2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 90/120 (75%) (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.)
- We kick off Round 16 with a pretty clear “game of the week”. In a round littered with Top 8 vs Bottom 8 clashes, a match-up between a pair of likely finals-bound sides should be the highlight. Of course, a competitive match does not necessarily equal a “good” match. This game should come with a disclaimer that there’s every chance the action will be stifled, interrupted, and have many minutes lost while blokes mill around packing scrums. The Eels and Rabbitohs enter this clash as the 2nd and 4th worst offenders in terms of errors, with Parramatta in particular currently in the middle of a 7-game stretch of matches in which they’ve made double-digit errors – a streak exceeded only by the extraordinarily clumsy Titans and Cowboys. This observation lends itself to a pretty obvious question – if they keep turning the ball over, how on earth are they still winning? The answer here is: with a lot of help. The following is their Total Penalties conceded per game over that period (Total Penalty count is the sum of blown penalties and set restarts), working backwards:
- 4 (vs 11)
- 7 (vs 7)
- 4 (vs 11)
- 7 (vs 9)
- 4 (vs 11)
- 7 (vs 12)
- 14 (vs 8)
- While the Thursday game is the only match-up between Top 8 teams, the early Friday game is the only one between two Bottom 8 teams. Like the game above, this has the potential to be interesting, but mainly due to the incredibly wide range of potential outcomes. At some point or another you need to give the Titans credit, and after producing 30 line breaks in three weeks (including 8 against the typically solid Raiders), their offense is clearly doing something right. Here, they get to face a Dragons side that’s leaked 5+ line breaks in 4 of their last 5, suggesting the Gold Coast should be good for something like 4-5 LBs here themselves, which would result in something like 3 tries. So, why aren’t we tipping them? Because their defense is so bad that 3 tries would have only been enough for them to win in 3 of their 15 matches so far. In every other match they’ve conceded 18+ points, and against a St George-Illawarra side who’ve scored 4+ tries in 5 of their past 7, it’s hard to make a strong argument for that changing here. That said, there’s a non-zero chance that the Dragons’ D flounders (they looked pretty iffy against Brisbane), in which case it could be the Titans who run up a score. We expect the Dragons to get it, but it’s not a formality.
- The Roosters are back, baby. We’d been waiting six weeks for them to awaken from their mid-season slumber, and they did so with a roar last weekend against the Tigers (or, perhaps more appropriately, with a cock-a-doodle-doo). They recorded season-highs in LBVOA (158.30%) and RMVOA (20.95%), and their 2nd-best number of the year for TBVOA (52.21%) in their thumping victory, which was all the more impressive given the absence of star half Luke Keary. Against the league’s 3rd-worst defense, it’d take a very brave punter to tip against a strong encore performance.
- The Warriors kept the dream alive last weekend, but we weren’t terribly taken by anything they produced. They managed enough opportunistic tries to get the job done, but there were still a few ominous signs for their defense that are impossible to ignore. For example, their inability to limit Canterbury’s yardage throughout the first half was concerning, particularly considering the low calibre of opponent. This improved in the second half (largely because Canterbury were starting their sets in difficult positions), but the match still resulted in the Dogs’ 6th-highest yardage total of the year, and the first game all season in which they’ve made over 1500m while losing the possession count. This is concerning for New Zealand because of the opponent they have coming up: the Knights rank 2nd in the league for RMVOA (7.40%), and are coming off an outing in which they put over 1900m on North Queensland. As a result, we fully expect the Warriors to get smoked for yardage, which bodes poorly for them: in the 9 games this year in which they’ve been outgained, they’ve lost 8, by an average margin of 22.75. Which leads us to our other observation – after a strong start to the season, New Zealand are beginning to hemorrhage line breaks, giving up another 5 against Canterbury, marking the 4th week in a row in which they’ve conceded 5 or more. Put simply, if you leak line breaks in your own red zone, they will lead to tries. If you spend most of the game in your own red zone, while leaking 5+ line breaks, you will concede a lot of tries. Ergo, their current defensive trendline suggests that the Knights could be in for an offensive feast this weekend.
