2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 111/152 (73%) (Last week: 5/8)
2020 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: (74%)
2019 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: (64%)
2018 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: (58%)
Line Betting: (46%)
2017 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 66%
Line Betting: 55%
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- After a brief foray into competitive matches, the NRL appears set to return to another relatively predictable week of games. We actually wouldn’t have minded this match-up for the Broncos, given the huge spike in attacking output from their right-edge since the return of Kotoni Staggs, and an opportunity to line up against the porous Knights left-edge. Last weekend, Staggs and right second-rower Jordan Riki combined for 4 line breaks, 3 tries and 1 try assist. Newcastle, meanwhile, gave up all 4 tries down their left (where Enari Tuala, conceder of the league’s 3rd-most tries and 2nd-most line breaks resides). Accordingly, this had the potential to be a plus match-up for Brisbane, and a sneaky shot for a high-paying upset. Unfortunately, Brisbane have lost Staggs for this game, and with him likely goes most of Brisbane’s points. Staggs will be replaced here by Jesse Arthurs, and the comparison of their attacking contributions is… not good. While Staggs has produced 4 line breaks and 20 tackle busts from his 4 starts, Arthurs has so far produced just 3 and 11 respectively, from 10 outings. This will almost certainly result in a drop-off in attacking output for Brisbane, and with Mitch Pearce on his way back into a Newcastle side that just put 34 on Canberra, the Broncos will likely need all the points they can get. We still expect Brisbane to be more competitive than most, but the loss of Staggs is enough to stop us from recommending this as a potential boilover.
- If there was a real tragedy for the Raiders last week, it’s the fact that they actually produced enough points to win against Newcastle, if they had only defended to the standard they’ve set over the past month. The Raiders 10.65% LBCVOA was the worst defense Canberra have produced since getting pumped 44-6 by the Titans in Round 16, and with Canberra ultimately only going down by 12 points against Newie, they really didn’t need to be a lot better to get home. That loss cost the Raiders a spot in the Top 8, and allowed the Knights to climb into a 5-way tie for 7th. It’s particularly disappointing because defense is the only way Canberra have been keeping themselves competitive. Through their past three weeks, the Raiders’ attack has improved to the point where it’s consistent, but not consistently good. Rather, they’ve produced a LBVOA between -13.69% and -27.18% each week – numbers that are good enough to create a few opportunities against bad defenses, but bad enough that they still require either their defense to be on point or a monster possession share to actually win (or both). Against the Dragons, the Raiders will get to face another below-average defense, and even better, an opponent who’s failed to earn more than 45% of the footy for the past 3 weeks. Additionally, the Saints will be without halfback Ben Hunt, without whom they produced their least effective 4-game stretch of the season earlier in the year, where they had a LBVOA of -39.05%, and were fortunate to average 3.25 tries per game. This all shapes as an extremely winnable game for Canberra, and with games against Melbourne, Manly and Sydney all still to come, they simply can not afford to wet the bed again defensively if they’re to be any shot of scraping into the finals.
- Following a visit to Mackay, the Eels are this week returning to the Gold Coast for the next leg of their Top 4 Farewell Tour. Though Eels fans will point to the absence of Mitch Moses as the reason behind their last two clangers (they’ve scored 2 tries combined over their past 2 games), the reality is that they likely wouldn’t have fared much better with him, anyway. We mentioned it earlier in the year, but it warrants repeating: the Eels have been spectacularly bad at producing against elite defenses, and only find themselves 6th in overall scoring courtesy of running up “empty” stats against bad teams in noncompetitive games. On the season, the Eels average 4.5 tries and 5.2 line breaks per game. Not bad, right? But let’s narrow that down to their 6 games against sides with above average defenses. Now, that drops to 2.5 tries per game, and worse, their line breaks per game drop to just 2.2 (showing that their paltry try total is actually on the high side for their production, and could be expected to drop). The Rabbitohs, by the way, rank 3rd in the NRL for defense, and… let’s just say… are not likely to have any issues running down 2.5 tries. In fact, Souths have exceeded 2.5 tries in all but 2 games this season, and have actually exceeded double that for their past 6 straight. In other feats of attacking brilliance, the Rabbits have now hit double-digit line breaks in 6 of their past 8 games (only Melbourne have hit double-digits 6 times all season), and over the past fortnight, they’ve outgained their opponents by a combined total of over 1800m. Frankly, the Rabbitohs are suddenly giving the Storm a real nudge as the best offense in football, and may be better than Penrith overall (we’ll find out soon enough when they meet the Panthers in Round 23). In the meantime, treat yourself to another enjoyable Friday night of watching the Eels getting royally pumped.
