2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 112/176 (64%) (Last week: 4/8)
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.)
- Let’s be clear: we haven’t changed our tune on the Bulldogs. We still have absolutely no interest in backing a team so completely incapable of scoring points. No interest, that is, unless they’re playing one of the two teams worse than them on offense – like this week’s opponent, the Cowboys. Though some may have been impressed with North Queensland’s 4-try effort against Penrith (just the 4th time all season they’ve scored 4 or more tries in a game), we’re of the view that it had far more to do with the apathetic Panthers defense than anything particularly enterprising from the Cowboys (and it’s worth noting that Penrith have conceded 4 or more tries in 4 of their last 5 matches, so at this point, 4 tries is pretty much par for the course). If we consider both offenses to be pretty dull, then the result is likely to be dictated by the defenses – and in that regard, this is a no contest. Over the past 6 weeks, the woefully inept Cowboys defense has delivered a LBCVOA of 39.92% (worst in the league) and unsurprisingly, that’s seen them bleed points, with North Queensland conceding 5 or more tries in half those matches, and at least 3 tries in 5 of the 6. In contrast, the recently-elite Bulldogs D has posted a LBCVOA of -13.62% over the same period (3rd in the NRL), and conceded 1 or fewer tries in half(!) those games. Perhaps most terrifyingly, 2 of those near-shutouts came against Top 5 offenses (South Sydney and Parramatta). In short, we don’t like picking the Bulldogs because they virtually never score more than 3 tries; but that should be plenty against a Cowboys side who may fail to register a point.
- The Friday night battle between the Broncos and the Eels presents as one of the more intriguing clashes of the round, with both sides being last-start losers, following recent stretches of unimpressive wins. Funnily enough, we were actually more impressed with Brisbane in defeat than we have been with anything they’ve shown in their recent wins. It may have taken a spate of injuries to force Anthony Seibold’s hand, but halfback Sean O’Sullivan was able to take advantage of another dominant platform laid by the Broncos’ pack, and finally generate a few scoring opportunities as a result. We can’t stress enough what a difference a legitimate halfback makes to a squad – the Broncos consistently dominate field position, yet are completely clueless when it comes to generating attacking opportunities (outside of Tevita Pangai Jr offloads). However, when they actually have a #7, their offense becomes serviceable – and in many cases, serviceable will be good enough to win, when you consider that recently they’ve consistently won both possession (5 of their last 6) and yardage (5 of their last 6). The evidence of O’Sullivan’s effect is obvious. He created 2 line break assists and 1 try assist against the Rabbitohs, and he has half the line break assists of team leader Anthony Milford for the season – despite having played just 4 matches. At home, and against a Parramatta side who just got gashed for 6 line breaks by Canterbury, we fancy they should be good enough to get home. The big test may come next week, when Jake Turpin returns from suspension to tempt Seibold into more team mismanagement – hopefully O’Sullivan turns in a screamer on Friday to save Seibold from himself.
- Like pretty much everyone else, we agree that the Knights are streets better than the Titans. However, we can’t help wondering how anyone can be a $1.25 favourite after an effort as insipid as what Newcastle turned in last weekend against the Tigers. Sure, the Titans are horrendous, but if the Knights are as disinterested here as they were last week, the Titans can most definitely win.
- Let us say two things about the Sea Eagles. First, Des Hasler’s blatant spoiling strategy that he employed successfully against Canberra (and Melbourne before that) is a piece of coaching brilliance. By doing whatever’s necessary to create a stop-start affair and prevent either side getting into a rhythm, Manly have been able to ensure low-scoring affairs, putting themselves in winnable positions against vastly superior opponents. Against the Raiders in particular, the Sea Eagles essentially dared Ashley Klein to sin-bin somebody by being persistently offside and relentlessly hanging on in the ruck, giving away a whopping 15 penalties before Klein decided to put his whistle away (and at which point, the untidiness in the ruck only got worse). Klein could have blown 50 penalties last week, such was the Sea Eagles’ determined intent to prevent a game of football from breaking out, and the strategy was a resounding success, holding the Raiders to less than 3 tries for the first time since Round 12. From a competitive standpoint, Hasler deserves a standing ovation. However, the second point though, is that such a strategy shouldn’t be facilitated by cowardly refereeing (what happened to using the sin-bin for consistent, intentional infringements?); and even if it is, it’s not a recipe for certain success. All it does is guarantee a close game, not a winning game. Indeed, were it not for the 8-point intercept try (a try which the NRL have since admitted should have been disallowed) Manly would have lost anyway, despite successfully destroying the game as a spectacle (and if you manage to make a Canberra game unenjoyable, you’ve really outdone yourself). In essence, this is a strategy that bad teams employ in order to compete against good teams (a strategy that the Tigers employed to great effect in 2018). So, we’re still not picking them here, and frankly, we sincerely hope they get bundled out of the finals as quickly as possible, so rugby league fans don’t have to suffer through any more of that nauseatingly unwatchable horseshit than necessary.
- If you needed any evidence of just how highly we rate the Sharks in 2019, look no further than the fact that we’re tipping them to roll The Obstruction Rule‘s sweethearts, the Raiders this week. We consider the Sharks the best chance we’ve seen of a team winning the competition from the bottom half of the 8, as they appear to be peaking at the right time of year. Their defense has been greatly improved since their Round 18 loss to the Warriors, conceding 3 or fewer line breaks in 4 of their last 5 matches (a standard they met just 7 times in their first 17 games). At the same time, their offense has gone berserk, creating 8 line breaks on 4 separate occasions over the same period. This is a formula that’s virtually unbeatable and unlikely to slow down, with the side having scored 18 points or more in every match since Wade Graham returned to the side, at an average of 29.75. We love Canberra, but you’d have think that given the Sharks’ recent run of form, plus the fact that this game will be Gal’s farewell from Shark Park, they’re just meeting Cronulla at the worst possible time (and even at the best possible time, the Sharks would still make it a contest).
- Having tipped an incoming breakout attacking performance by the Tigers for the past few weeks, we’d be patting ourselves on the back after Wests turned in an 8-try demolition of Newcastle… were it not for the fact that we tipped the Knights due to – of all reasons – the strength of their defense (*facepalm*). Nonetheless, we were still quietly pleased to see Wests open up the throttle, and can’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to do it again here. The Tigers are playing to keep their slim finals chances alive, and get to face a Dragons side who’ve been phoning it in for weeks (months?). St George-Illawarra have conceded less than 4 line breaks in a game just once since Round 6, and have conceded 5 or more tries in half their games since the start of July. With the Tigers in a bit of a purple patch, it’d take a drastic reversal of form from the Dragons for the Red Vee to get the chocolates here.