2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 35/48 (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%
(NOTE: If this is your first visit to the site, be sure to click here for an explanation of what we’re all about.)
- Sea Eagles
- We were certainly surprised to see the red-hot Panthers offense held to just 20 points last weekend by the typically apathetic Brisbane D. This was Penrith’s second-lowest total so far, and had some asking the question: did Brisbane show the blueprint for stopping the Panthers’ offense? The answer, in our view, is… sort of? If anything Brisbane showed that perhaps the best way of slowing Penrith’s scoring is to not allow them anywhere near your red zone. Brisbane’s forwards totally dominated the Panthers’ middles for much of the game, with Penrith only really gaining any sort of momentum in the final quarter. Only 2 Penrith forwards gained over 100m, and only one made over 10m-per-carry (you deserve a prize if you’re able to guess that that player was… Matt Eisenhuth). Hats off to Brisbane for that, but if that’s the blueprint, there are very few packs in the NRL capable of executing it (least of all the Knights, who last week gave up 100m+ to 5 Cronulla forwards). And outside of keeping Penrith down the other end, Brisbane didn’t really have an answer to Penrith’s O, who still managed to post 6 line breaks for the 4th time this year (one of just 4 teams to do this, along with the Storm, Roosters and… Knights?). If this isn’t alarming to Newcastle, it really should be. Generally speaking, Newcastle’s offense is plenty good enough to keep them in a shoot-out (and for you naysayers who claimed that the loss of Mitchell Pearce would spell doom for Newcastle’s attack, we’ll point out that their LBVOA has lifted from 2.71% with Pearce to 23.91% since losing him – Kalyn Ponga is the man in Newie, don’t forget that). But even if we consider the Knights’ offense the equal of Penrith’s (and to be honest, they’re still a little way off, primarily because of a lack of tackle-breakers on their edges), there’s still the small matter of defense. While the Panthers have the luxury of being able to tackle their way to victory if need be (they’re yet to concede more than 2 tries in a game this season), the Knights’ D is remarkably sieve-like (yet to concede fewer than 3 tries in a game this season). And if it’s possible, they’re somehow getting worse, leaking 17 line breaks over the past fortnight – 4 more than the Panthers have conceded all season. It’s hard to see a path to victory for Newcastle in this one.
- There’s certainly a pattern forming for the Titans. In the three games they’ve won, they’ve averaged 12 errors, 3 total penalties conceded and a LBVOA of 61.84%. In the three games they’ve lost, those numbers have imploded to 15.67 errors, 6.67 penalties and a LBVOA of -31.42%. Put differently, the Titans seem to either be very good or totally shithouse, with very little in between. The difficulty we’re having at the moment is trying to predict which weeks they’re going to suck. It could be that their offense struggles to click as a result of the higher error counts, and so when they play teams who typically force a high number of opposition errors (Canberra and Manly are 1st and 3rd in this stat, and both clubbed the Titans) they’ll be a decent chance at a meltdown. If so, good news: the Rabbitohs are 10th in opposition errors. But bad news: the Rabbitohs are also awesome. We expect the loss of Latrell Mitchell to slow their offense some, but over the past month it’s actually been their defense that’s had us sit up and take notice. They’ve conceded just 6 tries and 7 line breaks over their past 4 games combined, and allowed over 1300m just once. With defense this good, it’ll be difficult for the Titans to generate much offense, regardless of whether they’re on or off. If we were to guess, we fancy the Titans will turn in a good showing Friday night, but ultimately lose regardless.
- We’ve been writing for weeks about how the Broncos are better than they’ve been getting credit for, and that the main missing ingredient for them was defensive line speed. Apparently they got the message, turning in an extremely impressive (and uncharacteristically enthusiastic) defensive display against Penrith. The tragedy for Brisbane is that their uptick in performance is likely to be misattributed to the dropping of Anthony Milford, leaving them in a “two steps forward, three steps back” type of situation. Not to put too fine a point on it, but not only did Brisbane not perform better due to the absence of Milford, but if they’d just left him in they’d have probably won. Allow us to clarify: yes, the return of Brodie Croft was long overdue (we explained last week why we felt he shouldn’t have been dropped in the first place). His kicking game and game management was exactly what Brisbane had been missing with Milford/Deardon directing the offense. But by pairing him with Deardon rather than Milford, they left themselves without anyone capable of threatening Penrith’s D, despite a mountain of possession deep in Penrith’s end (they ultimately managed just 2 tries, one off a kick, and one off an extremely dubious pass from Croft). If we accept that Croft is there to give the offense shape, you have to wonder what exactly it is that Deardon is supposedly bringing. It’s certainly not attacking nous, what with his 0 try assists and 0 line break assists through 4 games (the apparently-terrible Milford leads the team with 3 and 5, respectively). Unsurprisingly, this combination produced the team’s 2nd-lowest LBVOA of the season so far, despite having the best platform to work from (on the back of their highest RMVOA of the year). If you’re a team such as Brisbane who’ve conceded 5+ line breaks in every game this year against teams who aren’t Canterbury, it’s critically important that they’re able to generate points, and we have absolutely no faith whatsoever that this combination has it in them. If the Eels are able to beat Brisbane in the middle (as they have just about everybody else), then the Broncos will have absolutely nothing going for them, and be staring down the barrel at another flogging.
- The Sharks turned in easily their best attacking display of the season in their loss to the Knights, posting season-highs in line breaks, offloads and run metres, while making just 4 errors. Now bolstered by the dual return of Shaun Johnson and Josh Dugan, you have to wonder if this could be the start of something for Cronulla, after an uninspiring start to the season. In any event, there should be plenty of points coming against a Bulldogs side who’ve conceded 4+ tries in every game this season, and who couldn’t even get it done against the only comparably terrible team in the NRL. Sharks by 18+.