- Having called the Warriors upset win over the Tigers a fortnight early before bitching out after half the side went home, you can imagine our immense frustration and self-loathing after New Zealand finally dug out a win (regular readers may recall us tipping Warriors upsets in their 1-point losses to the Cowboys and Dragons, as well as their 4-point loss to the Knights). After cooling off though, it’s hard to be too disappointed with the process – the Tigers actually outperformed the Warriors in line breaks (6 v 4), tackle breaks (37 v 27), run metres (1502 v 1454), offloads (16 v 6), post-contact metres (546 v 476)… the list goes on and on. The inability of the Tigers to actually win a game when everything is going their way shouldn’t distract from the reality: the Warriors, while brave, were a long way below their best. There is room for hope though: this week they get half their starting pack back (Addin Fonua-Blake, Matt Lodge and Josh Curran are all included), as well as half Chanel Harris-Tevita. All of a sudden, this is a team that looks reasonably competitive on paper, and if they bring Adam Pompey off the reserve list into centre (which would free up Peta Hiku to displace Sean O’Sullivan in the halves), they’re suddenly a huge chance. Because, let’s be real – the Sharks aren’t traveling that well. Last week they extended their record to 3-9 without Shaun Johnson at halfback, and he’s not due back for a few weeks yet. Their output was better than expected against Manly, but to put it in perspective, the Tigers produced the same number of tries against Manly the week prior, and actually made more line breaks, tackle breaks and run metres (HOT TIP: you don’t generally want to perform worse than Wests in any form of head-to-head comparison). With question marks over their offense, it’s a terrible time for their D to be struggling, but the Sharks have now produced a woeful LBCVOA of over 53.59% in both their past two matches (worst in the league). We can’t quite bring ourselves to pull the trigger, but this has the potential to be that close, if you’re looking for an upset – this is the game.
- If you had the misfortune of sitting through the Panthers‘ stinker against Melbourne last weekend, you could be forgiven for jumping onto the Roosters here. We’ve been telling you for months that reports of the Roosters’ death have been greatly exaggerated, and their thumping 28-0 victory over Parra should have come as a surprise to no-one. However, that doesn’t immediately place the Roosters in the Panthers’ tier. Though we were thoroughly disappointed by the Panthers’ wafer-thin defense against the Storm (they leaked 6 tries; the 1st time they’ve given up more than 4 in a game all season), that outing needs to be kept in perspective. For a start it was against Melbourne, who are clearly the best team in the league. As clunky and unimpressive as Penrith’s offense was, for example, their 3 line breaks created was actually the 2nd-most the Storm have conceded in a game since Round 10 (and, for what it’s worth, the Roosters managed just 1). Second, the Panthers were missing a stack of troops, several of whom will be back here. Isaah Yeo and Api Koroisau will make the Panthers’ offense instantly better, as will the addition of Tevita Pangai Jr (who Roosters fans will recall ripping through their side single-handedly in the Broncos’ upset win over them in Round 11), while Nathan Cleary has been included on the extended bench. Also, we’ll remind you that Penrith turned in two clunkers against the Tigers and Sharks while under-staffed due to Origin – only to welcome their troops back for a thumping 38-12 flogging of the Roosters in Round 15. In short, the Panthers have already demonstrated that they can bounce straight back to form, and bounce back in style. The only way we’d be tempted to jump on the Roosters would be if Cleary ultimately doesn’t play. Without Cleary and centre Stephen Crichton (suspended) the Panthers will have lost two players who are arguably the best in the league defensively at their respective positions (they’ve combined for 7 tries and 9 line breaks conceded from a whopping 31 combined starts), from the same edge. With defensive liability Brent Naden already in the side, losing Cleary – which in turn forces second-rower Kurt Capewell into centre – leaves some serious question marks over Penrith’s edges. We’d probably still take Penrith, but it would certainly make it a lot more competitive, and would make the current $3.15 price on the Roosters look like a value play.
