2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 30/40 (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%
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- You can’t blame Broncos coach Kevin Walters for wanting to make changes to a side that’s opened the season 1-4. After showing some signs of improvement to start the year, their past fortnight has been dismal, getting completely dismantled by Melbourne and Souths for a combined score of 75-12. Dumping centre Tesi Niu makes some sense – he’s been Brisbane’s worst defender and has done nothing with the ball in hand, either – but we firmly disagree with the dropping of Anthony Milford. If somebody deserves to be dropped from Brisbane’s spine it is clearly Tom Deardon, who has so far managed zero try assists and zero line break assists, doing his part in seeing the Broncos’ LBVOA drop from 11.28% pre-Deardon to -20.68% post-Deardon. We’d argue that Brodie Croft should never have been dropped in the first place (at least not for Deardon), but to now come in at the expense of the side’s only vaguely effective spine member is straight-up baffling. Milford ranks 1st in the team for try assists and line break assists, and 2nd in tackle breaks. Swapping him out at five-eighth for an out-and-out #7 like Croft leaves the team extremely light-on for attacking spark. In any event, it’s unlikely to matter – short of a calamitous injury toll, the Panthers are destined to romp in – but you still have to question the merits of a team selection that makes Brisbane’s offense visibly worse in the same week they face the league’s best defense. Bizarre.
- We were shocked early in the week to see the Knights open as rank outsiders, but following the Sharks’ sacking of coach John Morris, it seems that confidence in Cronulla is evaporating. To be clear, we were always taking Newcastle here, regardless. Some may have been impressed by Cronulla’s surprising half-time lead over Sydney, but that result was more a symptom of what the Roosters were doing than any meaningful contribution from the Sharkies. In the first half, the Roosters gifted the Sharks a mass of extra opportunities, making 5 errors and conceding 4 penalties, to help Cronulla into scoring positions. Even so, the Sharks could only manage 12 first half points. In the second stanza, however – where the Roosters tightened things up with just 2 errors and 1 penalty conceded – the Sharks had all the same problems as usual. They struggled badly for yardage (outgained by over 200m in the second half alone) and line breaks (just 1). And as you might expect, their points dried up as a result. It’s this offensive ineptitude that has us liking Newcastle here. The Knights showed last week that even in a losing effort and without their halfback they’ve still got plenty of creativity in them, posting their season-high LBVOA (39.26%) and running in 3 tries, despite a mere 44% possession share. The Knights didn’t lose because they can’t score, they lost because they got absolutely shredded on their right edge – a right edge that should be significantly better this week with the return of star centre Bradman Best and five-eighth Kurt Mann. Assuming even a marginal improvement on D, the Knights are plenty well-equipped to take care of Cronulla (who, frankly, don’t defend that well anyway).
- We’re not inclined to tip them head-to-head, but seeing the Roosters listed around $3 looks like a bit of an oddity nonetheless. Sure, they’re still without Luke Keary and are onto their 4th-string(?) hooker now, but does anybody actually watch them play? Not only are they not playing badly, they arguably look as good as ever. Heck, they even gave the Sharks a 14-point head-start and reeled them in in under 20 minutes (ultimately getting home by 2 scores). Keary’s a great player, but teenage sensation Sam Walker has already passed him for line break assists, and finds himself ranked 3rd overall in the league after just 2 games. They’ve managed 58 points in two outings without Keary, and have a defense ranked 4th in the NRL (vs the Storm‘s 2nd). We’re inclined to agree that taking Melbourne at home is the safe option, but Sydney’s current price is irresistible.
- It’s an absolute tragedy for the Sea Eagles that Dylan Walker did his hammy last weekend, as his injury has cost them the opportunity to fire the NRL’s worst defender, Jason Saab, into the sun. Instead we get a direct swap of Tom Trbojevic for Walker at fullback; a significant upgrade, to be sure, but one that does nothing to address Manly’s biggest problem – their shockingly bad defense. Their D was made to look tolerable last weekend by New Zealand’s pedestrian offense, but they’ll get no such luxury this weekend against a Titans side that were pretty close to perfect in their first half against Newcastle. The Gold Coast remain the league’s most ill-disciplined, having made the most errors and conceded the 6th-most total penalties per game. But there’s never been a question about their attacking firepower, and last weekend we finally got to see what would happen if the Titans stopped sabotaging themselves. The answer was a clinical 26-point first half demolition job, in which they made 6 line breaks, 15 tackle breaks and outgained their opponent by over 300m. This week they’ll get to face a pathetic Manly pack who’ve been outgained in 4 of 5 contests so far, and get to unleash David Fifita on the worst defensive edge in the competition. If the Titans play anywhere near their potential, Manly are going to get absolutely whaled on.
