2020 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 95/128 (74%) (Last week: 5/8)
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’s no secret that the Broncos have been terrible this year, but generally speaking, their issues have been primarily on the defensive side of the ball. After re-shuffling the deck again last weekend and rolling out a Sean O’Sullivan/Tom Deardon halves combination, they somehow managed to butcher their offense as well. The changes resulted in a clunky, error-riddled effort (their 12 errors was their 4th-worst performance of the season) that produced their lowest LBVOA since their 48-0 spanking at the hands of the Tigers in Round 10. Though they’ll surely be better for the run (and the addition of Payne Haas), it gets no easier for them against the league’s 2nd-best defense. Worse still, Brisbane’s trash defense that just got lit up by the Roosters for 12 line breaks and 10 tries, now has to face a Panthers offense that’s made 5 or more line breaks in 7 of the past 8 weeks, and is bolstered by the addition of Viliame Kikau. We may well be reaching through the record books for “most points conceded in a two-week period” by half-time.
- What has happened to the Knights’ attack? After having been one of the most effective offenses in the league through the first 14 weeks, they’ve come to a grinding halt over the past fortnight, creating just 5 line breaks and 3 tries combined against a pair of Bottom 8 defenses (North Queensland and New Zealand). So what’s different? It would be easy to point to the absence of Bradman Best as a reason, were it not for the fact that he was also out for the two weeks prior, in which they ran up totals of 44 and 26 against Manly and Wests. Similarly, you may point to the absence of Daniel Saifiti, however his previous four-week absence was actually the Knights’ highest four-week period for LBVOA of the season (24.93%). Instead, we’d suggest the issue has just been a lack of involvement from their best player, Kalyn Ponga. Ponga’s 28 receipts last weekend were his fewest in any game this year, while the week prior he had his 5th-fewest touches. With Ponga leading his team in try assists, try involvements, line breaks and line break assists, it should go without saying that the more he touches the ball, the better for Newcastle. Since the more time they spend with the ball the more opportunities he’ll have to touch it, step one is winning the possession count. Though the Knights are generally very good for ball-handling (they have the 3rd-fewest errors in the NRL), they can be prone to giving away high penalty counts. Indeed, last weekend, their 12 total penalties conceded resulted in a miniscule 37% possession share, leaving them virtually no chance of winning the contest. Back at home this week, we’re expecting that to improve. Further, they should also win the error count, given they’ve made 8 or fewer errors in 7 matches so far – a mark Cronulla have hit just twice.
- That said, we’re certainly not ruling out the Sharks. With Newcastle recently struggling for points, Cronulla should be liking their chances. However, they’re certainly not without flaws of their own – Cronulla own the 2nd-worst defense in the league, and so appear well-placed to play the Knights’ offense into a little bit of form. To their credit, Cronulla’s defensive effort last weekend was actually their best showing since Round 4. However, that should be put into context. First, the Cowboys threw absolutely nothing at Cronulla – their 2 offloads in an entire game of footy is the lowest recorded this year. Second, despite being one of the Sharks’ best defensive efforts of the season, their LBCVOA of -2.16% for that game has been bettered by Newcastle in all but 3 matches this season. So the question is this: what is more likely – that the Knights offense can return to their season average level (in which case, they should run up a score), or the Sharks defense improves even further, despite already being at their season peak? In tipping Newcastle, we’re guessing that both sides regress towards their season averages, but we can understand people arguing otherwise.
- Nobody in their right mind would have tipped the Rabbitohs this week anyway, but we just want to highlight what a huge loss Latrell Mitchell will be for the Bunnies. Fact: the 2 games Mitchell missed earlier in the season are the only 2 games the Rabbitohs have lost since Round 8. They’re also the team’s two lowest scores in that period (12 and 18), and include the team’s lowest and 4th-lowest LBVOA since Round 6. Quite simply, without Mitchell, their offense didn’t look the same, and struggled badly to create tries. That said, we expect to see more change in their offensive structure this time around. Though it’ll still be Alex Johnston taking Latrell’s place, the difference is that this time, they know Mitchell is gone for the year. There were never going to be wholesale changes to the side’s attacking structure last time, knowing Mitchell would be back in a fortnight. Now, though, they don’t have a choice. As the league-leader in line break assists, the Rabbitohs’ running game was built entirely around Mitchell, and to put it bluntly, Johnston simply doesn’t have the playmaking skill-set to fill that role. As a result, the team will need to adjust their attacking shapes, and will likely lean on Cody Walker to pick up the slack. This isn’t hopeless, but it’s going to take time – and a single week before playing the league’s best defense is unlikely to be enough.
