2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 68/99 (69%) [Last week:7/7]
Line Betting: 27/47 (57%) [Last week: 1/2]
2016 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 71%
Line Betting: 54%
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NRL Round 14 Tips and Previews
Sharks v Storm
Offense VOA: Sharks -4.17% (8th), Storm 30.87% (3rd)
Defense VOA: Sharks -40.09% (2nd), Storm -48.39% (1st)
Sharks v Storm is fast becoming to kids of this generation what Storm/Sea Eagles was to kids of the 00s, or Raiders/Broncos was to kids of the 90s. After a few years of total Storm dominance (and we do mean total dominance – the Storm’s average winning margin from 2013-15 was 30 points), the Sharks have been a thorn in the Storm’s side for the past 18 months, winning 3 of their last 4 meetings, including that one meeting that mattered most of all. The Sharks are one of just two teams to have beaten the Storm this year (the other being the Titans, in one of the great aberrations), and in doing so, became the first team to keep the Storm tryless since the Roosters did it in Round 12, 2015.
But do we actually think they’re better than Melbourne? In short, no.
The Sharks are a very good rugby league team, no doubt. They compete with the Storm largely on the back of an elite forward pack, who don’t allow the Storm to control the ruck with the sort of ease with which they do against most opponents. The Sharks also feature an elite defense, with which they’re able to keep games close, and as we know, close games wind up being typically decided by little more than luck.
But a short term winning head-to-head record doesn’t make the Sharks better than the Storm (and if Will Chambers passed it to Cooper Cronk, we wouldn’t be having this conversation). The Storm are currently a better football team right across the board. Their offense is lights out better than the Sharks (Cronulla’s offense has been held to 3 tries or less in 9 out of 12 games this season; it’s only happened to Melbourne 4 times). Melbourne execute their set plays better, courtesy of the best spine in the NRL. Both defenses are exceptional, and choosing one over the other is largely a matter of personal preference – the Sharks aggressive line speed is awesome, but is it better than the Purple Wall? Probably not.
But it is close. So close, in fact, that the absence of a single key player could prove the difference. And therein lies the rub. With the Storm opting to rest Cooper Cronk for the biggest game of the year so far, we just can’t tip them. With the biggest difference between the sides being their offenses, the absence of one of the game’s best halfbacks is a deal-breaker. The Storm very well may still win (how many tries is Cronk worth to Melbourne, anyway?), but in light of that information, we believe the safest option is to take Cronulla.
Our tip: Sharks