2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 38/56 (68%) [Last week: 7/8]
Margin Betting: 14/24 (58%) [Last week: 3/4]
2016 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 71%
Margin Betting: 54%
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NRL Round 8 Tips and Previews
Raiders v Sea Eagles
Offense VOA: Raiders 31.86% (3rd), Sea Eagles 46.59% (1st)
Defense VOA: Raiders -25.08% (6th), Sea Eagles 4.91% (9th)
Canberra versus Manly is the hottest ticket in town this week, as arguably the NRL’s two most electrifying offenses go head-to-head in Canberra at 6pm (hopefully the public servants can all take flex leave to attend the ludicrously early timeslot).
Canberra have been known as the league’s great entertainers for at least 12 months now, but questions have remained about their ability to aim up in defense. The Raiders put those questions to bed in a brutal Round 7 victory over the Warriors. Sure, the Warriors have been terrible thus far in 2017 (contrary to the mainstream media, who repeatedly declared them to be “in-form” on the back of two unconvincing victories against sub-par opponents), but the sheer domination from the Canberra defense was something to behold. In the past, they’ve been guilty of allowing in cheap tries against inferior opponents (including 3 tries a-piece for Parramatta and the Gold Coast), but against the Warriors, the Raiders displayed a defensive resolve that will hold them in good stead against the tougher sides on the schedule (the try-saver by captain Jarrod Croker on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck may be the best defensive effort we see all year).
For Manly, it’s all becoming a bit predictable. When they lose possession, they hemorrhage points – as they did during a first-half onslaught from the Storm, during which the Storm had over 60% of the ball. When they have the bulk of possession though, they themselves rack up points – as they did during their second half fightback. By the time full-time rolled around, possession was balanced back at 50%, and although Melbourne had won, the scoreline looked a lot more respectable.
There’s plenty of reason to believe Manly could win this match – any team who can put 26 on the Storm is packing some serious firepower (this has only happened once before in well over a year and was the first time they’ve conceded more than 2 tries in 2017). The issue for Manly is the match-up.
Canberra are built with a similar high-velocity offense to Manly, but are also stronger across other areas, in particular their line break defense (LBCVOA -16.31% v 7.23%) and their tackling (TBCVOA -10.24% v 4.96%). The match-up is particularly bad for Manly on their left edge, which was relentlessly abused by the Storm. If they had trouble with Melbourne, wait until they get a load of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana. It could get ugly very quickly.
There’s always the possibility with a high-octane offense such as Manly’s that they could jump out to an early lead and change the make-up the game. But it’s equally as likely that they could get blown out by the Raiders and totally capitulate. Either way, it’ll certainly be entertaining.
Our tip: Raiders