- At what point do we start worrying about the Raiders? After starting the season looking every bit as good as usual, they’ve now leaked 5+ tries in 3 of their past 4, most recently getting pumped 35-10 by Parramatta. They seem to be suffering from a similar ailment to that which has befallen the Broncos for much of the season – they get visibly fatigued, start bleeding run metres, and then line breaks and tries follow. Against the Warriors, this was to be expected (they were out of troops mid-way through the first half). But it’s since started looking like a bit of a pattern. Against the Panthers, they gave up just 710m and 2 line breaks during an impressive first half, before running out of steam and bleeding 1028m and 3 breaks in the second. Against Parra they were unlucky to be trailing at the break, giving up just 753m and 2 line breaks; then, they capitulated for 890m and 5 line breaks after half-time. In matches such as this one, against an error-prone Cowboys side, you’d expect they should have plenty of time to catch their breath while North Queensland are milling around in their own in-goal. But against anyone willing to push the pace, we’re starting to doubt whether or not Canberra can keep up.
- Here’s a hot take: what if the player whose recent return has been the most significant for the Sea Eagles is not Tom Trbojevic, but is in fact… Morgan Harper? Wait! Before you rush to close the site and remove us from your bookmarks, hear us out. We’re not saying for a moment that Harper is better than Tommy Turbo (in fact, The Obstruction Rule is of the view that nobody is better than T. Trbojevic),but rather that Harper’s addition has had the most significant impact. It’d be easy – and lazy – analysis to point to Tommy’s return as some sort of miracle cure for Manly’s ills. Yes, they were better, and yes, Tom looked as good as ever, but a lot went into Manly’s dominant performance that was well outside Trbojevic’s control. Manly’s 95% first half completion rate was a big factor, as was the Titans’ woeful 16 errors. Trbojevic is very good, but he wasn’t catching the ball on his teammates’ behalves. And though the scoreline looks like a totally dominant 80 minute performance, it was closer to a dominant 15 minutes in the middle of the first half. In the second stanza, Manly turned in their typical clunky, error-riddled display, making 6 errors and just 1 line break (and Trbojevic did play that half, too). But, while it was nice to see Tom lift Manly to their best LBVOA of the season so far (26.01%), it wasn’t where their biggest improvement has come. Rather, it’s been on defense, and specifically on their right edge where Harper’s speedy decision-making has made everyone out there better. Though we maintain that Jason Saab remains the worst defender in the NRL (he’s the only player to have played more than 1 game and missed more tackles than he’s made), Moses Suli would be right up there, too. And what Harper’s showing is that in Des Hasler’s defense, a reasonable defensive centre can hide even the most grossly incompetent winger. The reason is that Hasler’s umbrella structure requires his edge defenders to do two key things: identify where the ball is going, and cut the play off before it gets there. Suli’s slow play recognition and glacial running speed makes him ill-fitted for this role, and results in Saab being forced to do more work than anybody would like. Harper, on the other hand, has been making a good fist of it, averaging 17.5 tackles per game vs Suli’s 10. By stopping the play there, Harper has been responsible for just 1 try conceded in his 2 starts (vs Suli’s 8 in 4), and has seen Manly’s LBCVOA improve from a dismal 33.13% with Suli (worst in the NRL) to -41.24% without (2nd). This has been the biggest difference for Manly, and is why we’re tipping them this week. We don’t agree that the Tigers are without a hope though, and to be honest, we fancy their offense is actually better than the Sea Eagles’ (at the very least, it’s certainly more consistent). But while Harper’s inclusion has seen Manly’s defense improve, the Tigers continue to leak 5+ line breaks every week – a staggeringly high number that doesn’t lend itself to winning a lot of football games. If we had any faith that the Tigers’ D was going to improve we’d be all over them here (and regardless, we still love them at $2.60), but we’re yet to see anything of the sort.
- They’ve had a good run, but last weekend showed the limits of the Dragons’ playing style. Their high-effort, low-ability brand of footy was successful for a while, but New Zealand last week exposed St George-Illawarra for what they are – a mediocre side that depends on their opponents beating themselves. Parramatta, Manly and Newcastle all obliged, making 12 or more errors against the Dragons, gifting ample opportunities to a side that otherwise struggles for metres and line breaks. The Warriors, on the other hand, did not – they made just 2 errors, starving the Dragons of possession and grinding out an unlikely victory. Though the Roosters are generally error-prone and may look like a good mark for the aggressive Dragons D, the problem here is that Sydney’s offense is that good, they’re unlikely to need much possession to run up a score, and their defense should be more than capable of turning St George away. We’d expect the Roosters to win here by at least 2 scores.
- The poor old Warriors just can’t catch a break, somehow losing both centres last weekend, in addition to the extended absence of Euan Aitken. That leaves them turning to Marcelo Montoya and apparently Jack Murchie as their new-look centre paring. We’d be surprised if Murchie ultimately starts in the centres (the bloke’s enormous and will have his comparative lack of mobility quickly exposed, if he does), with Reece Walsh looming in the reserves as a potential alternative. Regardless, the churn out wide really hurts New Zealand, who depend on their defense in order to be competitive (because their O is as stale as three-day-old bread). Trying to contain the Storm is a challenge at the best of times (their #1-ranked offense is no accident); trying to do it with makeshift edge combinations is near impossible.