2018 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 100/168 (60%)
Line Betting: 36/75 (48%)
2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 66%
Line Betting: 55%
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NRL Round 23 Tips and Previews
Broncos v Rabbitohs
Offense VOA: Broncos 10.50% (4th), Rabbitohs 42.79% (1st)
Defense VOA: Broncos -8.08% (5th), Rabbitohs -15.05% (3rd)
Having spent the better part of the last month arguing that the Broncos’ offense isn’t as good as people think it is, we’re taking a different position this week – that their defense isn’t as bad as its recently looked, either.
Regular readers will recall us making the point that the Broncos’ recent trend of scoring more tries than they make line breaks was unsustainable – and we were right (over their last 2 weeks, they’ve scored 8 tries compared to 11 line breaks, returning the ratio to almost exactly their season average). However, that hasn’t been why they’ve been losing. Rather, the reason for the Broncos’ recent stumbles can be pointed to the reverse problem – that is, that they’ve been conceding unusually more tries than they’ve been conceding line breaks.
With it an established fact that over a large enough sample size, it’s rare to score more tries than you make line breaks (no team has done so this year; the Storm have the best ratio, having scored 9% less tries than they’ve made breaks); it naturally follows that it’s unusual for anyone to concede drastically more tries – however that’s exactly what’s happened to Brisbane. Though they’ve otherwise been reasonably good defensively over the past fortnight (both their LBCVOA and TBCVOA have been above average), they’ve somehow managed to lose because although they’ve allowed just 7 combined line breaks over two weeks, they’ve somehow conceded 11 tries.
So how did this happen? Against the Bulldogs, it was as simple as conceding 3 tries from kicks (though only the first was particularly unlucky), while against the Cowboys, the Jason Taumalolo try came from a freak error on a Darius Boyd kick return, while two more came from kicks – including the most outrageously unlucky bounce for Anthony Milford. Yes, Boyd’s positional play at fullback does leave them susceptible to a grubber behind the line, but regardless, they’d be unlucky if this trend continues; and if it stops, they’re in with a big shout here.
The Rabbitohs’ backline has been decimated beyond recognition, and it showed in their offensive performance last weekend. Though we acknowledge that they were facing the best defense in the league, the Rabbitohs’ 2 line breaks was nonetheless the least they’ve made since Round 2, and came despite a wealth of possession (55%) and a dominant display from their forwards (5 of whom made over 100m, including a phenomenal 222m effort by Tom Burgess). If they can’t get much going under conditions like that, they’re not likely to be any more favourable here, where the Broncos are effectively playing for their season (remember, they’re only 1 win clear of Wests, and have a date with the league-leading Roosters next week).
The Rabbitohs’ offense will no doubt be better this weekend for having spent the week working on their new combinations, however, the question is how much better they’ll be. We fancy the Broncos have a few points in them here, and if they can just have a bit more luck on defense, we’ll back them in for the upset.
Our tip: Broncos