2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 106/144 (74%) (Last week: 7/8)
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
- Let’s take you back to Round 9, Friday night. You probably remember it – it’s the night that saw James Tedesco separated from his head and Drew Hutchison became the victim of an NRL-sanctioned murder; a series of events that kicked off the now-infamous “crackdown”. But do you remember this: an especially clumsy-handed effort from the Roosters presented the Eels with an absurd 65-35 possession advantage, a difference that saw the Eels enjoy 63 tackles in the opposition 20 vs the Roosters’ 8. And what did they do with it? Sweet FA. The Roosters actually earned more total line breaks than Parramatta, and finished the better team in LBVOA (-19.88% v -62.85%), RMVOA (-0.92% v -8.60%) and TBVOA (25.24% v -11.94%). Had the Roosters just produced at their season-average for discipline, they would have not only won, but would have likely run up the score. So, we can only assume that Sydney’s lack of popularity with the punters is due to their relentlessly-trumpeted “injury crisis”, with Matt Ikuvalu and Billy Smith this week heading to the casualty ward. But let’s look back at the roster the Roosters had that night. The only player unavailable now who was actually available then was Ikuvalu. But on the other hand, the Roosters are now bolstered by the inclusions of hooker Sam Verrills, second-rower Sitili Tupouniua, and bench options Lachlam Lam and Egan Butcher. On balance, this Roosters team is surely better than the one that went toe-to-toe with Parramatta the first time (the inclusion of Lam in particular is wise, as a precaution in case Parra take a hit out on Hutchison again). In contrast, this Eels side looks significantly worse. Gone is half Mitch Moses and key utility man Marata Niukore, with the only major addition coming in the form of Nathan Brown (who hasn’t looked his best at all so far this season, anyway). With Moses unavailable, the Eels squandered 41 tackles in the Raiders red zone last week, returning just 2 tries from all that possession. If they couldn’t create line breaks against this Roosters side with Moses, and they couldn’t convert field position into points against the Raiders (whose defense is typically worse than that of Sydney), we just can’t see how any rational observer could consider the Eels favourites, let alone relatively short-priced ones at that. The Roosters look like irresistibly good value, and we’d be loading up before the bookies change their minds.
- We mentioned in last week’s preview that we were gearing up to pick the Warriors this week, and watching the Tigers give up 10+ line breaks for the 3rd time in 4 weeks had us extremely excited. Sadly, on the weekend they were further hammered by injury and suspension, and that’s now been compounded by blokes packing up their things and returning home before the bubble closes. With blokes like Ben Murdoch-Masila and Kane Evans coming in we could have tolerated the losses in the forwards, but it’s extremely hard to get excited about a halves combo of Peta Hiku and Sean O’Sullivan in what’s shaping up as a bit of a shoot-out. As shitty as the Tigers’ D is, their O is effective enough. They’ve now scored 22+ in their past 3 straight, something the Warriors have managed just once in 7 starts with O’Sullivan in the team. As a general rule, we’ll never completely rule out the Warriors while ever Reece Walsh is named in the side, but it’ll be a tough ask to carry this shell of a roster the rest of the way.
- Though we’re inclined to agree with the view that the Broncos have been looking a bit better of late, we still don’t think it’s right for them to ever start a game as favourites against a non-Canterbury opponent. Last weekend was the first time since Round 9 that the Broncos have conceded less than 6 line breaks in a game, and even that ought to come with an asterisk (the Panthers have missed the mark 3 times in 5 Tyrone May starts against pretty ordinary opposition). Prior to that, the Broncs were hemorrhaging monster scores with even greater regularity than the Cowboys, whose own defense is similarly dreadful. The difference then is likely to come on offense, and with Brisbane missing a host of key middles, we think they may really struggle here. With Thomas Flegler and hooker Corey Paix joining John Asiata, Patrick Corrigan and Ben Te’o on the sidelines, Brisbane are missing an entire forward pack’s worth of talent, and running into one of the nastiest packs in the game (the Cowboys rank 3rd in the league for RMVOA). This is not without consequence for Brisbane: in the 6 starts in which the Broncos have been able to outgain their opponents, they’ve averaged a very respectable 4.5 tries per game. In the 12 games they haven’t, though, they’ve never scored more than 4, and average just 2 per game. Remembering that this Cowboys side just put 3 tries and 4 line breaks past the Storm (who are, if you’re not aware, significantly better than Brisbane at everything), any shortage of points for Brisbane would be a real problem. We expect this to be competitive, but feel the Cows bring a little more attacking upside.
