2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 71/96 (74%) (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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- Origin-affected rounds have long been a nightmare for the Broncos, who have seen their side annually decimated for as long as we can remember. Not any more though, with Brisbane set to be rewarded for their new-found mediocrity with relatively few Origin players. Indeed, we’re inclined to argue that Brisbane have actually gained more than they lost this week, with the absence of Payne Haas offset by the return of Matt Lodge, and the loss of Xavier Coates covered by the debut of highly-rated youngster Selwyn Cobbo. In addition, the Broncos also get back halfback Tyson Gamble, and second-rowers Alex Glenn and Jordan Riki. Gamble’s inclusion comes predictably at the expense of Anthony Milford, and should see the Broncos’ offense pick up where it left off prior to his suspension. In Gamble’s four starts this year, the Broncos’ LBVOA has improved from -23.70% without Gamble to -6.80% with him, and averaged 4 tries per game (admittedly -6.80% by definition isn’t good, but it should be noted that the Dragons have hit this mark in just 4 of 12 matches this season). This isn’t due to any great creativity from Gamble directly (he has just 1 try assist and 2 line break assists), but rather due to the direction and structure that he provides, making the players around him more effective (Jamayne Isaako in particular has been significantly more productive with Gamble in the side, producing 5 try assists and 5 line break assists in the 4 games with Gamble, and just 1 and 2 respectively in the 8 games without him). Perhaps the biggest ins for Brisbane though are Glenn and Riki (assuming Riki is promoted to the Top 17 by kick-off). Here, what stands out isn’t so much what they’ve done with the ball, so much as what they’ve done without it. Since losing Glenn to a calf injury, the Broncos have been forced to move Tevita Pangai to the edge, where his poor decision-making and lack of lateral mobility is easily exposed. Pangai has conceded a whopping 11 line breaks from just 12 starts this year; Glenn conceded just 3 from 6 starts, and Riki 5 from 10. Oh, and Glenn’s 6 games came against 5 of the 6 best offenses in the NRL (and also Canterbury), making his defensive numbers all the more impressive (as a team, the Broncos’ LBCVOA improves from 8.85% without Glenn to -4.38% with him in the team). If the Broncos can return Glenn and Riki to the edges, they’ll be better able to hide Pangai in defense (as much as one can hide a 190cm, 117kg behemoth), while still using him to batter the pathetic Dragons’ forward pack into submission. And yes, they are indeed pathetic. Not entirely of their own accord, mind you – in fairness, their entire starting back row of Tariq Sims, Tyrell Fuimaono and Josh McGuire is unavailable, and Trent Merrin retired mid-season – but nonetheless, they’ve been getting destroyed in recent weeks. A fortnight ago they were beaten by 182m by a Cronulla team who’d been outgained by an average of over 500m per game across the three weeks prior (in fact, St George somehow gave up over 100m to every member of the Sharks’ starting pack – a pack containing noted plodders Aaron Woods and Aidan Tolman – plus one of the benchies), before last week getting smoked for 375m by a Tigers side who had won the yardage battle just 4 times prior all season (and Saints would have again conceded over 100m to the entire starting pack – plus a benchie – were it not for Luke Garner falling 4m short; although it should be mentioned that the Dragons did manage to give him 9.6 metres-per-carry, so they weren’t too tough on him). Given the manner that these pretty ordinary packs have had their way with St George-Illawarra, we can’t help but wonder what Pangai, Lodge and John Asiata might be able to do to them if the Broncos aim up. Perhaps this is why Anthony Griffin has immediately recalled Jack De Belin into the side, despite not having played for the better part of two years (you’d expect most players would be told to do a lengthy stint in reserves while they regain match fitness; I guess De Belin’s just the kind of guy who won’t take no for an answer). In any event, we love this match-up for Brisbane’s forwards and can see them laying the platform for a huge boilover.