- Over the course of the past fortnight, the Sea Eagles have shown worrying signs for their defense, despite romping in for relatively comfortable victories. Their LBCVOA over that period is 41.72%, which would place them last in the NRL if extrapolated for the season, and is the worst 2-week period they’ve had all season – including their dismal opening month in which they conceded 39 points-per-game. The good news is that as long as Tom Trbojevic is playing it doesn’t seem to matter (they’ve averaged 51.5 points per game in his past 4 outings); the bad news is that if they produce defensive numbers like that against the Storm, they could very well leak 60. Manly can’t expect to keep winning by dropping enormous scores on everybody, because when they run into the top defenses in the playoffs, those big scores will dry up. We’ve already seen Penrith hold the Turbo-led Eagles to 16, and the distinctly non-elite Knights defense kept them to 10 by starving them of possession. The Storm present just the 2nd elite defense Manly have run into with Turbo in the side, and should they shut Manly down, Melbourne have the attacking brilliance to run up a cricket score. The reason we’d fallen in love with Manly through their recent resurgence was never because of their Turbo-inspired offense, but rather their incredible defensive resurgence. With that D now showing signs of fraying around the edges, this week will provide a good indication of how well they’re actually going heading into the finals.
- As far as “winnable games” go for the Bulldogs, the Tigers are surely the closest thing to fitting that description, particularly after watching them butcher a flood of opportunities against New Zealand. That being said, we’ve already highlighted that the Tigers were nowhere near as bad as they looked, while the Bulldogs remain a long way below NRL-standard. The Dogs’ 6 points scored against the Titans (who have the worst D in the league – yes, even worse than the Tigers) was the tied-least that any team has mustered this year, and made them just the 4th team since Round 4 to fail to score 20 against the Gold Coast. If there’s an upshot for Canterbury it’s that they’ve now hit 4 line breaks for the past 3 games straight (though the Tigers have made 5+ over the same stretch), which is a fair improvement from the 3 combined line breaks they made in their previous 3. Unfortunately, they keep getting badly smoked for field position (they’ve been outgained by 298m+ in their past 6 straight), which reduces the likelihood of those line breaks producing tries (3 of their 4 last week came around halfway), and leaves their below-average defense consistently exposed. Even with Daine Laurie out for the Tigers, we still can’t see the Bulldogs winning a game until they find a way to win between the 20s. They simply don’t have the skill-set to win games otherwise.
- Putting aside the Bunker’s bizarre decision to inject themselves into the game and overturn a fair try to Kyle Feldt, the fact of the matter is that the Cowboys were totally outplayed by Brisbane, and deserved to lose regardless. Had Feldt’s try been given, they very likely win from there, but does anyone really think they would have deserved it? Their left edge was completely dismantled by the Broncos, and Todd Payten got a bit too cute rolling out the Jake Granville fullback experiment for another week (particularly with Ben Hampton in the squad and Daejarn Asi also available). They get Valentine Holmes back this week (solving the fullback issue), but things aren’t going to get any easier for their defense. Though the Titans generally prefer to attack to their left, the Cowboys’ right edge is typically even worse – Feldt has conceded the most line breaks of any player in the NRL this year, and he and Lemuelu (assuming Lemuelu remains on the right this week)have combined to allow 44 breaks from their combined 28 starts. Though the Titans’ own D is every bit as bad as the Cows’, the difference between the two attacking units is significant. The Titans regularly score 30+, while the Cows seem eternally destined to settle at about 18. Given the likelihood of this game devolving into a shoot-out, we’d much rather be on the superior Titans O.