2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 83/112 (74%) (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.)
- It is with a heavy heart that we find ourselves begrudgingly forced to tip the Eels this week. Please allow us to make one thing clear – Parramatta are not on Melbourne’s level. They belong more appropriately in the Canberra/Newcastle range, and on form, would probably lose to them as well. However, injuries and suspension have combined to turn this game on its head. A week ago, the Storm pulled one out of the drawer to thump the Roosters without both their superstar Camerons. At a glance, this would lend support to the notion that they could do the same to Parramatta (who, as we’ve mentioned, are worse than the Roosters). However, this isn’t apples to apples. For a start, a huge factor in the Storm’s win was the dominance of their forward pack. The outgained the Roosters by almost 300m on the night, generated largely by having six different forwards run for over 100m (for context, the Roosters had just three). However, two things are significantly different here. One, two of those forwards – Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane – are now out, due to suspension and injury, respectively. Two, that was effectively a reserve-grade Roosters pack. Here, they’ll be facing an Eels engine room that’s essentially at 100% – and is arguably the equal of Melbourne’s anyway. Yes, Melbourne’s run defense is the envy of the league, with a RMCVOA of -10.63% (a distant 1st). But Parramatta actually hold a significant advantage when it comes to metres gained, owning a RMVOA of 6.41% (3rd), vs the Storm’s -0.93% (9th). In short, we would expect the Eels’ ability to generate metres to counterbalance the Storm’s knack for defending them – and that’s before considering the loss of the two key middles. And without the dominant territorial advantage they enjoyed last weekend, how confident can we be that the Storm will generate points? This is the big question mark, and where we have to err on the conservative side. Though they barely missed a beat last week without Munster and Smith, the expectation that Jahrome Hughes will be a late scratching has tipped us over the edge. Hughes put the team on his back last week, producing 1 try, 1 try assist, and 2 line breaks. On the season, he’s 1st on the team for try involvements (20). Should Hughes sit out, the Storm will have a combined 32 line break assists sitting on the sideline (for perspective, the lowly Warriors have 38 line breaks for the season… total). Control of their offense will be turned over to the superbly average Ryley Jacks, who has just 3 try involvements in 6 appearances. Finally, though the two sides’ head-to-head record heavily favours Melbourne, it is illuminating to look back to the last time Parramatta beat Melbourne, in 2017. On that day, the Storm were missing their complete spine (seems familiar), a handful of key forwards (Jordan Maclean, Cameron Welch and Tim Glasby), were marshaled around the field by Ryley Jacks (oh dear) and were objectively a better team than Parramatta for the season – they would go on to win their next 10 straight on the way to winning the Grand Final; Parramatta would be bundled out in the finals in straight sets. Everything about this feels like history repeating.
- We suspect the Sharks will be devastated to see Brian To’o back for the Panthers. In addition to his powerful running giving a further boost to the start of Penrith’s sets (To’o remains 2nd among Panthers outside backs for hit-ups, despite having missed 6 games, and packs an incredible 10 metres-per-carry – 5th in the league among wingers), it will also facilitate Brent Naden shuffling in to the centres. Though you may have forgotten how beastly Naden is as a three-quarter, we’re confident the Sharks haven’t – the last time they met, Naden ripped them a new one, contributing 1 try, 1 try assist, 5 tackle breaks, 1 line break and 2 line break assists. Coming off an outing in which Cronulla got obliterated for 11 line breaks by a Gold Coast team ranked 2nd last for LBVOA, the idea that Penrith’s somehow getting stronger ought to put the fear of God into them. After a slowish week against New Zealand, we fully expect Penrith to put the throttle down at home.
- We mentioned last week that the Norman/Clune/Hunt spine combination has been the Dragons’ strongest, but even we were shocked to see them pull off the upset against Parramatta. The challenge here will be to back it up against a team they should most definitely beat. The Broncos will see Payne Haas and Thomas Flegler join Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai Jr on the sidelines, leaving them with a patchwork forward pack to lay the foundation for their misfiring backline. Their offense has had its moments, but their under-strength engine room gets dominated every week (they’ve been outgained in 12 of their 14 matches, including their last 5 in a row). Against a Dragons pack that’s posted 1500m+ in their past 3 straight (a mark Brisbane have hit just twice all season), they’re on a hiding to nothing. Checking St George-Illawarra’s draw, this may be an opportunity for the Dragons to go on a little bit of a run.
- Don’t look now, but over the past fortnight only one team has made double-digit line breaks in a game: and it’s the Titans. And they’ve done it twice. Now, that should come with the disclaimer that over the past two weeks they’ve had the good fortune of facing the two worst defenses in football (the Sharks and Cowboys), but the point stands – as far as the Titans’ offense goes, they are unquestionably in the best form they’ve been in for years. Of course, we won’t be tipping them until we’ve seen them produce against a competent defense (and the Raiders are most definitely such a D), largely because their own defense remains prone to conceding huge volumes of points (they’ve conceded 20+ in 10 of 14 games so far, and haven’t conceded fewer than 4 line breaks in a game for 6 weeks). But, should they keep their current level of offensive production going, they might be able to rack up a few scores in coming weeks, with below-average defenses like Brisbane and Canterbury on the horizon.
