2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 125/168 (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
- After watching the Titans get steamrolled by Souths last weekend, we doubt any of you were giving serious thought to tipping them here against the Storm. However, given the loss of a number of key Melbourne players – a group headlined by halfback Jahrome Hughes and utility Branden Smith – perhaps it’s worth giving it a second look. In Melbourne’s one game without Hughes this year, they comfortably hammered a struggling Canberra side 34-10 (however, it’s worth noting that they did it with their 6th-lowest LBVOA of the season). But that’s a pretty small sample size, so let’s go back to last year. Then, the Storm played 4 games without Hughes… and lost 3 of them (and to jog your memory, they’d lose just 1 other game all year). We’re not saying that Melbourne are about to lose here; what we’re saying is that you should expect the Storm to be a fair bit worse than usual this week – something that doesn’t appear to have been baked into their price (yet). At $8, the bookies seem to have formed the view that the Titans are somehow worse than sides like Canterbury, which is a position we find difficult to justify. Perhaps it’s because of the absence of AJ Brimson. But did you know that the Titans have already played Melbourne this year without Brimson – a match that they lost just 20-14 (the Storm’s 2nd-lowest winning margin this year)? To reiterate: we’re not about to tip the Titans straight-up; however, if you want to get loose, we think the current price is totally out of whack, and something like the +22.5 start looks extremely tempting against a Storm side who failed to score more than 26 points in any game without Hughes a year ago.
- As with the game above, we’re not about to recommend tipping against the Sea Eagles head-to-head here, but it’s worth recognising that the current pricing of the game seems to be assuming that Tom Trbojevic does play (which he very well might, but it’s not yet certain), while failing to acknowledge the potential return of Charnze Nikoll-Klokstad for the Raiders (he’s been named in jersey #14). We shouldn’t need to tell you that Manly are a lot worse without Turbo playing, but given the persistent myth that the team no longer leans on Tommy because he’s somehow passed his talent through the rest of the squad via osmosis, it’s worth driving home just how big a difference he makes. 3 of Manly’s 4 lowest LBVOAs since Round 8 (when they were completely shut down by Penrith) have come in the 3 games that Turbo wasn’t playing. Yes, they managed to win 2 of those games, but those wins came against the Cowboys (and was part of what has now become a 9-game losing streak) and the Dragons (part of what has since become a 5-game losing streak). Put simply, winning those games doesn’t make Manly suddenly Turbo-proof – it simply puts them on equal footing with the Tigers. Oh, and the game they did lose without Turbo? It was against Canberra – you know, the same Canberra they’re running into this week. Well, it’s almost the same Canberra – the Raiders may yet be getting CNK back, and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt since he’s been out, it’s just how valuable he is to Canberra when he’s in. In the 4 full games he played to open the year, the Raiders won 3, and produced a LBVOA of 2.28%; since he went down though, they’ve won just 6 of 17, and seen their LBVOA drop to -17.84%. Should Turbo play, it’s probably all academic – you’d have to expect the Eagles to pour on the points, as they do against every other non-elite D. But if Turbo’s out – and even better, if CNK’s in – the Raiders look a lot less like the $4.50 underdogs they’re currently priced as, and a lot more like a coin-flip (and if you can get $4+ on a coin-flip, you should take it in a heartbeat).
