2018 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 60/100 (60%)
Line Betting: 20/42 (48%)
2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 66%
Line Betting: 55%
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NRL Round 14 Tips and Previews
Raiders v Panthers
Offense VOA: Raiders 17.44% (2nd), Panthers -1.50% (8th)
Defense VOA: Raiders 2.57% (11th), Panthers -6.97% (7th)
We were somewhat surprised this week to find that the Raiders have been installed as the bookmakers’ favourites for this clash. Not that we don’t rate Canberra – we’ve been among their most ardent supporters throughout their difficult first half of the season. However, even allowing for the fact that the Raiders have been playing better football than their ladder position indicates, it’s difficult to make a strong argument that they’ve been better than the ladder-leading Panthers. So, we can only assume that the support for the Raiders is due to the sizeable Panthers Origin contingent. On the surface, that makes perfect sense. However, we’re not sure that argument holds up in the face of closer scrutiny.
Starting with the obvious, Tyrone Peachey only played 7 minutes on Wednesday night, so should be feeling fresh as a daisy (in fact, he probably would’ve had to work harder if he were back on Mulgoa Road at the captain’s run). Then, we have the Panthers’ halves, James Maloney and Nathan Cleary. Given their position, we’re not especially concerned with fatigue – neither player is typically expected to make 30+ tackles or double-digit runs anyway (though neither player minds taking the line on). Our main concern here would be either player missing the game entirely. For piece of mind there we can look at a couple things – history, and the team list. In the past two years, from 5 possible opportunities to back up from Origin, Maloney backed up in 4 of them, so in the very least, we shouldn’t assume he’ll sit out (and for what it’s worth, the Panthers are claiming he’ll play). Secondly, looking at the cuts Penrith have made from their squad, it’s noteworthy that they’ve axed reserve half Jarome Luai from the squad – suggesting that at least one of the duo is certain to play (they’ve kept utility half Tyrone May – who you may remember as the guy who filled in for Matt Moylan as the Panthers ran into the 2nd week of last year’s finals).
Finally, the player most likely to suffer the effects of post-Origin fatigue is key middle Reagan Campbell-Gillard. We’d agree that it’s unlikely they get the same minutes they’re used to from the big guy (or the same quality, for that matter), however it’s worth mentioning that the Raiders will also have forward Josh Papalii looking to back up; and Papalii’s combined 38 runs and tackles are identical to Campbell-Gillard’s number. If we assume that fatigue affects both forwards equally, and that Peachey is virtually unaffected, it appears that the real question here should be: who would you rather – a fresh Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer, or a tired James Maloney and Nathan Cleary? Yeah, that’s what we thought, too.
Now that we’ve addressed the team situation, it’s hard to argue too strongly in favour of Canberra. The Raiders’ offense is certainly better than the Panthers’, however their defense has been consistently poor, while the Panthers’ has been typically decent, and lately, impenetrable (the Panthers haven’t conceded a try in their past 2 games combined).
We do think it’ll be competitive, and a vocal home crowd at GIO will surely benefit the Raiders (Penrith have conceded the 2nd most penalties this year). However, try as we might, we just can’t find the evidence to say that the Raiders are better than Penrith. We think they’re very good, yes. But better? It’s tight, but we’re not prepared to say that.
Our tip: Panthers