2018 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 9/16 (56%)
Line Betting: 3/6 (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 3 Tips and Previews
Storm v Cowboys
Offense VOA: Storm 38.21% (1st), Cowboys -17.84% (13th)
Defense VOA: Storm -43.11% (1st), Cowboys 21.00% (14th)
Oh my good lord, the Storm were bad last week. As in, Roosters in Week One bad. We don’t know what came over them, but this was easily the worst game the Storm have played in over 12 months, and sits alongside Parramatta as the worst anyone’s played so far this season. But still, they were actually winning with 2 minutes to go. Yes, this partially points to the crumminess of the Tigers, but we’ll get to them later. For now, let’s just appreciate how good a team the Storm are, that even when they’re at their very worst, they’re still somehow competitive. (The Eels, for example, were not competitive. Nope. Not for a minute. Not even a little bit.)
So no, we’re not concerned about the Storm, and we’d be shocked if they were to serve up another bludger of a game like that this week (or this year, for that matter). What we are beginning to get a little bit concerned about though, is the Cowboys.
Their offense has at best looked ho-hum through their first two outings, which is partially explained by the absence of Michael Morgan (who at time of writing has been named to return), and the consistently under-rated Lachlan Coote. However, they do still have this bloke named Johnathan Thurston (we hear he’s pretty good), so the simple, forward-dominated attacking structure in the opposition 20 is a tad disappointing (and, it would appear, is getting a bit stale).
The real concern for us though, is their defense. A year ago, the Cowboys had an unfortunate tendency to allow line breaks through the middle third of the field, and at the time, we put it down to the shortage of troops in their engine room. However, that’s no longer the case, and yet the Broncos were able to easily punch holes through the belly of the Cowboys (3 of the Broncos’ line breaks came between the numbers), and similarly, the Sharks were able to attack the Cowboys up the middle the week before (when they weren’t dropping the pill). This was an area where we’d thought the return of Matt Scott would clean up, but so far this season, he’s been missing some disappointingly soft tackle attempts, and actually sits equal with Johnathan Thurston – a halfback – for the most missed tackles in the team (8). He’s deserves a long leash on account of all he’s accomplished in the game, but given his advancing age (he’s 32) and the severity of the injury he’s returning from, we can’t help wondering if his best days are behind him (he obviously needs longer than two weeks to be judged, we’re just raising the issue).
And now, they get the Storm, a team just as capable of tearing you open up the middle via Billy Slater, as they are of going around you with their Fijian wingers. We really like the Cowboys this year, but we just can’t get excited about them this week. We have genuine concerns about their defense, and if their forwards don’t really aim up, there’s a chance they may actually get torched.
Our tip: Storm