- The Panthers/Rabbitohs clash on Friday night is an absolute slam dunk for match of the round, with the NRL’s 2nd-best team facing arguably the most in-form team in the competition. For what it’s worth, we prefer Penrith here, and actually pretty solidly. The reasons for this are fourfold. First, we’ve already seen the Panthers play Souths at full-strength this year, and it wasn’t pretty. The Panthers completely annihilated Souths that afternoon, to the tune of 56-12. Though we accept that the Rabbits are in much better touch now than they were then (and that the Panthers are in much scratchier form), 44 points is a lot to make up. Second, if you’re banking on Penrith’s recent form slump continuing on (and as far as form slumps go, we’re sure teams like Parra would love to enjoy a “form slump” of winning 6 of their last 7), you’re likely to be disappointed. With Nathan Cleary, Stephen Crichton and Isaah Yeo returning, they suddenly had a lot more sizzle back in their offense (albeit accompanied by a stack of handling errors, but it’s fair to expect a degree of rust). This week, that group are likely to be joined by Kurt Capewell, Api Koroisau and Tevita Pangai Jr. Speaking of Cleary, while Manly’s Turbojevic (the good one) gets all the plaudits, you might be interested to learn that it’s actually Cleary who remains undefeated in 2021, having won 14 NRL matches and both his Origin starts. Third, we pointed it out the last time these sides played, but the point still stands – Penrith’s D matches up extremely well against the Rabbitohs’ offense. Penrith’s swarming defense and control of the ruck has the effect of taking Damien Cook out of the game (the last time they met, Cook failed to register a single run), which then limits Souths’ offense to wide shifts down their left edge. This would be fine (Souths have arguably the best left attacking edge in the league), were it not for the fact that Penrith have the best defensive right edge in the league. If the Rabbits are forced to funnel their attack down that channel, the Panthers will be licking their lips, with guys like Crichton (just 7 line breaks conceded in 20 starts), Paul Momrovski (4 conceded from 12 starts) and Cleary (3 conceded from 13 starts) more than comfortable shutting them down. Finally, with Alex Johnston named to return for Souths, we’ll see Josh Mansour shunted back to the right wing, where he was relentlessly abused the last time these sides met, and where he’ll inevitably be targeted again. If Souths’ left edge is the game’s best, the Panthers’ would be right up there, but the difference in defensive quality on Souths’ right edge is night-and-day. Compare Penrith’s defensive right edge numbers (above) to Souths: Mansour has leaked 6 line breaks from 10 starts; Campbell Graham has 12 from 15; and Adam Reynolds has 17 from 20. Added together, Penrith’s right edge has given up 14 breaks from a combined 45 starts; the Rabbitohs? 35 from 45. We fully expect both sides to be up for it, but frankly, we just think Penrith are better at football than Souths, and that this matchup in particular is a kind one for Penrith (they’ve won their last 4 straight against the Bunnies). At $1.70+, we think they’re actually good value.
- We were kind of hoping to get the Sharks at a good price this week after they were unlucky in going down to Newcastle, while the Tigers are coming off a pretty comfortable win over North Queensland (yes, they made it look extremely difficult towards the end, but they were well in control for the majority of the game). Unfortunately, nobody seems to buying into that effort from Wests (and we don’t blame them), so this game seems priced about right – the Sharks will start favourites, but not overwhelmingly so. Should Matt Moylan play, we might call the Sharks a value at their current price, especially with Wests losing Jacob Liddle (on top of the continued absence of Daine Laurie). Liddle doesn’t get a lot of wraps (to be fair, Harry Grant left some enormous shoes to fill), but he has been superb for Wests this year, and is currently 6th in his team for LBs, and tied-2nd in the NRL among all hookers (he’s actually tied with Damien Cook, from 1 fewer game). His value was particularly glaring during a 3-game absence earlier in the season, in which the Tigers never scored more than 16 points in a game (from their other 18 games, they’ve exceeded 16 points 13 times). With both Liddle and Laurie gone, we don’t find a lot to be excited about with the Tigers’ offense, though we acknowledge that the Sharkies are hardly world-beaters themselves. If Moylan plays, he’ll be the best player on the field and should tip the game comfortably into Cronulla’s favour. If he doesn’t, we still prefer the Sharks, but you might be looking at another ugly grinder like Cronulla’s tussle with Newcastle last week – a tussle that they ultimately lost.
- After turning in a competitive-ish outing against the Rabbitohs in Round 18, the Bulldogs have seen their LBVOA decline every week since, hitting a recent low with a dismal -60.01% against New Zealand last weekend. They’ve now leaked 4+ tries in every game for 8 weeks straight, and are running into a Knights side who have only gotten their first choice spine together in the past week or so. You have to think that the Knights’ offense will click into gear sooner or later, and what better team to play them into form than your 2021 Wooden Spooners? Don’t be put off by the loss of Daniel Saifiti and Tyson Frizell – the Dogs have only outgained one opponent all year, and that was the Dragons (who rank last in the NRL for RMVOA). This pack should still be plenty good enough to beat the Dogs; it’ll then be up to their spine to decide by how much.
