2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 52/72 (72%) (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 had a whole spiel written up on Wednesday mocking Michael Maguire and his bizarre roster shuffle of the Tigers’ spine this week. Altering the spine in the first place is odd for a team averaging 22 points and 6.5 line breaks per game over the past fortnight. Offense is clearly not their primary concern; rather, their laughably poor defense is the cause of their woes, and subtly shifting Adam Doeihi and Moses Mbye’s defensive responsibilities is unlikely to see a tangible improvement. BUT, then Kalyn Ponga got rubbed out for the Knights with a groin injury, and the Tigers’ prospects significantly improved. To be clear, this game projected quite closely in the first place (we had the Knights by about half a try), in large part because the Knights are one of the few teams with a D as comparably rubbish as Wests. The Tigers’ line break defense is diabolical, conceding 5+ breaks in 8 of 9 contests so far. However, Newcastle’s record is almost as bad. They’ve leaked 5+ in 7 of 9, and their low-water mark – a 10 line break capitulation to the Titans – is actually worse than the Tigpies’ worst effort (giving up 8 to the Manly Tom Trbojevics). And with two shambolic defenses going head-to-head, subtracting the Knights’ most critical attacking player – the player most capable of taking advantage of the Tigers’ ineptitude – is significant. With no disrespect intended for Tex Hoy – he’s certainly one of the better back-up fullbacks in the NRL – he simply isn’t Ponga. Ponga leads his team in try assists, try involvements, line break assists… and he’s only played five games. In moving from Ponga to Hoy, the Knights see their fullback position drop from 1.6 try involvements per game to 0.75. Line break assists drop from 1.2 to 0.5. Remembering that they’re already without star half Mitchell Pearce, it’s not immediately obvious where that production can be replaced from. In a game that projected extremely close to begin with, this loss of production just might be enough to put the Tigers over the top.
- We’re not sure what’s more bizarre – Des Hasler voluntarily opting to use effectively a two-man bench rotation last week, or the fact that despite the Sea Eagles’ entire starting pack playing 43 minutes or more (and all bar Taniela Paseka playing 56+), just 2 managed to go for over 100m (Paseka and Sean Keppie). Such is the complete ineffectiveness of Manly’s forwards, and why they need to be concerned coming into a date with one of the league’s nastiest packs. Sure, they were bailed out last week by their outside backs (4 of their backs contributed over 100m), but they can’t keep allowing themselves to be buried down their own end, hoping for Tom Trbojevic to save the day. The difference between the two packs is stark – while the Broncos have run for 460+ post-contact metres in 6 of 9 games this year, Manly have hit that mark just twice. The Eagles’ forwards tendency to fall down immediately on first contact severely limits their go-forward, and has seen them spend most of the season on their own side of halfway. Before Tom Trbojevic arrived, that was a recipe for repeated 30-point hidings. With Tom adding the ability to attack from anywhere on the field (they have 13 line breaks from outside their opponents’ red zone in 4 games with Tom), they’ve been able to paper over this structural flaw in the team. But it hasn’t disappeared, and it’s unlikely they can sustain these big point totals with long-range tries in the long-term. We fully expect Brisbane to crush Manly for field position; the only reason we aren’t tipping them is a lack of faith in Brisbane’s ability to convert that field position into points. If they can somehow get the 5 tries that Penrith and New Zealand have each put on the Eagles over the past fortnight, we think that would be enough to win; unfortunately, we think they’re probably held to about 3.
- Last week, the Bulldogs made it 3 weeks on the trot creating 2 or fewer line breaks in a game. Naturally, coach Trent Barrett has responded by dropping the only player in the squad with more than 2 assists on the season (wait… what?). Sure, Jake Averillo has started 8 games this season and produced just 2 line break assists and 2 try assists (Kyle Flanagan, for the record, has 7 and 6); but no, it’s obviously all Flanagan’s fault. Perhaps Barrett was persuaded by the 12 second-half points that the Dogs put on in Flanagan’s absence last week, and just failed to notice that they came via a one-on-one strip and an intercept. In any event, this is a shit move, and poor treatment of a young half who was specifically targeted to be the side’s long-term #7. If we were Matt Burton, we’d be seriously reconsidering joining an organisation who dumps its top recruit (and only remotely serviceable player) ten weeks into his tenure – especially after the 20+ point hiding they’re about to cop from a Raiders team who haven’t won since Round 4.
