2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 18/24 (75%) (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%
(NOTE: If this is your first visit to the site, be sure to click here for an explanation of what we’re all about.)
- If you’ve been feeling bad for the Sea Eagles that they’ve had to get through the early stages of the season without their first-choice fullback (Tom Trbojevic; amateur foot-race) and hooker (Manase Fainu; unusually hectic blue-light disco), you can settle in for Thursday night’s clash comfortable that both sides have been equally disadvantaged. Here, Manly will be meeting a Panthers side who are also missing their preferred 1 & 9 (coincidentally both through broken bones below the elbow). Does that mean that Manly should suddenly be competitive? Probably not. In part, this is because the Panthers have significantly better alternative options than the Sea Eagles (we suspect the Panthers’ replacements Matt Burton and Mitch Kenny would both be automatic selections in Manly’s Top 17 if they happened to play on the Northern Beaches), but also because even if both offenses were equally clunky (they’re not), we’d still expect Penrith to get home on the back of their league-leading defense. The numbers on the defensive side of the ball are so lop-sided it’s mind-blowing. The Panthers (1st in Defense VOA) have conceded just 10 points all season. Manly (3rd last in Defense VOA), meanwhile, have conceded over 36… per game. If we were to highlight any one particular cause of this disparity (and, let’s be honest – there are plenty to choose from), it’s Manly’s total inability to prevent line breaks. They have the 2nd worst LBCVOA in the NRL (32.62%), which has been ‘achieved’ by allowing an obscene 7.3 breaks per game. These have come overwhelmingly on their right edge, where Jason Saab (8 line breaks conceded), Moses Suli (5) and Daly Cherry-Evans (5) have been about as water-tight as a tea-strainer. This week, they’ll get to face perhaps the league’s best attacking left edge. Missed tackle aficionados will particularly want to keep an eye out for Saab (42% tackle efficiency, worst in the entire league) as he attempts to defend Brian To’o (21 tackle breaks, 1st in the entire league), in what shapes as a mismatch comparable to that of David vs Goliath (if instead of being a terrifying Philistine giant, Goliath had instead been a 5’8″ Samoan man with the voice of Luther Vandross).
- Having now gone 2 consecutive games without registering a point, Trent Barrett has decided to shake things up, moving Queensland Origin fullback Corey Allan to the wing for Nick Meaney(?!), and dropping Jake Averillo altogether to make room for the return of Lachlan Lewis. To be fair, we weren’t going to be picking the Bulldogs anyway, and we can understand Barrett’s desire to shake things up, but these moves (Allan in particular) just scream of desperation. Yes, their spine has been ineffective, but it won’t matter who they trot out until they find a way of competing for yardage. Through three weeks, they’ve been out-gained by at least 289m each week. They’ve conceded over 1700m in back-to-back starts, and just get run over by absolutely everybody. If you’re spending each game working your way out of your end and running into set defensive lines, it simply doesn’t matter who your spine is (just ask Manly, and their highly-regarded but equally ineffective halves, Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran). As a team that struggles for go-forward, the quickest shortcut to reducing time spent working it out of their own end would be to try not to start there in the first place. That means improving their discipline, in particular their league-worst 9.7 total penalties conceded per game. This ill-discipline is forcing the side to defend extra sets, costing them time-in-possession, field position and fatigue. From there, their bog-average forwards struggle to do much of anything (they have four regular forwards averaging 7-metres-or-less per game). They should theoretically have a better chance than usual to approach a 50% possession share this week against a Rabbitohs side making the most errors of any side in the game (over 14). But even if they do, who do they have to try and capitalise on this uptick in opportunities? Lachlan freaking Lewis. Good grief.
- We tipped that an offensive breakout may have been coming last week for the Broncos, and they (eventually) obliged, pouring 24 unanswered points on the hapless Bulldogs. This week, though, they face a difficult second act. They’ve got next to no chance of winning (or seriously competing) in this contest – their mediocre defense will see to that – but we’re very much interested in seeing how their offense goes against the brilliant Storm defense. The Broncos play an offload-happy style of offense – something that Melbourne have traditionally struggled with – and have been showing an ability to attack from any area of the field. They’ve been rolling along quite well offensively, but it should be noted that Parramatta are the only high-end defense they’ve faced so far. If they can put a few points past Melbourne, people will have to start taking Brisbane seriously, regardless of the actual outcome of the match.
- Try not to focus too much on the eventual 28-4 scoreline last weekend for the Sharks, and instead remember the fact that they played the last 43 minutes with the only 13 players they had left. When Will Kennedy left the field shortly before halftime, they were in it up to their eyeballs, trailing Parramatta just 10-4. When you consider the fact that they were unable to rotate players the rest of the way, we think it’s actually impressive that they hung on as well as they did, not conceding another try until the 69th minute (at which point the dam wall broke). That performance gave us a lot of hope that the Sharkies can start putting something together going forward. The Cowboys, on the other hand, continued to embarrass themselves, getting smoked 44-8 by the Gold Coast.