- Trying to assess how the Eels might fare this weekend is a bit tricky. On one hand, we shouldn’t be too put off by their recent attacking struggles – we already knew that their offload-happy attacking structure does absolutely nothing to trouble high-end defensive units, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve underwhelmed week-after-week as they’ve run into the toughest section of their draw. The problem though, is that that while they’ve finally got a shot at another cupcake, they’ll be left to do it without it without guys like Reed Mahoney, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson. The absence of RCG in particular has been tough on Parra, whose entire gameplan is built around dominating field position. With RCG in the team, they’ve outgained their opposition in 15 of 18 games; without him, they’ve been outgained themselves in all 3, and by an average yardage of over 450m per game. We warned last week that trotting out their best tackle-busting edge forward Isaiah Papali’i at prop was mind-bogglingly stupid and a total waste of his talent, and after seeing him used as an ineffective battering ram with 9 hit-ups for 6.5m per tote, you’d think Brad Arthur would have learnt his lesson. Nope. Now, they find themselves in a date with the Cowboys, who – despite being terrible at most aspects of rugby league – are actually the 2nd-best team in the league for RMVOA. This makes for a really difficult game to predict – on one hand, the Eels love playing defensive powderpuffs, and this is exactly the sort of opponent that Parramatta typically likes to put 50 on. But on the other hand, they’re in awful form themselves, and are suffering the effects of a few key absences, which actually line up quite well with the Cow’s strengths. We’re inclined to give Parra the benefit of the doubt this week (heck, if they don’t win this week, they may not win again this year) but it’s far from a lock, and we actually wouldn’t hate anyone who wanted to roll the dice on the Cowboys. Parramatta have been that bad.
- While the Dragons’ stats actually didn’t end up being that bad against Penrith, don’t be misled – they got a fair bump in the last 10 minutes after Nathan Cleary went off, and the Panthers ended the game with 12 men. Instead, look at the Dragons’ production in the first half, where they had 62% possession, 25 tackles in Penrith’s red zone, and won the total penalty count 5-2. With everything imaginable going their way, they managed to produce just 1 try and 1 line break, while turning an extra 29 runs into just 47 more metres. In the hope of finding a bit of attacking spark, Anthony Griffin has parachuted Matt Dufty back into the starting side here, and the return of Tariq Sims is sure to help, too. But you also should be aware that they’ve been forced to roll with Josh McGuire at hooker – a bloke who can barely pass, and whose very presence in the team has coincided with their worst runs of the season (their 4-game winning streak to start the year was snapped by his arrival; he was out injured for 2 of their 3 mid-season wins; and has now been conspicuously present in 4 games of their current 5-game losing streak). The Roosters‘ D may not be the equal of Penrith’s, but it’s still pretty darn good (they’ve conceded 3 tries or fewer for their last 6 straight), and their offense is good enough to rip apart some of the best defenses in the league (indeed, when these sides met in Round 7, the Roosters pumped the Dragons 34-10). We really like the Roosters here, and fully expect them to romp in.
- There’s still a long way to go, but the Warriors are coming. They’ve now quietly made it 3 on-the-hop, and with each passing week they seem to be getting more and more troops back. The sooner they can get Chad Townsend in over Sean O’Sullivan the better (Townsend is named on the extended bench again, so you can consider our hopes firmly “up”), but regardless, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Bayley Sironen returning this week, we’re fast approaching the best side they’ve put on paper in months. This game is priced quite interestingly, with the Broncos apparently quite popular following their narrow loss to the Roosters. As it happens, we’re thrilled to see the Warriors price creep longer, and fully intend to load up should they hit $2. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Broncos have been better ‘lately’ – they absolutely have been. However, you can’t ignore the fact that for much of that ‘lately’ Kotoni Staggs was ripping teams apart, and he’s now unfortunately unavailable. In Staggs’ 4 games, the Broncos had an unusually competitive LBVOA of -0.93%. You know how many times this season they’ve hit that mark without him? 3. Taking Staggs out immediately blunts the effectiveness of Jordan Riki (since opposition defenders can key in on him), and will likely see them directing their attack away from him and towards Herbie Farnworth on the left. This is fine, but we’ve been extremely impressed with the Warriors’ right edge defensively since Euan Aitken moved to right second row, and we doubt whether it’s an attacking approach that’s likely to outscore whatever Reece Walsh feels like producing. With Walsh, the Warriors are capable of attacking straight through the middle if he finds big, slow defenders (the Warriors put 3 line breaks through the middle third of the field last week), and he’s unusually comfortable attacking to his right (where he’ll find the defensively-challenged Farnworth, who’s leaked 19 tries and 21 line breaks in his 17 starts). We like this match-up for New Zealand, and we’re liking them in general at the moment. Let’s gone Warriors.