2018 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 4/8 (50%)
Line Betting: 1/2 (50%)
2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 66%
Line Betting: 55%
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A quick note on the early round stats: The nature of our VOA-based NRL statistics is that they naturally require a league average as a starting point, thus the smaller the sample size, the less accurate these stats will be. However, to satisfy our readers, we’ll publish the stats and associated projections from Round 1 (despite a persistent letter-writing campaign, I’m yet to find any major footy tipping outlets who are willing to start their competitions from Round 10…). In order to do this, we’re forced to use the 2017 database as the foundation for the stats, and as the weeks pass these will be combined with the new season’s numbers and weighted progressively less each week until the numbers used are entirely from 2018. We can’t guarantee that this method is necessarily going to be effective (although we tried it last year and it was surprisingly successful, the level of player turnover this off-season is unprecedented, and likely to greatly affect the outcomes), but it’s the only way we can think of to present the data in the early rounds without it being totally skewed by an insufficient sample size. In short, for at least the first month it is best to consider our stats as purely for entertainment purposes. They may prove accurate (we’ll review them later in the season), but the method remains firmly in the testing phase.
NRL Round 2 Tips and Previews
Sharks v Dragons
Offense VOA: Dragons 22.71% (2nd), Sharks -21.41% (13th)
Defense VOA: Dragons 0.90% (8th), Sharks -3.39% (7th)
In last week’s preview, we flagged the possibility that the new-look Sharks offense had a potentially very low floor, but even we underestimated just how bad the Sharks offense would look.
Like a few teams in Week One, Cronulla’s offense looked clunky and disjointed, and their flaws were amplified by a forward pack that was getting pretty well dominated by the Cowboys. It was fortunate for Cronulla that the Cowboys were themselves actually having a scratchy outing with the ball, or the night could have easily become embarrassing.
The good news for the Sharks is that this week should hopefully bring with it some improvement. The hot talking point from last week’s loss has been the disappointing performance of Valentine Holmes at fullback (an issue that we raised in our Season Preview a week and a half ago), and rightly so. To that end, Sharks coach Flanagan will reportedly shuffle Josh Dugan to fullback, Holmes to the wing, and Aaron Gray into the centres. We love these moves, and expect Cronulla to look significantly improved as a result.
The bad news, however, is that their offense will most definitely need to be humming, because if there’s one team in the league whose offense is already firing, it’s the Dragons. While Brisbane stumbled along similarly to Cronulla last week, the Dragons ran riot, with Ben Hunt adding the gravy to the sizzling, hot beef of the Dragons engine room. Maybe we’re just suckers (we bought into the Dragons early last season as well, and we all remember how that turned out), but the Dragons looked mighty impressive. They were doing all the same things as in 2017 – rolling over the top of teams in the middle of the field, then attacking back-pedaling defenses back through the ruck – but they just seemed a lot more composed doing it. They looked sharp, and the combination of Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop looked like a match made in rugby league heaven. Granted, it was only one game, but they really were exceptional.
And they were impressive in all the ways that the Sharks were underwhelming. While Cronulla’s forwards were beaten up by the Cows, the Dragons looked terrifyingly dominant. While the Sharks were killing themselves with mistakes, the Dragons looked reasonably crisp, making the 5th least errors of the opening weekend (10).
We don’t think Cronulla will remain as poor as they were against North Queensland (they couldn’t possibly), but they have a lot of ground to make up on St George. Their re-modeled spine is a massive step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to outpoint the Red Vee.
Our tip: Dragons