2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 20/32 (63%) (Last week: 5/8)
2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: (64%)
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 Sea Eagles didn’t lose last week due to that howler of a call by the touchie (though it certainly returned the refs to the back page with a bang). No, Manly’s problem was the same as it is every other week – a lack of field position, due to a dire shortage of quality forwards. Addin Fonua-Blake carried the load as usual, but the giant Tongan can only do so much. Taniela Paseka was handy in a 31-minute cameo, but Manly need to find more ways to work their way downfield. Marty Taupau is typically better than he showed against Parramatta, however the combination of under-sized edge forwards, poor starts to sets by the wingers, and the eternal momentum-killer Jake Trbojevic (who – for those of you following along at home – ranks 305th in the league for metres per carry) leave Manly perpetually starvedof field position. Which is a crying shame – when they actually get down the other end of the field, the Eagles may be the best attacking team in the league (and if not, they’re certainly in the conversation). Gifted offense or not though, they’ll continue to lose games like that while ever they’re forced to play the majority of them from their own half.
- They’ll be pleased to see the Broncos on this week’s schedule, then. After shredding North Queensland and Souths over the opening fortnight, Brisbane’s pack have been dismal since the resumption, failing to exceed 1050m in either of their past two games (for context, every other team in the comp has exceeded that mark, in both outings). If you’re wondering where those metres have gone, the answer lies in their post-contact metres – after averaging 582 PCM in their first two games, that number’s collapsed by over 200m, falling to 362m. The biggest disappointment for us has been Thomas Flegler, who’s seen his PCM implode from 75m per game to just 19; but the whole pack’s been terrible. Indeed, after leading the entire team – forwards included – in PCM last week, Corey Oates has been shifted into the pack to provide some go-forward. When you’re forced to lean on a re-purposed winger to provide grunt to your engine room, the signs are not good. Not good at all.
- We want to give a shout-out to the Warriors ahead of their clash with the Cowboys this week – through four weeks, New Zealand sit alongside Melbourne and Penrith as the only teams to have conceded 3 or fewer line breaks in every game so far. Of course, they still lose a lot because their offense is on the verge of being historically bad (they’ve been held to nil in half their matches so far); but their D has actually been decent. If defense is a reflection of attitude, we can safely say that the Warriors aren’t losing due to a lack of effort, but rather through a lack of ability. That defense should keep them competitive though, and when they run into ordinary defenses – like North Queensland – they’ll be a chance of falling over the line a few times, and providing a defendable total. We can’t tip them, but we won’t write them off, either.
- The Battle of the West on Friday night looks like an absolute belter, with two of the three remaining undefeated sides going head-to-head. Popular opinion says the Eels are the team to beat in 2020, but we’re not buying in (yet), and actually fancy the Panthers as exactly the kind of match-up they could struggle with. The tricky aspect for Parramatta is the way they’ve been winning football games. Their offense isn’t especially flash; rather, they depend on weight of possession and field position to do any damage. Similarly, there are serious question marks over their D, that has so far been sheltered by whopping possession advantages. They kept the league’s worst offense to 2 line breaks in Week 1; in Weeks 2 & 3, they had 65% and 63% of the possession, respectively. Week 4 was the first game Parramatta have played against a competent opponent with an even possession share – and they got lit up for 7 line breaks. Why is this important? Because in Penrith they’ll be facing a team ranked 3rd in LBVOA, and who’ve so far won the possession battle in every game so far. Parra’s pack have been superb, and the Eels have won all their matches as a result. But in Penrith, they find an opponent with a better pack, a surprisingly stout defense, and a similar ability to retain possession. Expect a dour, physical arm wrestle.
- Phil Gould made the point on 100% Footy on Monday night that he believes the Rabbitohs are about to go on a tear. After looking into their form line… we agree. It’s not immediately obvious because of all the losing they’ve been doing, but Souths’ numbers have been progressively improving each week. While their season numbers are still poor, the trend is positive; last week, for example, they turned in a RMVOA of -1.15% – bad, but a huge improvement from their season average of -7.27% (2nd worst in the league). Similarly, their TBVOA of 60.35% last week would be good enough to place them 1st for the season. Defensively, they turned in a LBCVOA of -27.37% last week – the first time this season they’ve been above average. In short, they do seem to be getting better – which could be terrible news for the Titans.
- We’re not getting carried away with the Knights‘ offense (Canberra’s edge D was absolutely woeful last weekend), but we do need to acknowledge how dominant Newcastle’s middles were last weekend. Canberra’s pack is generally considered to be a major strength of theirs, so to see every member of the Knights’ pack not named Aidan Guerra go for 10m per carry last week was eye-opening. The big knock on Newcastle over the past two years has been that the ineptitude of their forwards consistently denied their brilliant attacking weapons the field position required to excel (for a 2020 example see: Sea Eagles, Manly). Though it’s only Week 4, that doesn’t appear to be a problem any more – and if it isn’t, they might just be the real deal. What better test is there than facing the Storm? We’re tipping Melbourne, largely due to their elite run defense (they once again rank 1st in the league for RMCVOA), but please don’t mistakenly consider this a gimme – it may yet turn out to be a Grand Final preview.
- As far as inexplicably bad coaching decisions go, it’s hard to go past Michael Maguire’s decision to drop Benji Marshall from the Tigers‘ team this weekend. Don’t get us wrong, we understand it – when you get licked by the worst team in the comp, something has to give, and Benji has been a defensive liability this year, conceding 7 line breaks so far (the 2nd most in the league, only behind the Titans’ Phillip Sami [how a bloke named at fullback each week has conceded 8 line breaks while barely featuring in the line at all is a true mystery, but we digress]). The issue, though, is that by dropping Benji, Maguire is dropping the only Tigers player who’s done anything on offense. Marshall personally has 4 line break assists – the rest of the team combined have managed just 5. Though removing Marshall theoretically strengthens their D, at what cost? The timing is particularly curious, with Wests running into Canberra this week – a team who haven’t scored fewer than 20 points in a game against the Tigers since 2015. The Tigers will need all the points they’ve got in them against Canberra, and will be forced to pin their hopes on the curious attacking stylings of Luke Brooks. Yuck.
- It’s not all good news for the Raiders though. We warned you last weekend that Canberra’s stats against Melbourne were a lot worse than the scoreboard suggested, and they backed it up with another defensive clunker against Newcastle. That game was the 2nd week in a row that the Raiders have conceded 7 or more line breaks – not at all the defensive standard you’d expect from a premiership heavyweight. The problem for Canberra is easy to identify – their right edge defense is utterly hopeless. Nic Cotric, Joseph Tapine and Curtis Scott have now conceded 5, 4 and 3 line break respectively on the season – bad enough to place them 6th, 12th and 24th worst in the league (for comparison, the opposite edge – Simonsson, Whitehead and Croker, have conceded 3, 1 and 1). We don’t have the answer, but with some high octane attacking units on the horizon (Canberra play Manly and Sydney within the coming month) they need to tighten this up in a hurry, or risk dropping out of the Top 4.
- Though the return of Matt Moylan to the starting side brought a win for the Sharks, their offense wasn’t noticeably better – rather, they just managed to be the slightly less shit team in a really, really ordinary game of footy. This week, Chad Townsend returns to the spine, and Andrew Fifita makes his season debut in the pack. If this week’s edition of the Sharks can’t generate some decent offense against the comatose Dragons, we might just have to stick a fork in them. We’re backing them again, but also growing increasingly suspicious that perhaps Cronulla just aren’t very good.