- We never thought we’d see the day that we come to the defense of Luke Brooks, but here we are. For whatever reason, Brooks has been the subject of a media hatchet job this week, with all and sundry falling over themselves to dump on the Tigers half following Wests’ pathetic display against North Queensland. The mainstream logic seems to be that “they’ve got a good coach now, so Brooks must be the problem”. But hold up a second – the Tigers lost despite scoring 30 points. That sort of total should always be enough to win; rather, this loss belongs at the feet of the defense. Which begs the question – why exactly does Michael Maguire escape criticism? Because almost a decade ago he won a single premiership with a squad so stacked that even Anthony Seibold could get them to a preliminary final? He was brought in to add a tough, gritty attitude and defense to a club that’s had a soft underbelly for years, and through five rounds their D is now worse than it was a year ago (and a year ago, it wasn’t very good). If you really want to know why they’re losing, we’d suggest that their 32 points conceded per game would be a good place to start. And this is somehow meant to be Brooks’ fault? Please. Brooks may not be good, but if nothing else, he’s certainly been good enough, ranking in the NRL’s Top 10 for try assists, try involvements and line break assists. If his defense didn’t persistently let him down, he’d instead be getting talked about as one of the competition’s most improved players. Anyway, the Tigers likely get pumped here, and after the Rabbitohs put another 30+ on them, we look forward to hearing more about how Brooks is to blame.
- It seems to be the case every year that as soon we give in and accept that the Eels may indeed be legit, they come out and disappoint us with an ordinary loss. And so, like clockwork, they turned in a clunker against St George-Illawarra. In Parra’s defense, they were on the losing end of almost every dud call last Sunday night (of which there were plenty), and even on a bad day, their metre-eating offense still managed to churn out another 1500m+ day. That being said, any time you give up 4 line breaks to the Dragons you should be disappointed (the only other teams to do so this year were the Cowboys and Sea Eagles, the worst and 4th-worst defenses in the league – that’s not a list you want to be on). Our biggest concern here is the fact that the game plan successfully employed by St George – one that in essence involves bashing their opponent into submission – is exactly the same style that the Raiders like to turn to in order to shift momentum in their favour. Canberra tried this against Penrith last Friday night, and were able to gain some ascendancy through the opening half hour, before the Panthers countered with a lift in tempo and playing with increasing width (every Panthers outside back finished with 11 runs or more). The Eels would do well to attempt the same strategy, but that will be made harder by the loss of Dylan Brown, and the fact that comparatively, the Eels’ centres aren’t very good: the Panthers’ pairing of Paul Momirovski and Matt Burton (8 try involvements, 9 line breaks and 32 tackle busts) are a fair way ahead of the Eels’ Tom Opacic and Marata Niukore (5 try involvements, 2 line breaks and 22 tackle breaks). Penrith showed a blueprint for how to beat Canberra, but we’re not convinced the Eels are capable of replicating it.
- After five rounds of footy, it suddenly appears that the Dragons are who we thought the Warriors were – an aggressive, hard-working unit who are able to compensate for a lack of attacking ability with pure effort. They have an unsustainably high try-to-line break ratio (21:21, 2nd only to Cronulla, who will come crashing back to earth any minute now) that will likely see their points totals regress as the season wears on, but as long as they’re out-enthusing their opponents, they should continue to get results when they play against middling opposition. And ‘middling’ might be a generous description for New Zealand, who over the past three weeks, have just been getting worse and worse. We wrote last week about how their defense has fallen off a cliff since Round 2, and then they came out and somehow also got worse on offense, scoring just 12 points against a Manly side who came in averaging 39 points conceded per game. And they could only manage 12? We honestly thought that the Warriors would end up being a shot at a finals berth on the back of consistently strong efforts, despite a lack of talent in the spine. Instead, it appears instead that may be a better description for St George.
- The Spoon Bowl has arrived early this year, and will pit the league’s worst offense (the Bulldogs) against the league’s worst defense (the Cowboys). It’s difficult to write much about either side without it seeming cruel, so we’ll just point to the expected return of Jason Taumalolo against the league’s worst forward pack as a possible point of difference. Also, the Cows managed to score as many points last week as the Bulldogs have scored all season combined (34). So we suppose we’ll take North Queensland.