- Long-time readers will have heard this before: where line breaks are, tries will soon follow. You can often spot an incoming offensive breakout before it happens by identifying a team with huge line break numbers but an oddly low try tally. The Titans look like the perfect such candidate. Over the past four weeks, they’ve created an incredible 38 line breaks (most in the league), yet have scored just 15 tries (8th). This try-to-line break ratio (0.39) is absurdly low (after the Titans, the next lowest such ratio is 0.71), and will almost inevitably correct itself. And there’s no better team to face for such a correction than the Bulldogs, who concede the most tries per line break in the league (0.91). Should this ratio fall somewhere in the middle here, we’d expect the Titans to have about 4 tries in them – a total the Bulldogs have only reached twice all year. In short, we quite like the Titans, and think they’re well priced.
- The great big mystery game of Week 17 will see the Sea Eagles host the Tigers at Lottoland. Both these sides have seen their defenses fall off a cliff over the past month or so. In the case of Manly, they’ve lost 5 straight, conceding 26+ on each occasion. Typically, their issues begin with bad field position (they were outgained by at least 299m in 4 of those losses), from which they either get beaten via line breaks, or kicks in behind their wingers. With a makeshift backline on tap here (Reuben Garrick has joined the rest of their starters on the sideline), we’d suggest the edges are the place to attack – rookie Albert Hopoate was abused by the Storm last week, leaking 3 breaks in a single game of footy. He’ll be targeted this week by Wests’ left edge, Leuciano Leilua and Adam Douehi (who just quietly are 33rd and 8th in the league for tackle breaks). But are we confident picking the Tigers? Oh gosh, no. It’s hard to feel confident when Wests have been every bit as ordinary. Like Manly, they too have won just 1 of their last 6, and are now on a 6-game streak conceding 26+. However, unlike the Sea Eagles, Wests have at least shown some aptitude with the footy. While Manly have registered 3 or fewer line breaks for 3 weeks on the trot, to find 3 such occasions for Wests you’d have to go all the way back to Round 5. Though we completely understand the inclination to back Manly, if we’re being honest, it seems more like a tip built on reputation than anything they’ve done on the field – and when you look at their team list, you’ll realise that what they’re trotting out looks very little like the Manly you remember.
- You may recall that the last time the Raiders and Roosters met, Canberra pulled Sydney’s pants down with a huge upset, the week after losing Josh Hodgson to an ACL tear. That loss marked the start of a pretty ordinary 5-week stretch for Sydney, in which they dropped 2 games, and managed unconvincing wins over Bottom-8 sides the Titans, Warriors and Dragons. However, they’re playing a lot better now. Through that five-week period, the Roosters averaged a woeful LBVOA of -17.30%; in the two weeks since? 135.44%. Now, they’re getting back Luke Keary and Angus Crichton, and debuting Sonny Bill Williams. We’re not expecting another boilover here.
- Though they keep surprising us, we’re tipping the other shoe to finally drop for the Warriors this week. Not because their opponent is traveling particularly well; if anything, the Eels have been dreadful for the past month or so. Rather, we think they’ll finally fall victim to their dire player shortage. In scenes reminiscent of Australia recalling Paul Reiffel to carry the drinks against Australia A back in the 94/95 summer of cricket, the Eels have recalled George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro for this clash, but won’t actually be using them. For the record, we don’t blame Parramatta one bit – they’ve been doing the Warriors a huge favour, and with their Top 4 spot teetering, it’s a no-brainer that they don’t want to see their own players used against them. But they’re big outs. Jennings, for example, has been in career-best form – he sits 3rd on the Warriors for line breaks, despite having made just 5 appearances. Similarly, Alvaro has been a useful addition to a side light on for forwards, sitting 2nd in the team for tackle efficiency, and making just a single error in 5 games. Gerard Beale is an enormous downgrade from Jennings offensively, and the side are so light for middles that they couldn’t even name 21 healthy players on Tuesday. Even allowing for losing Dylan Brown to injury, if Parramatta can’t win this one, they might as well give it away.
- There are plenty of reasons why the Cowboys are terrible, with the most obvious ones being on the defensive side of the ball. But with the loss of Jason Taumalolo, the Cows may be in just as big a hole on offense, too. Without Taumalolo against the Sharks, the Cows registered an unimpressive -7.08% RMVOA (good enough to be the worst in the league), on their way to getting outgained by 422m. With limited field position and a shocking inefficiency at generating line breaks (their 4 was the equal-fewest the Sharks have conceded since Round 2), it’s little wonder they were held to just 12 points. With the Cowboys boasting the worst defense in the league, any questions at all about their offense makes them virtually impossible to tip.