2019 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 86/136 (63%) (Last week: 7/8)
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.)
- The Sharks chalked up yet another loss-despite-scoring-the-most-tries effort last weekend in New Zealand. Though the result was disappointing, it’s worth noting that the Sharks still found themselves in a winnable position (they led by 8 points with 20 minutes remaining) despite earning just a 40% share of possession. Granted, a good chunk of that possession difference was self-inflicted (they made 15 errors and conceded 9 penalties, for a start), but nonetheless, it’s remarkable that they were able to compete at all under those circumstances, let alone hold one of the league’s better offenses to just 2 tries. Of course it makes us nervous that they’re about to play the Cowboys (who’ve won 50% or more of the ball in 12 of 17 matches this year), but we can take some confidence from the fact that even if they don’t get a lot of footy, they’re still good enough to be thereabouts for a win.
- We actually think that the Knights-Tigers game has the potential to be a lot more competitive than the bookies’ odds suggest. If we were to try and pinpoint exactly where the Knights season began wobbling, we’d go all the way back to their Week 13 win over South Sydney. In that outing, they made 12 errors and conceded 13 penalties – beginning a 6-week stretch of negative possession shares, during which they’ve won just 2 games. From there, things only got worse, as injuries and poor results led to a constant chopping-and-changing of their edges, which took a toll on their defense (they’ve conceded 23 tries in their past 5 games). The positives here are that Nathan Brown has named an unchanged squad for the first time since the rot began, and the fact that their 5 penalties conceded last weekend was their lowest since Round 5. If their defense begins to improve, and their discipline earns them a fair share of possession, they should be comfortably too good for the Tigers.
- However. We can’t neglect to mention for as shambolic as the Tigers’ ball handling was against Canberra (Michael Maguire blew a fuse post-game, no doubt in large part due to his side’s abysmal 17 errors), their line break offense was actually alright (when they weren’t dropping it). The Tigers registered 7 line breaks against Canberra, marking the 3rd week on the trot that they’ve made 5 or more. These opportunities haven’t led to tries yet (they’ve scored just 3 tries per game through this period), but if they can keep it up, it’s certainly plausible that they could really put up a score.
- Serious question: what the f@#% is Paul McGregor thinking?! Look, as a general rule, any team without Matt Dufty in it gets a big thumbs-up from The Obstruction Rule. But seriously – despite external suggestions that he should start Corey Norman at fullback and Gareth Widdop at five-eighth in his full-strength team (in order to preserve the excellent rapport Widdop and Ben Hunt built last year), McGregor stuck to his guns and did the reverse – choosing to start the year with Widdop at the back, and to begin forging a new partnership between Norman and Hunt. Good for him. He’s the coach, and it’s completely his right to choose the combination that he believes will work the best. But if that’s what he believed back then (that Widdop at fullback and Norman at five-eighth was the way to go) why one earth would he now – with Widdop making a surprise return from what was thought to be a season-ending shoulder injury – flip them around? If he believes this is the better spine, why didn’t he roll with it in Rounds 1-3? And if he didn’t believe it to be the better combination then, why would it have changed now – after Norman and Hunt have spent three-quarters of a season building a new combination of their own, and with Widdop not having played for over three months (if ever you wanted to hide him at the back, surely now’s the time)? Honestly, we can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be to be a Dragons supporter.
- We expect the Eels to have their hands full against the Warriors (if we were to have a punt on a long-shot this week, New Zealand would probably be it), but are optimistic that we’re about to see a decent showing for two main reasons. Firstly, they’re at BankWest (and as any Parramatta fan will tell you, that’s pretty much all the reason you need). But secondly, the addition of Waqa Blake from the Panthers suddenly gives the Eels a superb edge defender, tightening up an area of weakness. Consider this: though Blake was having a reasonably disappointing season at Penrith (that culminated in him getting Wally Pipped by Brent Naden), he still has the highest tackle efficiency of any regular member of the Eels backline (84%). He’s conceded less tries than any of Josh Hoffman, Blake Ferguson, Maika Sivo and Mitchell Moses, and that’s despite playing for a Penrith side that couldn’t win a game for two months. Here, he comes into a side who’ve been getting burned week-in-week-out for 6 weeks (during which they’ve had a league-worst LBCVOA of 36.40%). Put simply, we think Blake makes the Eels a whole lot better, particularly in their biggest area of weakness.
- The Sea Eagles may be the hottest offense in the league right now, but that still isn’t enough for us to tip them against the Storm. For a start, their defense is still fundamentally poor, it’s simply been getting protected by dominant possession shares (Manly have earned 51% or more of the possession for the past 4 weeks straight – a period in which they’ve conceded less than 3 tries per game). The problem? The fact that Manly’s possession success is barely of their own doing. Let’s compare Manly to a side who similarly depends on possession for success – the Cowboys. While North Queensland consistently earn possession through good discipline (they’ve made single-digit errors in 11 matches this year, and have conceded the lowest number of penalties in the competition), the Sea Eagles have been atrocious. They have the 3rd-worst handling in the NRL, and have conceded the 3rd-most penalties. Quite simply, their possession shares have been largely the result of their opposition doing poorly, moreso than anything they’ve done themselves (the fact they’ve conceded just 3 drop-outs in 4 weeks has certainly helped).
- Finally, if you’re a fan of rugby league you should clear your diary for Sunday afternoon and make sure you’re somewhere you can see the Panthers and Raiders clash. Unlike the last time these sides played, this game will see two of the most in-form sides in the league going toe-to-toe at Panthers Stadium. Yes, the Raiders came out on top last time, but that was back when the Panthers were terrible, and even then they managed to put 7 line breaks on the Canberrans – they simply butchered too many tries. Historically, the Panthers have a strong recent record against Canberra, winning 4 of their last 5, while scoring an average of 28 points-per-game in their wins. With Penrith having developed a recent taste for blood (they’ve scored 14 tries in their past 3 games) and solved the riddle of how to use Jarome Luai (after he came off the bench as a 3rd playmaker, the Dragons immediately conceded 3 tries in the 12 minutes that followed), we’re optimistic that they’ll have plenty of points in them again here, even allowing for the absurd suspension of Viliame Kikau (good grief, the NRL are dead-set kidding themselves). In front of a packed home crowd, we’re expecting the Panthers to sneak home in an absolute belter.