2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 102/136 (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.)
- Sea Eagles
- After ripping apart Manly and Parramatta for 11 line breaks each, it was no surprise to see the Rabbitohs crash back to earth without their star fullback Latrell Mitchell, and against the premier defense in the NRL. That being said, they certainly weren’t terrible. Most impressive to us was their continued improvement on D. On the season, the Bunnies have been slightly above average in the key defensive metrics of LBCVOA (-7.94%) and TBCVOA (-9.49%). However, if we narrow that down to just their past 4 weeks, they suddenly begin to look elite. Over that period, their numbers are -29.68% and -18.84%, respectively – placing them 2nd and 1st in the league. If this trend continues, their improved defense may well counterbalance any Mitchell-related drop in offensive output, and keep them in the tier just below Melbourne, Penrith and Sydney. It’ll get another good test this weekend against the Tigers, who crept into the Top 5 offenses with their 8th score of 24+ against the Sea Eagles last weekend. If it holds up, the Tigers’ woeful D should take care of the rest; but as we often point out, the Tigers’ do have the attacking aptitude to punish a poor effort, which is enough to stop us short of considering the outcome a lock.
- No Keiran Foran, no chance. That’s our summarised position for the Bulldogs. Foran has been herculean in his efforts to carry his side this year, and his production is unlikely to be replaced by… *checks notes* Jake Averillo. Let’s consider what they have to replace: despite having missed three games (and failed to finish a fourth), Foran has had a hand in 19 of his side’s 39 tries in 2020, providing the assist in 13 of those. He’s created 15 line break assists – almost triple the next best option (Will Hopoate and Jeremy Marshall-King, with 6 each) – and somehow even leads his team in metres-per-carry, despite hobbling around the field like a geriatric. The Bulldogs are the worst attacking team in the competition with him – it’s difficult to imagine just how bad they’ll be without him. Casting our minds back to the opening three weeks of the season (in which Foran was absent), it makes for unhappy reading – they scored just 4 tries combined in 3 games, with a LBVOA of -58.26%. Yes, the Sea Eagles are shit, and have leaked 26+ for 6 weeks in a row, but it would take an extraordinary surge in Canterbury’s productivity for that to become 7.
- We certainly weren’t whelmed by anything the Panthers did against Brisbane last weekend (though we note that they did still manage to win by 13), but whatever disappointment they caused seemed to stem primarily from their ultra-conservative gameplan more than anything else. It was immediately obvious that Penrith had come into the match committed to working exclusively through the middle third of the field, with Nathan Cleary turning the ball inside so much, he would have brought back bad memories of Luke Walsh to long-time Panthers fans. This is reflected in their numbers – against Brisbane, Penrith has 7 forwards make double-digit runs, with James Fisher-Harris topping the group with 24(!). The week earlier against Wests, there was 3. And when the ball gets turned back inside, it naturally comes at the expense of the guys on the outside, with Stephen Crichton in particular seeing his touches drop from 16 against Cronulla, to just 7 last weekend. Suffice to say that if you’re not getting the ball to your top attacking weapons, you’re surely aware that your offensive output will be adversely affected. That being said, they weren’t the only side to slip into an attacking coma last weekend. Compare the following numbers:
- Team A) LBVOA: -68.68% RMVOA: 5.10%
- Team B) LBVOA: -45.57% RMVOA: 5.97%
The top team was the painfully conservative Panthers. The second? The Roosters. Our point here isn’t to say that Penrith were good. They weren’t. Rather it’s to say that they were boring because they chose to be boring, and weren’t considerably worse than their main competition (and nobody’s calling the Roosters pretenders). They’ll be fine.
