2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 78/108 (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
- Through much of this season, the Broncos had been showing glimpses of competitiveness, with their offense being reasonably productive while their defense consistently lets the team down (they’ve conceded less than 20 points in a game just 3 times). In response – understandably – Kevin Walters seems to have been on a mission to dump the players most responsible for the shoddy defense. First, it was Tesi Niu (7 line breaks conceded from just 6 starts) and Anthony Milford (3rd most in the team for missed tackles, and 2nd in ineffective tackles). Still, they leaked points. So, in Round 8, Brodie Croft got the punt (the most kicking errors in the team, and a further 5 tries conceded in just 7 starts). Corey Oates (5 line breaks conceded in 5 starts) and Jamayne Isaako (the most errors in the team and the lowest tackle efficiency) have similarly been banished to the Netherrealm. And what result has this had? Against Canberra, the Broncos made it 3 games on the trot that they’ve given up 38 or more points, showing that however bad these guys might be, their replacements don’t appear to be any better. Their problems then become compounded by the fact that all these players have the same thing in common – they’re the Broncos’ most productive offensive players. In Isaako, Milford and Croft, the Broncos have omitted 3 of their 4 team leaders in line break assists and try assists. Niu has 5 try involvements from just 6 games. Oates is one of just four players in the team averaging over 10m per carry. And what do you suppose happens when you eliminate every remotely dangerous attacking player from the squad? Over the past three weeks, the Broncos have produced a paltry LBVOA of -58.90% (worst in the league), after having been at -9.32% over the opening five weeks (before all the chopping and changing started). Now, Walters seems to have placed himself in a spot where he’s forced to give Karmichael Hunt another run, despite him producing 0 line breaks, 0 tackle breaks and 0 assists last weekend, just because Albert Kelly is injured and Milford’s papers have been stamped “never to return again”. The lesson here is that perhaps you should only drop players for underperformance if you have someone better to replace them with. The whole thing is a mess, and they’ve suddenly found themselves back in the race for the Wooden Spoon as a result.
- The Cowboys and Sharks were on opposite ends of surprise results last weekend (we failed to tip either result), as the Cowboys failed to convert a 12-0 lead over a Tom Trbojevic-less Sea Eagles into a win, while Cronulla hung on to snatch a last-gasp victory over an Origin-depleted Penrith side. Though the results were different, the root cause for the surprise outcomes was identical – discipline. Against Manly, the Cowboys produced their worst effort since Round 1, making an unbelievable 16 errors, coupled with a further 12 total penalties conceded – resulting in Manly receiving a net total of 14 extra sets, and a 57-43 possession advantage. The extra defensive workload gassed the bigger Cowboys forwards, and saw Manly run away with the contest just before halftime. In contrast, the Sharks were able to run up a lead via an almost flawless first half, in which they made just 2 errors and conceded 2 total penalties, earning a 60-40 possession advantage, and taking an 18-0 lead. Granted, they then saw that lead evaporate when the Panthers’ starting pack returned in the second half, but the damage was already done – this was a win earned in the first stanza (and capped with a field goal at the death). Though we’d warn you against expecting either side to repeat these sorts of numbers on Friday (both are outliers compared to their season-long numbers), it is reasonable to expect some sort of possession advantage for the Sharks – Cronulla rank 5th in the league for handling errors (9.9 per game), whereas the Cowboys are the worst (11.5); Cronulla also happen to have the best record for total penalties conceded (6.8 per game), while the Cows are 10th (8.4). More significantly though, is the difference Shaun Johnson has made since pinching Chad Townsend’s halfback jersey. Johnson has produced 3 line break assists in his 2 games back – a huge leap in production from Townsend, who averaged 0.55 per game. Accordingly, the Sharks’ LBVOA has skyrocketed to 63.65% since his return. With Johnson and Matt Moylan together, the Sharks seem to have found a halves combination that can be genuinely productive (albeit one that upper management doesn’t particularly want). We expect the Cows’ defense to be better with a more even possession share and Coen Hess returning to the middle of the field where he’s a much better fit, but with the Cows having leaked 6+ line breaks in 5 of their past 6, we’re still inclined to back Cronulla to keep the good times rolling.
