2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 41/56 (73%) (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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- The sorry state of the Raiders is one of the great unsolved mysteries of 2021 so far. After a dominant opening fortnight, the Raiders have gone completely off the boil since their injury-induced second half meltdown against New Zealand in Round 3. Canberrans looking for a glimmer of hope may point to their 24-point outing against North Queensland as a sign of offensive improvement, but even that’s a mirage. That performance needs to be put in context: the Cowboys are averaging over 30 points conceded per game thus far, and the Raiders’ 24-point effort was in fact the second fewest points the Cows have conceded in a game this year. Indeed, the Raiders’ LBVOA of -35.85% was their 2nd-worst performance so far, and should put paid to suggestions that English hooker Josh Hodgson is the problem. As for what is the problem, it’s hard to pinpoint. Jack Wighton has been significantly less effective this season, producing an unusually low 6 try involvements through 7 games, a figure that places him 41st in the league. Defensively, their edges have been uncharacteristically brittle, with every Raiders outside back currently outside the top 300 players in the league for tackle efficiency (remember, in any given week there are only 272 players on the field in the entire competition – so that’s extremely bad), leaving them 4th-worst in TBCVOA. They’re making the 4th-most errors per game as a team, and forcing the 2nd-fewest repeat sets. None of this is good news, but it’s not unfixable, either. Missed tackles are of less significance than line breaks conceded, and in that respect they’re still above average; their errors are bad but as a stat, tend to be volatile (meaning that they may change significantly from week to week); and it would be easy enough to increase their forced drop-outs with a tweak to their attacking kicking tactics. And as for Jack Wighton? He’d be pleased to hear that this week he’ll be facing a Rabbitohs side that last week conceded 10 line breaks all on the right hand side of their posts (exactly opposite where Wighton typically lines up in attack). We’re not about to tip Canberra against a heavyweight like Souths, but we’re not giving up on them, either, and think they have the potential to make this a lot more competitive than the odds would suggest.
- We really shouldn’t need to tell you not to pick the Sharks this week. Having just gotten rolled by the worst team in football (Canterbury), they face an away trip to meet the juggernaut that is the Storm. We’re sure Cronulla’s crummy D appreciated a brief reprieve in getting to face the hopelessly inept Bulldogs’ offense, but last weekend’s 2 line breaks conceded was just the 3rd time this season they’ve conceded less than 6 in a game (and the other two were against the offenses ranked 3rd-last and 2nd-last). In the Storm, they’ll be up against the best offense in rugby league, who’ve won their past 4 games by an average margin of 26.5. Look elsewhere.
- Having spent the past fortnight railing against Kevin Walters’ decision to bench Anthony Milford, you can imagine our immense frustration in seeing Milford recalled to the Broncos side this week, only to be paired not with Brodie Croft – who matched it with Nathan Cleary just two weeks ago – but rather, with Tyson Gamble. For those of you asking ‘Tyson WHO?’, it’s Tyson Gamble – a 24-year-old half who’s played just three first grade games since making his debut with the Tigers back in 2018 – losing all three, and producing an average score of less than 11. Look – it’s a small sample size; maybe he does well. But you have to wonder why on earth Walters is pursuing this spin-the-wheel approach to his halves combination. In the first three weeks, the Milford/Croft combination produced 10 tries and 18 line breaks; in the four games since, they’ve managed just 5 and 10. Granted, they’ve faced some sterner defenses in that time, but it nonetheless represents a catastrophic collapse. Put simply, Walters’ interference is making the team worse, not better. Which is a shame, because the Titans are a talented, but beatable team. While the Gold Coast bring a high-octane offense with points to burn, they also feature the league’s 4th-worst defense – creating an avenue to victory if you can keep pace in a shootout (as South Sydney did last week). Sadly, the 1.25 tries per game that Brisbane are averaging since dumping the Milford/Croft combo probably isn’t going to cut it.