- Though it’s never a good thing to score just 10 points against the Gold Coast (indeed, the Dragons were just the 2nd team since Round 6 to put less than 20 on them), we should point out that St George-Illawarra actually weren’t as miserable offensively as it looks – they still managed to put up 8 line breaks and 37 tackle busts on just a 45% possession share. The real problem for the Dragons is on D – despite look decent enough when they’re up against also-rans, they’ve been totally lit up every time they’ve faced a high-end attacking unit. In 5 starts against sides with above-average Offense VOA, the Dragons have leaked at least 5 line breaks in every start, at an average of over 8 per game. That just isn’t going to cut it, especially with 4 of their last 6 games coming against elite offenses. One such attacking unit is the Rabbitohs, who come into this game having scored 30+ in their past 5 straight, including dropping 60 on New Zealand in their last start. Add in a host of barbecue-related suspensions, and the Saints’ inevitable tumble out of the Top 8 should be just about complete.
- The Knights’ clash with the Raiders may be the hardest of the round to predict. There are a slew of big names coming in for both sides (Bradman Best, David Klemmer and Mitch Pearce for Newcastle; Bailey Simonsson, Elliott Whitehead and Jack Wighton for Canberra), which places a huge question mark over the relevance of each side’s recent form-lines. This is important, because on form, the Knights are on a hiding to nothing. Through their past 6 matches, the Knights have scored more than 10 points just once (a thumping 38-0 victory over North Queensland), which is a major issue for a side carrying a defense that leaks like a colander. Theirs isn’t a side built to tackle their way to victory – they prefer to ride home on the back of high-flying offense (of their 7 wins this season, they’ve scored 20+ in 5 of them). Their current price seems to reflect their recent attacking struggles, but the inclusion of Pearce and Best shouldn’t be sneezed at (they’re yet to have Pearce, Best and Kalyn Ponga all on the field at the same time; the only occasion they had Pearce and Ponga together was in the aforementioned 38-point thumping of the Cowboys). So let’s talk this through: let’s say the Knights’ offense clicks straight back into gear. Would that make them an automatic win? Not if the Raiders defend like they did last weekend. We were quick to knock the Raiders’ clunky, unconvincing wins over Manly and Cronulla; wins that depended heavily on monster possession shares. That kind of possession advantage failed to materialise last weekend against Parra, yet the Raiders’ D stood up, limiting the Eels to just 2 tries and 2 line breaks from a lop-sided 56% of the footy. Sure, the Eels were without Mitch Moses, but it was hard to come away as anything other than impressed with Canberra’s defensive resilience. Importantly, this wasn’t out-of-the-blue either – while the Raiders continue to work their offense into some kind of form, they’re defending their way back up the ladder. They’ve now conceded 3 tries or less in their past 3 straight, leaking 10 line breaks combined since giving up 12 to the Gold Coast. They’ll need every bit of that stout defense if the Knights click straight into gear, but on current form we think they’re good enough to force this into a low-scoring grind.