- At this point, we need to provide a disclaimer: our own model actually projects the Titans to win their clash with the Raiders this weekend (by approximately half a try). We’re not, however, tipping them. The reason for this is that the Raiders’ defensive numbers have been majorly skewed by New Zealand’s big second half performance last Saturday – an effort that we don’t believe is an accurate reflection of Canberra’s D. The issue here (as with the Sharks’ game above) is that a swag of early injuries that saw Canberra lose Joe Tapine, Ryan James and Sebastian Kris within the opening 12 minutes forced Canberra to play for over an hour with just a single man on the bench, and Curtis Scott to play out the match with broken ribs. Under these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that Canberra got hammered in the second half – and that’s exactly what transpired. Up until half-time, the Raiders had missed just 11 tackles and conceded 3 line breaks. In the second stanza, they gave up 25 and 7. Perhaps the most glaring difference was in offloads, with the Warriors making just 3 in the first half, compared to a whopping 16 in the second (which reflects both the fatigue of the Raiders and their inability to wrap up the ball, as well as the mentality of the Warriors in trying to run down a big lead). The difference here is chalk and cheese, and Canberra’s second half was clearly out of character with their defensive efforts through the opening fortnight. Through two weeks, Canberra’s LBCVOA was -43.94% (1st in the league); in Round 3, it was 119.13%. And if we apply our model without including that outing, we find it projecting Canberra as the winner (again, by about half a try). The match certainly looks to be competitive, so we don’t hate anyone who fancies the Titans (and we’d probably agree that at $2.45 they’re a great price), but we’re expecting Canberra to look more like the Green Machine we’re accustomed to this weekend.
- As with the Broncos, the Dragons have been another pleasant surprise so far in 2021, having successfully turned a soft early-season schedule into 2 wins and 5th spot on the NRL ladder. Accordingly, they deserve genuine consideration here in a meeting with a Knights side who looked extremely disappointing while going down to the Tigpies. Defensively, there’s not a lot between these two teams, with St George-Illawarra prone to missing a lot of tackles and giving up a lot of yards, while keeping their line relatively tight. The Knights, meanwhile, do the opposite (they’ve given up the NRL’s 4th worst LBCVOA, but have missed no more than 25 tackles in a match; the Dragons have missed no fewer than 27, and average 33). For their part, the Knights appear set to address this somewhat, with Blake Green named to return via the bench. Bringing him on would allow Newcastle to slide Kurt Mann into centre and remove Gehamat Shibasaki (who was clearly the weakest link last weekend, making 3 errors and conceding 2 line breaks and a try) altogether. With both defenses roughly average, we’d expect this game to be settled on the offensive side of the ball – and this is where we give the edge to Newcastle. Not only do the Knights possess the superior LBVOA and RMVOA, but the Dragons are also now without their halfback, Ben Hunt. While we’re aware that Hunt has been something of a meme in recent seasons, we can’t ignore just how good he’s actually been to open the season – he ranks 1st in the NRL for line break assists, 2nd for try assists and 4th for try involvements. With the Dragons being a little worse than Newcastle as it was, you’d have to think that any drop-off through switching from Hunt to Adam Clune would be enough to put this out of reach.
- After tipping that the Warriors were a great value play last weekend while over $4, we’re feeling the opposite here, with them coming all the way in to $2.60 against the Roosters. The current price looks to us like an over-correction, made as a result of the Warriors’ upset win over Canberra, as well as Sydney’s loss of Luke Keary and Lachlam Lam. On the first point, we’ll remind you (again) that the Raiders were forced to play out the final hour with a one-man bench. In that context, it shouldn’t be considered terribly impressive that New Zealand were able to mount a comeback – it was almost inevitable. Indeed, we’re actually more concerned by what happened while the Raiders were still relatively fresh – they ran up a 25-6 halftime lead. As pleasing as it was to see New Zealand punish an opponent that was clearly on the ropes, it would be unrealistic to expect a repeat performance against a Roosters side who will be almost certainly fresher, and whose defense is significantly better than Canberra’s in the first place (3rd v 8th). Secondly, with regards to buying into the loss of Luke Keary, that shapes as a case of “buyer beware”. As good as Keary is, he’s not the be-all and end-all for Sydney. In 2020 he missed two games (against Brisbane and Wests) and was replaced by Drew Hutchison – who will again come into the side here – and the Roosters won both those outings, by a combined score of 96-28. The Panthers showed last week that the league’s best sides can still win without their studs, as Matt Burton turned in a man-of-the-match performance en route to beating the Storm. Well, the Roosters have an elite young half of their own in the form of Sam Walker, who’ll be coming in for Lam. Given the total mismatch of quality in the surrounding players and the fact that New Zealand are quietly without their best half as well (Chanel Harris-Tevita), we find it baffling that the Warriors are being as warmly supported as they are. We strongly prefer the Roosters, and consider $1.50 great value.
- Similarly, we’re not terribly interested in the Tigers, despite their upset win against Newcastle last Sunday. Ignoring the scoreline, the Tigers looked bog average and needed the game to be presented to them on a platter (and even then struggled to ice the game). Newcastle made a disgraceful 18 errors – the sort of number that should have seen them blown off the park. Instead, the game went down to the wire, as Wests’ “defense” did their absolute darnedest to blow it. We don’t expect them to get the same sort of gifts from the Eels, and without them, they may not see the other side of halfway at all. Parra’s yardage has been unbelievable this season, ranking a distant 1st in RMVOA. The Eels have run for over 1700m (a mark the Tigers haven’t gotten within 250m of) twice in three weeks, courtesy of huge numbers from their back three and a mid-career resurgence from Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who ranks 6th among NRL forwards for runs of over 8m, and 4th for total yardage. Armed with favourable field position and the league’s 4th best defense, we’d expect Parra to comfortably contain the Tigers’ offense, and we know that in recent times they’ve had no trouble whatsoever running up a score in this matchup (Parra have scored 20+ in 7 of their last 8 against the Tigers). We’re taking the Eels with confidence.