- With the two worst defenses in the league going head-to-head on a warm Saturday evening, it’s fair to say that we love the overs for the Sharks/Cowboys game (even at the relatively high total of 44.5). So far in 2020, matches between any combination of the Bottom 4 defenses have seen overall points totals completely within the range of 40-62, with an average total of 46.9. Additionally, those figures are dragged down by Cronulla’s slow start to the year, before their offense really got humming. Since Round 6, they’ve accounted for 20+ points on their own in 8 of 10 matches, and cracked 30+ in 5 of them. Coupled with the Sharks’ hilariously awful defense, it’s no surprise that within games in which they’ve scored 20, the overall points total has averaged a ludicrous 56 points per game. As for the winner, the Sharks’ O is certainly better equipped to win a shoot-out, and should be the difference here. But it should be a lot of fun.
- Like hit 90s rom-com Pretty Woman, it’ll be a contrasting tale of two hookers when the Panthers host the Tigers on Saturday night. For Penrith, it’ll be Mitch Kenny holding the fort while Api Koroisau rests his calf. The loss of Api shouldn’t be underestimated – in his only prior absence this year (Week 11 vs the Titans), the Panthers recorded their lowest RMVOA and 3rd-lowest LBVOA of the season. Kenny is a sound defender and honest toiler, but is a significant downgrade creatively with the ball. The loss of Koroisau and star second-rower Viliame Kikau has us downgrading our expectations for the Panthers’ otherwise red-hot offense. Conversely, it’s fair to expect the Tigers to look a little bit sharper with hooker Harry Grant returning from injury. The difference may only be slight, but it’s notable that in games with Grant at hooker, the Tigers’ LBVOA climbs to 9.29%, vs 1.86% without him. Head-to-head, Grant is unquestionably the better of the two hookers we’ll see on Saturday night, but if we learnt anything from Julia Roberts’ Roy Orbison montage, it’s that a hooker’s value changes considerably based on their outfit – and here the difference is stratospheric. While Kenny gets to feed the ball to the league leader in try involvements (Nathan Cleary) and two Top-6 players in try assists (Cleary and Jarome Luai), Grant is stuck providing service to Benji Marshall (a respectable 9th in try involvements) and… Luke Brooks? (A less respectable 59th in try assists.) And that’s before we even get to their respective defenses. The Tigers have fallen off a cliff on that side of the ball, recording a LBCVOA of 31.10% over the past 5 weeks (2nd-worst in the league) on their way to averaging over 32 points conceded per game. In contrast, the Panthers have yet to concede that many points in any game all year. So while Grant may be special, if you think Penrith can’t get it done just because our boy Kenny looks a little rough around the edges, you could be making a big mistake. Huge.
- You can’t get a more spectacular list of “ins” than that of the Storm this week – Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Jesse Bromwich have all parachuted into Melbourne’s team just in time to face a Sea Eagles side coming off one of the most embarrassing efforts in club history. After a down week offensively, we’re expecting the Storm’s attack to immediately improve, and drive the final nail into the coffin of a Manly side who’ve leaked 5+ tries in their past 4 consecutive games.
- We don’t often write much about the Bulldogs (it requires very little analysis to recognise that they aren’t very good), however after erroneously tipping them to win last weekend (sorry), we feel it’s worth pointing out the two most obvious areas in which they need to improve. First, though their defense is generally decent, they have a curious habit of failing to get more than 2 players involved in each tackle. Though this may just be laziness, it happens often enough that we’re inclined to believe it’s been coached – and it has to stop. Failing to get a third man in unsurprisingly affects their ability to control the ruck, resulting in plenty of quick play-the-balls, and opposition sides getting to attack a retreating defensive line. What effect does this have? Well, it’s the primary reason for their league-worst RMCVOA (7.44%), and leaves them susceptible to conceding line breaks (due to the reduced time to get set). Teams with elite RMCVOAs (Melbourne and Penrith, for example) religiously get three men in, and the results speak for themselves. Second, the Bulldogs are SLOW. Typically, teams that create more line breaks score more tries, but that oddly doesn’t apply to Canterbury, who rank a distant last in tries scored. They’ve had no issue creating scoring opportunities, however they lack the speed and polish to do anything with them. The primary culprit in this regard is winger Nick Meaney. Meaney ranks 9th among NRL wingers for line breaks, yet somehow finds himself 26th for try involvements. Hopefully the arrival of Nic Cotric next season means Canterbury fans are no longer subjected to the slow-twitch muscle fibers of Meaney, but still, a backline featuring Will Hopoate, Kerrod Holland and Marcelo Montoya is hardly exciting. No wonder they have their eye on Penrith’s Ferrari, Charlie Staines.