- It looked as if the Storm and Panthers both had an eye on this week’s Grand Final Preview, as the competition’s standard-setters both turned in underwhelming victories against low-level competition. Neither side had much in the way of defensive intensity, with Melbourne conceding their most line breaks since Round 10 (4), and Penrith setting a season-high for missed tackles (a shockingly poor 63). Apparently the bookmakers have been a lot more forgiving of Melbourne’s effort, installing the Panthers as despised outsiders at $5.50. The story seems to go that Melbourne are just too strong, and Penrith aren’t likely to have any points them without Origin stars Nathan Cleary and Api Koroisau in the spine. Though we agree that the Storm deserve a degree of favouritism, that should have nothing to do with the Panthers’ spine. Yes, they’ve struggled somewhat in Cleary’s absence so far (though we use the term “struggle” loosely – they’ve won 4 from 6 without him), but the main problem has been Ivan Cleary’s persistence with using the ill-suited Tyrone May as Cleary’s replacement. Using May as halfback is not so much like forcing a square block through a round hole, as it is taking a steaming dump on the hole and smooshing it around with a screwdriver. Filling Nathan’s role has seen May camped out on the right edge despite clear issues passing left-to-right, leaving Penrith with only half a field to realistically attack from. He also happens to have conceded the 3rd most line breaks in the squad, despite having only started 5 games. But good news: Ivan has been saved from himself, with May among the Panthers’ casualties from last round. So now, the Panthers will be forced to turn to a spine comprised of Dylan Edwards, Matt Burton, Jarome Luai and Mitch Kenny for their clash with the Storm. If that group sounds vaguely familiar, it’s with good reason – it’s the same spine the Panthers trotted out when they beat the Storm back in Round 3 (and which produced the Panthers’ 3rd-highest LBVOA for the season of 47.59% – a number that also happens to be higher than Melbourne’s league-best season average). So, we’re not put off by the Panthers’ spine issues, however we are concerned with the Panthers’ go-forward. The Storm’s RMCVOA is far and away the best in the competition (-12.05%). Ordinarily, Penrith are able to counterbalance that with their own go-forward (the Panthers rank first in the league for RMVOA). However, the Panthers lean heavily on the work of Brian To’o and James Fisher-Harris to get going, with the pair ranked 1st and 4th in the league for run metres, respectively. With that pair both missing (as well as captain Isaah Yeo), it’s difficult to be confident they can replace that production against such an elite defensive unit. Consequently, we expect the Panthers to lose the exchanges between the 20s, and gradually find themselves losing field position through each exchange. Given how close these sides are, that shuold be enough to tip the scales in Melbourne’s favour, but if any side is equipped to defend prolonged periods on their own line, Penrith is it. The Panthers’ defense – which has only conceded more than 2 tries in a game 4 times all season – is so good that they’re always in with a chance, which is what makes their current price look so obscene. But if you’re looking for the best bet of this game, the +18.5 start looks delicious, considering they’ve only conceded more than 18 points twice all year (and no, the Storm game wasn’t one of them).
- For context of how odd that price looks for Penrith, consider the fact that the Bulldogs are paying just $4. Yes, that’s right – the same Bulldogs who’ve won just 2 games all season, and are currently mired in a 5-game losing streak. Though the Dogs have admittedly shown some signs of life recently, this matchup doesn’t look kind to them. Given Canterbury’s attacking limitations, they depend heavily on their defense to put them in with a shot (they haven’t won a game where their opponent has scored more than 16 since 2018). This is bad news against a Titans unit that has points to burn. The Titans put 30 on them in their Round 11 victory, and that was back when the Gold Coast weren’t even playing particularly well. More recently, the Titans have made 7 or more line breaks in 4 of their past 5 (the Bulldogs haven’t done it in any game this season), a period in which every opponent was ranked in the Top 8 for defense (Canterbury, by the way, rank 13th). It shouldn’t be too hard for the Gold Coast to hit a total that’s too much for the Doggies to run down.
- You could hear the sound of hearts collectively sinking across the Shire when the news broke of Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson being ruled out for four weeks with a hamstring tear. Theirs has been a tale of two seasons: at the end of Round 11 and with a record of 3-8, the Sharkies packed Chad Townsend’s bags and turned to Johnson as their #7. From that moment their season turned, going 5-2 since SJ took over, and launching the unlikeliest of runs for a playoff berth. SJ has almost single-handedly lifted his side’s LBVOA from -14.47% to 14.12% since he took the halfback gig, lifting their output by over 1 try per game. Without him, Cronulla will be forced to turn to the inexperienced duo of Brayden Trindall and Connor Tracey, a combo with less than 50 first grade games between them. Against Des Hasler’s retro umbrella defense this is likely to be an issue, as the Sea Eagles present an unusual defensive look that this pair are unlikely to be familiar with. Should they struggle to find the weaknesses in Des’ D, you’re likely to see the young halves getting consistently rushed, and turning the ball back inside to be gobbled up by the meat of Manly’s defense. It’s worth noting though that Matt Moylan is currently on the extended bench, and his late, flat style of footy has historically troubled Hasler’s defenses, with Moylan’s sides 6 from 7 against Hasler, and averaging 26 points per game. Should Moylan play, this has the potential to be a lot tighter than most expect, though we’d probably still rather be on Manly. If Moylan sits, Cronulla likely get pumped.