- We’re somewhat surprised that there hasn’t been more interest in the Tigers this week, particularly after seeing the Roosters get hammered by a Cameron-less Melbourne side. The Roosters will now be without both Luke Keary and Lachlam Lam, a change that isn’t likely to see their sputtering offense improve. For the Roosters to win, it will need to be on the strength of their defense, not their offense. The Tigers have points to burn, but are developing the look of flat-track bullies: through 14 weeks, they’ve played just 6 games against Top 8-ranked defenses, for an average of 14.3 points-per-game; in the remaining 8 games against Bottom-8 defenses, that doubles to 28.5. We’re reasonably content to say that if the Roosters’ #3-ranked defense defends to its typical standard, they should have the points in them to get home, despite the halves shake-up (after all, prior to last week’s whooping, they’d scored 18 or more in their previous 11 straight games). But if the Roosters D lets up – even a little – the Tigers have proven themselves more than capable of punishing weak defensive efforts, and that would really test the Roosters’ ability to keep pace. We’re backing Sydney, but think the Tigers’ price is tempting.
- As expected, the loss of Addin Fonua-Blake and Marty Taupau saw the Sea Eagles return to their bad old ways, getting hammered for yardage by 299m (again). Perhaps the saddest part of that is that most viewers would argue that this was the best that many of their reserve forwards have played all season. If they hadn’t had to waste 14 hit-ups on a bloke making 6 metres-per-carry (looking at you, Plod), they very well might have won. Instead, it’s back to the drawing board, and another likely week spent scrapping to get out of their own end. Though it took a minor miracle for the Rabbitohs to get home against North Queensland, it’s worth noting that they did outperform their opponent in line breaks, tackle breaks and offloads and were largely under the pump due to poor field position (not likely to be a problem) and a lack of possession (they had just 44% of the ball, yet somehow managed a win – that’s actually quite the accomplishment). Should those issues disappear, Souths should have more than enough to handle Manly, who trail Souths in every offensive metric. Though Souths’ defense is admittedly vulnerable on the edges, a backline of Taufua-Parker-Suli-Funa hardly strikes fear in the hearts of opposing Ds (none have more than 7 line breaks – a mark exceeded by Alex Johnston, Dane Gagai and Cody Walker), and besides; the Sea Eagles susceptibility to kicks in behind them – especially Taufua, who has the turning circle of a semi-trailer – gives them a defense that be easily exposed by good coaching and Souths’ kicking game.
- The Sunday afternoon clash between the Bulldogs and Warriors looms as a potential match-of-the-round, at least from a competitiveness stand-point. Sure, neither side is in the middle of a particularly impressive season, but since punting their respective coaches, both sides have produced some improvement in results. Though it’s the Warriors who’ve grabbed the headlines under Todd Payten and been universally praised for their performances, we’re actually of the view that it’s Canterbury who are performing better. This is a difficult position to take – one is never filled with confidence tipping a team with just 2 wins on the season (oddly, the last time we did, it was backing the Warriors to upset Brisbane), however the numbers are reasonably firm. First, let’s talk about Canterbury. The first thing that should be pointed out is that they’re a lot better with Keiran Foran in the team. Their LBVOA is poor (-23.68%), but its artificially lower because of their awful performances in the opening rounds without Foran. Counting only the games in which Foran’s played, that number climbs to -14.73%. Again, this is ordinary, but it’s a long way better than the Warriors’ last-placed -34.73%. However, it’s also worth noting that Foran is coming back from a long lay-off. It would be reasonable to expect that Foran’s numbers would slowly improve as he gets his legs under him – and that’s exactly what’s happened. Through his first 5 games back, Foran produced just 1 try assist, but in his next 6, he produced another 9. Comparing these two periods, we unsurprisingly see a climb in LBVOA, from -19.33% in Foran’s first 5, to -10.90% since. Our point here is that there is a consistent pattern of improvement for the Bulldogs’ offense, and with the further boost of Will Hopoate’s return (Hopoate ranks 2nd in the team with 4 line break assists, despite having played just 7 matches), there’s no reason to think that shouldn’t continue. But is the same true of the Warriors? In a word: no. Though they have been improving, their LBVOA under Payten (-26.20%) remains worse than that of the Bulldogs, even if you include the period where Foran wasn’t playing. In the past three weeks, the Bulldogs have produced 5 line breaks twice; the Warriors have hit that mark once all season, and that was all the way back in Round 8. They don’t break the line, meaning that they’re typically forced to rely on kicks to generate points – a tactic that depends heavily on field position. But unfortunately, they lost their best forward, Jack Hetherington, to suspension a week ago – a development that resulted in them getting outgained by Penrith to the tune of 582m(!). This lack of punch in the forwards will only be further tested with the suspension of Eliesa Katoa, their forward leader in tackle breaks (19). With very little go-forward and zero attacking flair, we simply can’t make an argument to justify tipping New Zealand. It feels a bit yucky to tip the team running dead last, but if we’re being true to the numbers, we don’t see any choice – Canterbury are playing better.