- In a wonderful quirk of NRL scheduling, Saturday night will see a meeting of two sides who last week lost by a combined score of 0-98. Of course, both sides had big scores coming their way – the Rabbitohs had conceded 15 line breaks over the fortnight prior to that game; the Sharks had conceded 13 (which was a fortnight that included facing the completely inept Bulldogs). Similarly, with both sides facing the defenses ranked 1st and 2nd in the league, the “0” shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, either (particularly given the spate of injuries for Souths, in particular). The good news here though, is that this week, they get to face each other. The surprise return of Adam Reynolds should see the Bunnies’ offense click back into gear, having scored 18+ in every match so far, up until last week’s shut-out (the Sharks, meanwhile, haven’t hit that mark in 3 weeks). We’ll be tipping Souths (obviously), but we’re particularly keen to see how the Sharks’ pack measures up in this one. Over the past three weeks, the Sharks’ net yardage has gone from +426m to -477m, and then down to -1095m against Penrith. Should this trend continue, they should be outgained this week by about… 2.5 kilometres (we obviously say that in jest, but with a pack led by Aaron Woods and Aidan Tolman, we can’t rule it out, either).
- We warned you last week that the Roosters‘ “injury crisis” was a massive beat-up, and despite the result, we feel vindicated. Here they were, against an apparent heavyweight (Parra aren’t elite, by the way, but we digress), losing Victor Radley and Drew Hutchison before half-time, facing a 65-35 possession share (due to an obscene 11-5 total penalty count), and they somehow made more line breaks than their opponent?! The very fact that this was a one-score game into the 73rd minute despite the entire game being played down the Roosters’ end (the Eels had 63 play-the-balls in the opposition 20, compared to the Roosters’ 8) is all the proof you should need that the Roosters are fine. If the penalty count had been anywhere near even (or, say, players who should have been sent to the bin had of been), the Roosters would have not only won, they would have pumped them. So here we are, with Radley back in, as well as Sitili Tupouniua returning from suspension, and a match-up with the objectively 2nd-worst team in football. Sign. Me. Up.
- We mightn’t think the Eels are elite, but we’re nonetheless confident that they’re better than the Warriors. Parra shape as a particularly bad matchup for New Zealand, as the Eels rank 1st in RMVOA vs the Warriors’ 3rd-last. In practice, this should result in a hefty field position imbalance, and with the Warriors having conceded 10+ line breaks twice in the past 3 weeks, we don’t like their chances of surviving any kind of prolonged stint defending their own line. You might be thinking the loss of Dylan Brown will hurt the Eels’ offense some, but Brown has been completely ineffective so far – so much so that his forced absence may be a blessing. Brown’s 4 try involvements not only places him below all other members of the Eels’ spine, but also behind such superstars as Bryce Cartwright and Tom Opacic, and 19th among NRL five-eighths (impressive, since there’s only 16 teams). In short, the Eels’ offense should roll downfield comfortably enough, allowing them to attack through Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses, as per usual. They’ll be fine.
- With a trio of stars sidelined for the Storm, you may be tempted into tipping the Dragons. We wouldn’t recommend it. Sure, their offense will likely be affected and their run of 3 straight games with double-digit line breaks will almost certainly come to an end. However, the Storm are more than just a well-oiled attacking machine. They’re also the 2nd-best defensive side in the competition, and feature one of the game’s best forward packs. They may not blow the Dragons off the park, but they also mightn’t have to. St George-Illawarra are a pretty limited attacking unit, who had been held to 14 points or less in three games straight prior to beating up on the hopeless Bulldogs (and even then, they managed just 6 points before half-time). There’s no reason whatsoever to think the Dragons will trouble Melbourne’s D (we have them capped at 2 tries, max), meaning Melbourne shouldn’t need to drop another 40-burger this week – indeed, fourteen would probably do it. And can an under-strength backline led by Jahrome Hughes do it? Well, one led by Luke Brooks managed 16, so… yeah.
- The round ends with what we thought could be an interesting test for the Panthers. Much has been made of the record-setting pace their defense is on in 2021, but we should point out that they’ve hardly been tested. Of their nine matches so far, just 3 have been against Top 8-ranked offenses, and in those games they conceded 5 of the 11 tries they’ve given up so far this year. Obviously, an average of under 2 tries per game against above average offenses is still ridiculously good, but it’s also a very small sample size. In the Titans, the Panthers would be facing the 5th-best offense in the league, and one that’s only three weeks removed from dropping 30 points on the Rabbits’ #4-ranked D. The Titans would likely still lose because they can’t tackle anybody (they’ve conceded 28+ in 4 straight games, and leaked 5+ line breaks in all but 2 matches so far), but it would be interesting to see how Penrith’s D fares against an offense firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, the most important piece in the Titans’ offensive engine (I don’t know what that is in this metaphor… the carburetor?) has been left on the mechanic’s bench, with David Fifita rubbed out for two games. With 12 try involvements and 11 line breaks, Fifita not only leads the team in both categories, but leads all second rowers in the NRL (including the beastly Viliame Kikau, who is 5th and 2nd respectively, with just 6 and 5). That’s a lot of missing production that you can’t reasonably expect to get from Beau Fermor (or literally any other second rower in the competition). So, the chances of Penrith’s D getting ripped apart here have dropped dramatically, while the chances of the Titans leaking a big total remain – as always – alarmingly high. Penrith by 20+.