- With 13 tries in two weeks since Tom Trbojevic returned, Sea Eagles fans could be forgiven for believing that they’re suddenly the real deal. Trbojevic has inspired back-to-back thumpings, with his 7 try involvements placing him 2nd in the team on the year behind Daly Cherry-Evans – in just 2 appearances. This tells us two things. One, Tom is unbelievable. But two – the rest of the team is woeful. Trbovejic has personally accounted for more than half of Manly’s tries since returning, and a third of their tries for the entire season. Tom isn’t making everyone else better – if he were, somebody else might also be contributing. Rather, he’s just carrying the load entirely on his own. And while that may be effective against scrub defensive units like the Titans and Tigers (who rank 4th-last and last in defense), it’s unlikely to get it done against a Panthers squad yet to concede more than 2 tries in a game this year. Indeed, Penrith couldn’t have hoped for a better preparation for facing a mediocre team getting carried by a superstar fullback, after seeing off exactly such a team last weekend (the Newcastle Knights and their own freak, Kalyn Ponga). Penrith took Ponga completely out of the game by dominating field position, and forcing Newcastle to spend all their time with the footy slogging it out of their own end. We’d expect a similar strategy here, looking to kick early and deep, then camp down deep in Manly territory. This isn’t a strategy likely to lend itself to another 46-6 belting (like what they did to the Eagles a month ago), but should be effective for nullifying Turbo and grinding out a win.
- Trent Barrett described the Bulldogs‘ victory over Cronulla last weekend as the “best win” he’s been involved in as a player or a coach. We suppose that’s one way to describe it. We would have gone with “most fortunate”, or “flukiest”, or if we were feeling cruel, “most ill-deserved”. Canterbury ultimately finished ahead on the scoreboard, but that’s the only place they looked good. They were comprehensively smoked in every conceivable statistical category, like line breaks (5 to 2), run metres (1798 to 1372) and tackle breaks (37 to 14). Yes, they won, but they contributed absolutely nothing to achieving it, instead standing idly by as Cronulla butchered try after try after try. Oh, and the Sharks also had to spend 10 minutes down a bloke for one of the softest sin bins you’re ever likely to see. We suppose it could be the “best win” Barrett is likely to experience all year, but that’s only because there’s unlikely to be a lot of competition. Parra by 24+.
- We quite like the value in the Roosters this weekend, with their current price around $1.50. Punters no longer seem to be perceiving them as an elite team since Luke Keary went down for the year, but in practice, they’ve hardly missed a beat. Although they got shut down by Melbourne, they’ve managed 26+ in their other three games since the arrival of Sam Walker, most recently putting 34 points on the Dragons’ 6th-ranked defense. Against the Knights they’ll get a favourable matchup, with Sydney #3 for LBVOA going up against a Newcastle D ranked 4th-last for LBCVOA. The Knights have been gashed for 5+ line breaks in 5 of their 7 games so far, and have conceded 4 or more tries in their last 5 straight. We’d expect that pattern to continue against a red-hot Roosters offense.
- The Cowboys arrive this week in the middle of the least convincing 3-game winning streak we can remember. They’ve been squeaking home against ordinary opposition, winning by an average margin of just 6 points. On the surface their offense has looked better, posting 26+ points per game through this period, after managing just 36 points total through the opening four weeks. But let’s look a little closer at that – they’ve faced the defenses ranked last, 2nd last, and 10th, with their match against Canberra seeing their line break total drift back down to 3. Against the Warriors, they’ll face a D similar in standard to that of the Raiders – meaning they should be able to find a few openings, but dropping another 20+ points seems unlikely. The Warriors’ D is exploitable, but it seems to take a decent offense to do that. New Zealand have been absolutely destroyed by the Storm, Roosters and Raiders (back when Canberra were still good), to the tune of 19 tries conceded in 3 games. But in their remaining 4 games, they’ve conceded just 9 total. This typical defensive competence is bolstered by extraordinarily good discipline (they’ve made the fewest errors this year), which has helped them win the possession battle in 5 of 7 games so far. With the lion’s share of the footy against a pretty weak Cowboys’ defense, we’d expect the Warriors to scrounge out enough points for the win.
- The Tigers are now in free-fall, and we have to wonder where it’s going to end. Their defense has been dismal all season long (they’ve now conceded 5 or more line breaks in every game this year, and missed 30+ tackles in 6 of 7), but now their offense is imploding, too. There was a point there for a while where the Tigers’ O was racking up enough points to win but getting let down by their defense, but the past fortnight they’ve been bog average on both sides of the ball. This period coincides with the loss of hooker Jacob Liddle, whose 0.8 try involvements per game would be really handy right about now (this may not sound like a lot, but consider that the team collectively has managed just 1.5 tries per game without him, and hasn’t been able to replace that production in the hooking position, with Jake Simpkin yet to contribute any). They get Joey Leilua back this weekend which could help, but he’s notoriously hot-and-cold, and regardless, the Dragons’ D has been surprisingly stout so far (last week’s whooping from the Roosters, notwithstanding). Like the Raiders, we’re not writing the Tigers off completely – they have shown glimpses of ability at times – but it doesn’t seem wise to pin your hopes to this team at the moment.