2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 13/16 (81%) (Last week: 6/8)
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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- Week 3 kicks off with a Grand Final rematch between the Panthers and the Storm, and we don’t mind the Panthers’ shot at sweet redemption. Speaking broadly, the Storm actually aren’t a bad match-up for Penrith – indeed, the Panthers turned in the worst 70 minutes of football imaginable in last year’s decider and still somehow finished up tied at 4 tries a piece. The Storm’s strength is hands-down their defense, but with the Panthers still yet to concede a point in 2021, there’s an argument that that the Panthers are actually better in that regard (especially with the Storm conceding an unusually high 3 tries-per-game over the opening fortnight). Like the Storm, Penrith like to muscle up and dominate through the middle of the field, and here they’ll get a shot at a Melbourne pack missing key men Dale Finucane and Felise Kaufusi, with Nelson Asofa-Solomona also under a cloud. They’ll like their chances of dominating field position, which should lead to a greater share of attacking opportunities. Yes, their attack is will be impacted by the absences of Nathan Cleary and Api Koroisau, but let’s be clear: the Storm are without Harry Grant and Ryan Papenhauzen themselves, and since their season-opening 20-minute blitzkrieg against South Sydney they actually haven’t been particularly dangerous (in their past 120 minutes of football, they’ve scored just 2 tries and 16 points). The loss of Cleary will sting, but this was never likely to be a high-scoring affair – if you’re backing the Panthers, you’re backing their all-World defense to get them home. After having a whole summer to stew over their Grand Final loss, we fully expect them to be up for this in front of their home crowd – Cleary or not.
- After originally fancying that we wouldn’t be picking the Dragons all year, we’ve been forced to change our tune relatively quickly. St George-Illawarra certainly haven’t been impressive per se, but they have at least been competitive – something that can’t be said of the Sea Eagles. Through two weeks, Manly’s D has been absolutely shredded, conceding a whopping 17 line breaks, while the unsexy Dragons have allowed… 4. Total. Granted, the Sea Eagles have also played two of the best offenses in football, but those sorts of numbers are nonetheless totally unacceptable. Des Hasler teams are notoriously ordinary in attack and depend on their defenses to be competitive; but with their struggling offense hampered by the continued absence of Tom Trbojevic and their pathetic forward pack seeing them outgained by 699m over two weeks, their D needs to be really good to put them in with any sort of chance to compete in matches. And so far in 2021, it’s fair to say that they haven’t been.
- Friday night’s second game pits the aforementioned best offenses in the league against one another, in what should be must-watch television for try-scoring enthusiasts. The Roosters have been in superb touch so far in 2021, scoring a league-high 86 points (an incredible 34 more points than the 2nd-ranked teams, Penrith and Newcastle; meanwhile five different teams have yet to score 34 points, total). Here, they’ll be adding Victor Radley and Angus Crichton to the side that hammered Wests last weekend, in a gamewhere they punished the Tigers for an ill-disciplined 13 error effort. In the Rabbitohs, they get an opponent who’ve made the most errors in the competition through two weeks, including 15 last weekend against Manly. The Rabbitohs will need to quickly clean that up if they’re to make this game competitive, and even then, you’d have to think they’ll be overpowered by a Sydney side hoping to avenge their embarrassing 60-8 loss from their previous meeting. We like Sydney, and could see them doing it comfortably if they get going.
- The price on the Warriors looks quite enticing for Saturday afternoon’s encounter with the Raiders ($4.25 at time of writing). New Zealand are a team with some pretty severe attacking limitations and are now without halfback Chanel Harris-Tevita, but they’ve been defensively sound through the opening weeks, and last week proved that they can hang with a Top 8-quality side. The Raiders, meanwhile, were slugging away in an ugly race-to-the-bottom with Cronulla. After having the game well in control at half-time, the Raiders turned in one of their worst halves of football in recent memory, inviting Cronulla back into the match with a woeful 53% completion rate, that saw them limited to a meagre 37% second-half possession share. With that context, it’s almost miraculous that they were still able to find a way to win (even if that way was just “stand in the in-goal and watch Chad Townsend”). We don’t expect Canberra to be anywhere near as bad again here, and are tipping them accordingly. But, if they were to replicate that performance, the Warriors have shown themselves to be good enough to compete – which makes their price a little enticing.
- It’s generally difficult to find much positive to write about a side in the middle of a club-record losing streak, but let’s throw them a bone: the Broncos’ offense actually isn’t looking that bad. Despite being soundly beaten in back-to-back starts (and if you include last season, back-to-back-to-back…) their issues so far have been almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball; with the footy in hand, they actually look alright. They rank 6th in the league for LBVOA, and 5th for RMVOA – numbers that compare favourably to the Bulldogs’ 11th and last. If anything, their offensive improvement is being somewhat hidden by their relative lack of tries. Their try-to-LB ratio is the 3rd-lowest in the league, and we’d expect that to positively regress with time. Should their current line break rate keep up – and against a Canterbury side conceding 7 breaks per game through 2 rounds, there’s little reason to think it won’t – at some point we’d expect tries to follow. They may very well arrive this week, and we’re tipping a long-awaited win for the Brisbane faithful – potentially by 13+.
- Credit where it’s due – we gave the Eels next to no chance of snatching a win last weekend, and they made us look like fools. But before you start clearing space in Parramatta’s trophy cabinet (a process that admittedly won’t take long), enjoy a quick reality check: yes, the Eels finished ahead of Melbourne on the scoreboard. They were also outgained by 293m, missed more tackles, made fewer line breaks, and conceded more drop-outs. On any other day, Parramatta lose that game with that sort of output. It speaks volumes of the side’s character that they kept turning up time and again to turn away the Storm’s offensive onslaught, but we’re still unconvinced that they have the credentials to compete with the top sides in September. This week, however, they’ll be playing a mediocre side in March, so we suppose they should be fine.
- We mentioned above that the Broncos possess the league’s 3rd-lowest try-to-LB ratio. The team with the lowest? The Tigers. As with Brisbane, we’d expect that ratio to adjust with time, and it makes us a bit tentative to endorse the Knights too strongly. The Tigers have so far looked like a vastly improved side from their 2020 model at times; their problem is that at the first sign of adversity, they immediately indulge in a Nick Kyrgios-style tank. Through their first two games, the Tigers have lost their first halves by just a combined 24-12. In their second halves, however – once the game has started getting away from them – they’ve been belted 46-6. If they can find a way to get into a lead – and they have shown an ability to split defensive lines – it’d be interesting to see if it leads to a better effort deep into matches. We can’t tip them head-to-head until they’ve actually shown us something, but as with the Warriors game, we could definitely be tempted here at the right price.
- We feel like at some point, the Cowboys are going to put it all together and blow somebody off the park. Their backline is stacked with talent, they’ve got speed to burn… on paper, they just look exciting. On grass though, they’re an eyesore. After having spent too many years shackled by Paul Green’s 5-hit-ups-and-a-kick “attacking structure”, we expected them to be big improvers in 2021. Boy, were we wrong. Instead, they look completely rudderless, with no clear direction or attacking strategy. In one set, Scott Drinkwater will be the main man, touching the ball nearly every play. The next, he’ll vanish, and it’ll be Michael Morgan or Jake Clifford doing something completely different (and inevitably, ineffective). Their complete lack of direction was laid bare for all to see last Saturday night, as they managed to turn a second half 55% possession share and 74% territorial advantage into a measly 12 points. A visiting Titans side missing halfback Ash Taylor should be ripe for the picking, but we just can’t bring ourselves to get on board. We’re only a couple of weeks in, but the Cowboys have easily been our biggest disappointments so far.