- As for the Eels, we don’t like this matchup for them one bit. The issue here is that the Eels’ offense is built to attack on the back of quick play-the-balls, rolling through the middle third of the field. This was particularly glaring against the Warriors, with Parra’s offense coming to a grinding halt the moment that Joseph Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard came off the field (indeed, they haven’t scored a try without them on the field since putting one past Melbourne’s reserve grade side in Round 15, and have just 3 combined since Round 12). The issue here is twofold: the Panthers’ offense doesn’t slow down at all when their bench rotation comes on (working backwards, the Panthers have scored 3, 3, 3 and 2 tries over the past 4 weeks with their bench forwards on the field), and also their run defense (2nd in the league for RMCVOA) is notoriously good at slowing down the ruck, taking away Parramatta’s go-forward. Last time they met, the Eels needed six minutes of miracles to pull it out of the fire after getting dominated for the opening hour. We’re not counting on that happening again.
- The Titans and Broncos is suddenly shaping as the game of the round, with the Gold Coast on a 2-game winning streak (their longest such streak since Rounds 5 & 6 last year), and the Broncos showing some signs of life against Penrith. We’ve been writing for weeks about the Titans’ offensive improvement, but Brisbane are better than you think with the ball, too. Since their 48-0 thrashing at the hands of the Tigers, Brisbane have actually posted an impressive LBVOA of 20.96% (which would place them 4th on the season). So, why are they stuck in the middle of an 8-game losing streak? Well, there’s two reasons. First, they constantly find themselves on the wrong side of the possession count. Through that 7-week period, Brisbane have won the possession count just once (by a slim 51-49), with an average possession share of just 46%. This is caused partly by their absurdly bad discipline (they average 10 total penalties per game, worst in the league), and also a total inability to generate repeat sets (as a team, they rank dead last for forced drop-outs; incidentally, they’ve forced 2 or more drop-outs in just 3 games all year… and won 2 of them). This is bad news for Brisbane, but wonderful news for the Titans, who’ve won just 1 from 10 when they’ve lost the possession battle. The other major issue for Brisbane is that their defense is simply horrendous. Prior to last week, they’d conceded 6+ line breaks for 7 weeks in a row; and before you get carried away with their effort against Penrith, we’ll stop you there. As we explained above, Penrith inexplicably focused their attack through the middle third of the Broncos’ D… but that isn’t where they struggle. Rather, Brisbane’s issues lie on their edges – and they didn’t do anything terribly impressive there, they simply weren’t tested. Brisbane somehow manage to have 4 players within the NRL’s worst 20 for line breaks conceded, and all play on the edge (Herbie Farnworth, Brodie Croft, Xavier Coates and Kotoni Staggs). Though Croft (and possibly Coates) won’t be there, it’s nonetheless obvious where teams should be attacking. And if there’s one thing the Titans do extremely well, it’s hit those edges. Outside backs Anthony Don, AJ Brimson and Corey Thompson rank 18th, 21st and 23rd in the league respectively for line breaks, they just need to get better at converting them into tries. With plenty of ball and an attacking style built to hit the Broncos’ biggest weakness, this looks like a good matchup for the Gold Coast – if their defense can hold up.
- If you’re wondering why the Knights look so juicily priced coming off their dominant thumping of Cronulla, the answer is that Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett and Hymel Hunt have all been rested. We’d suggest looking elsewhere.
- There’s certainly an argument to be made that the Warriors are well priced for their knockout tilt against the Sharks this weekend, but we’re only on board if Shaun Johnson is ultimately ruled out. As surprisingly good as New Zealand have been, they remain hugely inconsistent on D, and have only turned in 2 above average attacking performances all year (against Canterbury and Newcastle). Picking them would require putting your faith in their defense – which has been hit-and-miss all season, and is facing one of the real high-octane offenses of the competition this week. Sure, Cronulla were terrible last weekend, but their defense is always terrible – they rank 2nd last in the competition. There real issue was that their offense didn’t turn up to dig them out of trouble, something that should be aided by the return of Johnson. Prior to losing Johnson, the Sharks had scored 12 or less points just twice in their first 14 matches; without him, it happened twice from 3. Johnson has been in irresistible form in 2020, ranking 1st in the league for try assists. Without him, Cronulla were a shell of themselves. Assuming he’s back – and he has been named – we have far more faith in Cronulla’s offense than we do gambling on the Warriors’ ability to punish Cronulla’s crummy D (they’ve played 5 games against bottom-5 defenses, scoring 20+ 3 times, but 12 or less twice).