- After their depleted squad lost 2 games back-to-back, we could certainly understand folks starting to doubt the Panthers. Our advice? Don’t. All of Penrith’s issues in their recent losses have stemmed from either their huge decline in run metres (they’ve averaged an obscene 475 net run metres per game over the season; without their Origin stars that’s dropped to -54, a difference of over 5 football fields worth of yardage per game) or their drop in effectiveness on their (comparatively few) trips to the red zone (after averaging 5.6 tries per game pre-Origin, they’ve averaged 2 tries per game in the fortnight since). Both should be corrected here. Incoming is Brian To’o and Isaah Yeo (1st and 4th on the team for runs of 8m+), while the return of Penrith’s Origin halves pairing should see their offense instantly click back into point-scoring mode. And as an added bonus, the difficult fortnight also unveiled Izack Tago as a budding star, with the youngster keeping his bench gig after an impressive fortnight in which he averaged over 10m per carry, busted 5 tackles, scored a try and didn’t concede a line break. We really like the Roosters as a side this year, but we don’t think they can match it when Penrith are at their best, and on their return to Penrith Park and with their stars all back, we fully expect Penrith to be at their best.
- Clear your schedules – Saturday arvo, 3pm is going to be a screamer. In the red (and blue) corner, we have the Knights, suddenly boosted by the return of their two chief playmakers, Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce (they also get Hymel Hunt back too, for good measure). If you’re thinking “gee, that probably makes the Knights a lot better offensively”, you’re absolutely right. On the season, the Knights have a LBVOA of -5.67% (10th in the league). But in their 5 starts with Ponga (who, may we remind you, has yet to play alongside Pearce this season), that shoots up to 26.74% (good enough for 2nd). So, on the back of this attacking explosion, Newie are a shoo-in, right? Not so fast. You see, the Warriors are enjoying a similar offensive spike thanks to their own Boy Wonder, Reece Walsh. With Walsh playing, the Warriors lift their LBVOA from 1.76% (6th) to 20.70% – placing them fairly in the neighbourhood of Ponga and his Knights. So, if both sides are playing a similarly exciting standard of attacking footy, how can we split them? We fancy the Warriors have two clear advantages. First, is the return of Addin Fonua-Blake. Rarely would we point to a prop forward as being a huge difference-maker, but for AFB we’ll make an exception. Fonua-Blake returned last weekend off the bench (and instantly dropped a 10 metres-per-carry effort, of course), contributing to an performance that saw New Zealand post the 5th-best yardage of any team against Melbourne this year (and they did it on just 46% possession). With run metres having been generally hard to come by for New Zealand this season with their best metre-eater on the shelf (they rank 4th-last in RMVOA), it bodes well for them to suddenly take it to one of the game’s best forward packs. Second, we point to the continued presence of Enari Tuala in the Knights’ backline. Tuala has been consistently abused by opposition offenses, conceding the most line breaks (21) and 3rd-most tries (17) of any player in the NRL this season. Ideally, he wouldn’t be in the team, but with Bradman Best and Edrick Lee still on ice, the Knights are forced to continue trotting him out, providing a clear target for Walsh and company to exploit. Accordingly, we’re giving the Warriors the edge, and expect them to get home in a shoot-out, likely scoring 24+.
- It’s hard to say if the Raiders have shot into favouritism this week on the back of their own performance (which was their best of the season across virtually all their offensive metrics), or as a result of the Dragons‘ embarrassing flogging at the hands of Canterbury. If it’s the latter, we’d warn not to expect the Dragons to be that bad again – they posted their fewest tries, line breaks, tackle breaks, offloads and run metres all in the same game, against the worst team in the NRL. It would be impossible for them (or anyone) to be as completely ineffective as St George-Illawarra were last week. Yes, it was an other-worldly level of terrible, but it was also an aberration. We fully expect them to return to their typical level of terrible this weekend (well, let’s not kid ourselves – they are ranked 2nd-last for Offense for a reason). As for the Raiders, they might actually be on to something. Though we still think their D needs work, their offense might actually be getting there. In thumping the Broncos, the Raiders made it their 2nd consecutive game with a positive LBVOA (something the Dragons have achieved just 5 times all season), led by a superb debut fullback outing by Bailey Simonsson. The Raiders’ offense has been struggling since losing Charnze Nikoll-Klokstad to injury, with Caleb Aekins providing solid but unspectacular contributions (3 try assists, 5 line break assists and 2 line breaks in 7 starts). Simonsson blew the doors off against Brisbane, posting 2 try assists, 3 line break assists and 1 line break in just his first start (he also casually ran for a team-high 245m). If Simonsson can produce something similar in his encore performance, the Raiders won’t just be comfortably better than St George-Illawarra – they might have just found the spark-plug to ignite their season.
