2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 44/64 (69%) (Last week: 7/8)
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
- Tipping the Roosters obviously required very little analysis (the only real calculation here was ‘by how much?’), but regardless of the Cowboys‘ impending loss, there are sure to be some questions asked about Paul Green’s team selection (which turned out to be just the first in a string of bizarre team lists this week). For example, having bought Scott Drinkwater last year to solve their fullback issues, only to then pay huge dollars to displace him with Valentine Holmes; how do we now have a situation in which Holmes is on the wing, Drinkwater is in the halves, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow – a chap with 3 career first-grade games – is lining up in the #1? Which isn’t to say that Tubuai-Fidow is bad — while his three outings resulted in just one win (and losses to the Tigers and Warriors), he was arguably one of the side’s better attacking performers, producing 2 line breaks and 3 line break assists. But having paid out so much money to solve their fullback issues, we’d love to know why Holmes is being shunted back onto the wing. If the answer is that he’s simply not healthy enough to be fullback, then you have to wonder why he’s on the field at all (and you can be sure that the Roosters will expose him if he’s less than 100%). And if the answer is that the club believes Tabuai-Fidow is simply a better fullback at this point, then you have to wonder how they’ll build a competitive squad while carrying a winger on a giant albatross of a contract. The whole thing is a bit weird.
- The Warriors made us look clever last weekend, and we’re going back to the well again here. We wouldn’t go far as to say that they outplayed Brisbane – in fact, their VOAs were almost identical across attacking categories. Rather, they outlasted them. New Zealand stuck to the grind and continued to play a reasonably disciplined game, while performing to roughly a league-average standard. This proved to be enough, with Brisbane eventually capitulating and giving away 6 errors and 8 combined penalties (vs the Warriors’ 3 and 3), paving the way for the 59-41 2nd half possession shift that ultimately fed the Warriors’ win.
- Nevertheless, the fact that the Warriors performed at a league-average level is all we needed to see to tip them here – because the league average against the Titans is over 29 points per game. Though we’d say that the Titans are getting a little better with each passing week, they’re still not very good. Their discipline is horrendous, with the team making double-digit errors in all but one game this year (their upset win over Brisbane), and conceding the 2nd-most combined penalties (only behind – you guessed it – Brisbane). This sees them frequently losing possession shares (they’ve won the possession battle just 3 times in 8 games), and frankly, they simply don’t have either the attacking upside or defensive steel to win games without possession (of the Titans’ 14 wins since the start of 2018, the club has won without 50%+ of possession just once). This makes the Warriors a tough match-up on paper – though they lack much in the way of firepower, they rarely beat themselves, making the 2nd fewest errors in the league, and conceding the 6th fewest combined penalties. And if that’s not compelling enough, consider this: Justin Holbrook has inexplicably named not one, but two second-rowers in the centres this week… and one of them is the defensive meme himself, Bryce Cartwright. Though you have to imagine that Tyrone Peachey will replace one of the pair by game day, we simply will not tip a win for any team with Cartwright named to defend as an outside back. Not now; not ever.
- The Friday night clash between the Rabbitohs and Tigers is probably the toughest of the round to pick. Both sides’ numbers have spiked over the past three weeks – both the Tigers’ LBVOA of 40.94% and the Bunnies’ 27.22% over that period would be good enough for 2nd in the league overall. In favour of the Rabbitohs is their consistent improvement in yardage – their RMVOA has gradually improved each week since Round 1, peaking last weekend with an insane 1719m, and a VOA of 14.61%. This is partly the result of an improved effort from their forwards, but recognition should perhaps be directed to outside backs Dane Gagai and Campbell Graham, who’ve shouldered much of that load. The pair both rank among the Top 50 in the league for both total runs and run metres, with more than half of those coming via early-tackle hit-ups. Our main concern with the Rabbitohs has been their defensive difficulties – for a team that misses very few tackles (they rank 2nd in the league for TBCVOA), they concede a curiously large volume of line breaks, almost exclusively down their flanks. This creates an intriguing match-up of David Nofoaluma – whose 8 line breaks for the season is more than double that of any of his teammates – and Alex Johnston, whose 7 line breaks conceded tops the Rabbits. We’d be inclined to back the Tigers to successfully hammer that edge, were it not for one, tiny detail – Joey Leilua’s brain snap last weekend has seen him suspended, and his place taken by the lumbering Michael Chee-Kam. Chee-Kam isn’t a terrible footballer, but he is a pretty ordinary centre, with his teams having lost 10 of the 13 matches he’s played there (for context, he’s won 53% of games in the second row, and 46% off the bench). Quite simply, the guy’s a back-rower, and his inclusion in the centres is likely to both weaken the Tigers’ D, and adversely affect their ability to take advantage of the Rabbitohs’ suspect edges. In what otherwise looks like a really tight contest, we fancy this might be the difference.
