the Knights have named the same edge combinations in consecutive weeks for just the 3rd time since Rounds 10-11. Of course, that isn’t going to make Newcastle immediately better, but it’s a start. Like the Penrith game above, we don’t have the stones to actually tip them here, but we’re giving them a chance.
- The Bulldogs defended superbly in beating the Panthers last weekend, but let’s be clear – Canterbury are still exactly who we thought they were – they’re an elite defense who’ll compete for as long as they believe they’re in the contest. Their banal offense threatens nobody (they scored 3 tries in a game for just the 7th time this year, and frankly, one of those was a fairly obvious knock-on), leaving them pretty well hopeless against any side who can put up a score. The Tigers may not be a side typically associated with that reputation, but we suggest you check again. The Tigers mightn’t be sexy, but they’re currently on a five-week tear of making 5 or more line breaks in games (the second-longest such streak in the NRL, behind the Roosters) – an attacking run that’s finally begun bearing fruit, with the Tigers earning back-to-back wins for just the 2nd time this year. For as long as this run keeps going, the Tigers are going to be tough to beat.
- This week’s match-of-the-round is surely the Raiders hosting the Roosters at GIO. There’s very little between these two sides – their defensive numbers are almost identical (the Roosters’ rank 3rd vs the Raiders’ 5th), and though the Roosters’ offensive numbers are a long way ahead of Canberra’s, it’s worth noting that Canberra’s attacking stats are being dragged down by a slow start to the year. On recent form – they’ve won 7 of their last 8, by the way – they’re much closer to Sydney, with a LBVOA over the past 5 weeks of 37.69% vs the Roosters’ 55.30%. The home ground advantage will surely work in Canberra’s favour, lending even more weight to the possibility of the Raiders snatching an upset over the defending premiers. The numbers give a slight edge to Sydney, so that’s who we’ve got, but sometimes we just have to say: we really don’t know. Will be a hell of a game, though.