- It should go without saying that the Storm are significantly better than the Tigers (heck, they’re significantly better than pretty much everybody), but it’s worth pointing out that the Tigpies’ capitulation against Parramatta was not only predictable, but the very kind of thumping loss that had been building throughout their recent “successful” run (we use the inverted commas since their only wins have come against teams with severe attacking deficiencies, mainly due to significant player absences – the Dragons, Panthers and Knights). Wests fans were all screaming about the injustice of the penalty count against Parra (17 total penalties to 8), but it’s worth noting that this wasn’t out of character for Wests – the Tigers’ discipline has been getting steadily worse for weeks. Through the Tigers’ opening 5 games, they didn’t concede double-digit penalties once; but since that time, they’ve now done it in 5 of their past 9, culminating in back-to-back 17 penalty efforts over the past fortnight. Similarly, they’ve been getting just as loose with the ball, making double-digit errors in their past 4 straight, after doing do just 4 times in their first 10. They’ve been able to avoid taking too much punishment through this period, in large part thanks to some similarly atrocious discipline by their opponents – in all of the Tigers’ past 4 wins, their opponents have made at least 11 errors and conceded at least 9 penalties – preventing the kind of possession disadvantage you would typically find associated with these kinds of numbers. But against Parramatta, they found an opponent who didn’t make a habit of giving away penalties, and as a result, Wests found themselves on the arse-end of a 56-44 possession count, and got pumped 40-12 accordingly (it’s also worth mentioning that Parra did still make 14 errors – had their handling been even remotely decent, the Eels could have gotten north of 60%). With Melbourne having won the possession in all but 2 of their matches so far, the Tigers are going to have to significantly improve if they’re to make this game competitive, and even then, the Storm would likely blow it out in the second half. We like Melbourne, and fancy they’re a good shot to score 40+.
- It seems like funky possession counts was the theme of last weekend, with the Bulldogs’ upset of the Dragons a perfect case study in how even the worst teams can compete if their discipline is good enough. Canterbury lack any sort of competence in the fundamentals of rugby league – they rank last in the league for LBVOA, last for TBVOA, and are a distant last for conceding run metres. Taken together, it’s typical to expect the Bulldogs to lose the yardage battle (they’d been outgained in every game this season until last weekend); and on the rare occasions they do get down their opponent’s end, they’re unlikely to do much with it. So, the only way you could expect Canterbury to be competitive would be to keep the ball out of their opponent’s hands as much as possible, via low error and penalty counts, and forced repeat sets. With more possession in better field position, they at least give themselves a chance to jag a few tries from kicks (since they’re chronically incapable of generating line breaks), while starving their opponent of opportunities to inflict damage themselves. Unsurprisingly then, the Dogs’ three best outings of the year – their wins over Cronulla and Saints, and narrow loss to Canberra – came with error counts of just 8, 5 and 5 (their average across all other games is 9.8) – and last weekend they were able to further back that up by conceding just 7 total penalties. The result was an incredible 58-42 possession advantage from which it is almost impossible to lose (for why we say ‘almost’, continue reading below). If they can do this with regularity, they’ll be a chance to compete with any of the bottom 8 sides, if they’re having a bad day. If not, they’ll just return to getting whooped.
- Now, we just pointed to it being ‘almost’ impossible to lose with 58%+ of the possession. We say ‘almost’ because the Titans have just managed to do the impossible – lose back-to-back matches, despite earning a 59% possession share in both of them. The amazing part of this isn’t just that they managed to lose (in fairness, these games were against the Storm and Roosters), but the fact that they somehow managed to concede 20 and 35 points respectively to teams who had just 41% of the football(!). It’s no secret that the Titans’ D is awful, but to leak so many points to teams who barely touched the footy is in a totally different universe of incompetence. For the sake of comparison, let’s look at how other bad defenses have fared with monster possession shares:
- Newcastle (57%) vs Manly: 10 points conceded;
- Canterbury (58%) vs St George-Illawarra: 6 points conceded;
- Wests (55%) vs St George-Illawarra: 8 points conceded.
The sole exception was the Tigers’ tribute to Tommy Raudonikis, in which they bled 34 points, despite a 56% possession share. In general, no matter how shockingly bad a defense may be, earning these sorts of volumes sufficiently limits opponent scoring opportunities to ensure the score remains beatable… unless you’re the Titans. At this point, the Titans’ D is so bad, it’s near impossible to tip them against any team with a defense capable of slowing down the Titans’ (admittedly high-powered) offense. As it happens, the Sea Eagles rank 5th in the league for Defense, held the Titans to nil the last time they played, and are welcoming back Tom Trbojevic. We fully expect Manly to drop 30+, which will be more than enough.