- Speaking of well-priced underdogs, the Tigers are looking like a decent value play this week as well at their current price of $2.75. They’re coming in off a dominant win over an under-strength Dragons outfit, and now have the good fortune of meeting a Panthers side missing no less than 8 regular starters. They should be extremely competitive here, and deserve to be closer to the $2 mark, given the sheer volume of troops Penrith are missing. Why then, are we stopping short of actually backing the Tigers head-to-head? I’m glad you asked. In short, it’s because despite missing half their squad, the side the Panthers are trotting out somehow still looks awesome. Their backline is essentially untouched, missing only the Mighty Mouse, Brian To’o (who has been incredible, but will be capably replaced by Robert Jennings). They have the luxury of trotting out a halves combination of Matt Burton and Tyrone May (and let’s face it – any halves combo spear-headed by Burton is better than one led by Luke Brooks). And their forward pack – despite missing four regular starters – is still stacked. They’re headlined by the best front-rower in the NRL, James Fisher-Harris (some may disagree, but they’d be wrong) and the best second-rower not named David Fifita (Viliame Kikau). And as for the four replacements: they have Spencer Leniu (10.2 metres-per-carry – more than any Tigers forward), Mitch Kenny (10 metres-per-carry – more than any Tigers hooker) and Scott Sorenson (ridiculously handsome – more than any Tigers player). Oh, and the weakest link is probably Matt Eisenhuth – the very same Matt Eisenhuth who was considered good enough to start 10 games for this Tigers pack in 2020. The only area where the Tigers appear to have a clear advantage is on the bench, with Penrith’s cubs having a combined 18 first grade appearances between them (and 17 of those are Jaeman Salmon). Michael Maguire seems to have identified this inexperience, and plans to welcome them to first grade with an absolutely enormous bench rotation (we don’t blame him – we’d do the same). But at this point, having seen the quality of player that’s been rolling off the Penrith production line for the past few years, can we even be confident that the Tigers have the advantage there? If Penrith were at full strength, we’d have them projected to score around 6 tries. Even if we halve that projection due to the mass of changes (and in all likelihood that may be too harsh on the young Panthers), the fact is that the Tigers would still need to find 3+ tries against a Panthers D who haven’t conceded more than 3 in a game all season, and whose edge combinations still look rock solid. The Tigers will give themselves a great chance if they can rip in while Penrith’s starters are off the field; if Penrith are in front once the main rotation returns, it’s probably curtains.
- Unlike the Tigers above, who we’re giving a huge shot at pulling off the upset, we do not feel the same way about the Titans against the remnants of the Storm team. The difference here is that the Titans’ D is on a whole different planet of awful compared to any other side in the league. The mass of players currently missing for Melbourne due to injury and Origin – a list that includes Cameron Munster, Harry Grant, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Josh Addo-Carr, among others – is virtually irrelevant against a D that hemorrhages points week after week. In giving up 38 points to Cronulla last weekend (a Cronulla side who had been held to 14 or less in 4 of their past 5), the Titans made it 7 weeks on the trot that they’ve conceded 20+. And that 7 weeks hasn’t been against a who’s who of attacking powerhouses – this period included facing the offenses ranked last, 3rd-last, 4th-last and 5th-last. Put simply, it doesn’t seem to matter at all how rubbish teams are in attack, they still manage to drop 20+ on the Titans with disturbing regularity. So why should we consider a reserve grade-level Storm side any different? It feels inevitable that the Gold Coast will give up a big total, and with David Fifita, AJ Brimson and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui all out, it’s hard to see how they can find enough points to then be competitive. Storm by plenty.
- The Knights will have won a lot of fans last weekend, when they were able to do exactly what the Eels couldn’t a week earlier – convert a lop-sided possession and field position advantage (in this case, 57% and a net yardage win of 346m) into a win against Manly. Unfortunately for Newcastle, bad luck has conspired to rob them of a serious chance to roll that performance into a bit of momentum. The issue here should be obvious – if they need that much footy and so much field position just to squeak out an 8-point win, how competitive will they be without it? They’re about to find out, as they run into a Parramatta side who sing from the same hymn book, but are virtually unaffected by rep footy (with good reason) and who prior to last week had earned 50% or more of the possession in their past 7 straight. To make matters worse, the poor old Knights will have to do it without the very players who laid such a good platform for them against the Eagles – David Klemmer (who came up with 195m), Daniel Saifiti (155m) and Tyson Frizell (134m) are all out due to injury or Origin. The Eels are not a side you want to run into without your best forwards – they rank 2nd in the league for RMVOA, and are getting back Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who had been in career-best form prior to his suspension. Given the fact that the Knights are already rolling with a reserve grade standard backline, it’s inconceivable to us that they can find a way to beat a Parra squad approaching full strength. And if the Eels do find a way to lose this game, it will be extremely embarrassing.