- The bookies are evidently putting little faith in the Sharks‘ recent upswing, and probably with good reason – it’s easy to look good when you’re pumping a reserve grade Manly team and the Gold Coast. That being said, we’re not prepared to write them off – the Sharks’ uptick in line breaks has coincided with a surge in tackle breaks (38 and 39 in Rounds 7 & 8, up from their previous season high of just 24), while the Panthers are coming off their worst outing of the season defensively, having missed a whopping 38 tackles against the Tigers. We’re inclined to think that that was just an aberration, but if it wasn’t, then the Sharks offense may well be able to make a contest out of this. (Though whether or not Cronulla’s trash defense is good enough to keep Penrith out remains doubtful.)
- In our earlier notes on the Warriors, we mentioned that the Broncos performed at roughly a league-average level against New Zealand. This represents a significant improvement for Brisbane, who’d been absolutely dismal on both sides of the ball since the resumption. As it happens, a “league-average” level of offense would be an absolute dream for the Bulldogs, whose Offense VOA of -50.51% ranks dead last in the NRL. We don’t think Brisbane have suddenly turned a corner, but we do believe they looked better than the worst offense in football, who are themselves without their team leader in line break assists (Will Hopoate) and their forward leader in tackle breaks (Adam Elliott). If Brisbane don’t win this, they’re not likely to beat anyone.
- We made the point at the time, and we’ll repeat it now: the Storm were the better team the last time they played the Raiders, and they’re the better team now. Though the popular narrative is that Canberra played their Grand Final against Melbourne in their Round 3 victory (and have stunk ever since), we maintain that they weren’t even that good then. Let us remind you: on that evening, the Storm made more line breaks (7 v 3), tackle breaks (29 v 18), offloads (10 v 8), run metres (1464 v 1288), post-contact metres (486 v 441) and forced drop-outs (4 v 2). In essence, Melbourne won in every facet of the game except the score. If you share the viewpoint that the Raiders have rapidly gone backwards since that game, then you have absolutely no business tipping Canberra here – if their numbers are somehow worse than that, they’ll get massacred. That said, we doubt that they will be worse; but we also doubt they’ll be markedly better. With Iosia Soliola and Emre Guler joining Corey Horsburgh on the sidelines, the Raiders are now without 3 of their top 5 forwards for yardage, and facing the team with the best yardage defense in the league. Their right edge defense still looks suspect (Michael Oldfield didn’t look like a substantial upgrade from Curtis Scott), and the Storm have Cameron Munster looming on their extended bench as a potential ace in the hole. The Storm look like terrific value to us.
- Mark us down as being officially concerned with the way the Knights are looking. Though their overall numbers are still decent (and they did come away with the win against Manly), last week marked the 3rd time in 4 weeks that they conceded 4 line breaks (a mark they only hit once in the opening 4 weeks), and once again included some really soft misses through the middle of the field. We’ll give them a pass for the yardage they gave up (since the majority came in the 2nd half when they were playing with a reduced bench), but the frail look of their middle third defense is really worrying. Further, their inability to put away an under-strength Manly side who’d just been pumped by Cronulla was disappointing, particularly given the 58% possession share the Knights enjoyed in the first half. Had they converted that possession into the 3 or 4 tries you’d have expected, Manly’s fightback would have been snuffed out before it had begun. Newcastle’s win was brave, but they shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. We firmly believe they have the ability to take it to Parramatta (as recently as a week ago, we were expecting to be tipping Newcastle here), but the way they’ve been playing recently, we can’t ignore the possibility that they might get completely blown out. We’re tipping the worst, but hoping for the best.