2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 132/176 (75%) (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
- Round 24 has thrown up a real head-scratcher to kick off the weekend, with the perpetually unimpressive Knights running into the hot-and-cold Titans. It feels like every week we’re writing about how we expect Newcastle’s offense to click sooner or later and – although they have at least been winning – it appears the answer remains eternally set to ‘later’. With 55% possession and over 500m of territorial advantage, it was difficult to be whelmed by the Knights’ 22-16 win over Canterbury. The Knights’ 4 tries scored against the Dogs merely equaled that of the Warriors and Tigers in the two weeks prior, and fell well short of the Titans’ 6 tries against the same opponent on just 49% possession. This win was typical of all the Knights’ recent victories – their offense was clunky and ineffective, but they were able to get home through weight of possession and field position. The Knights haven’t won a game without winning both possession and yardage since Round 9, which is a reflection of just how disjointed their offense has been. This could put them in some trouble against a side like the Gold Coast, who don’t require a lot of footy to create opportunities. In the past six weeks alone, the Titans have averaged over 6 line breaks per game in games where they lost the possession battle. For comparison, the Knights have only hit 6 line breaks in a game once in the last 10 weeks, and they needed 58% possession to do it. For the Titans, possession is less important for their offense than for their defense – in the 8 games in which they’ve lost the possession battle, the Titans have conceded 5 or more tries in 6 of them. On one hand, this is very bad. But on the other, the two exceptions – against the Bulldogs and Broncos – were against the offenses ranked last and 3rd-last in the NRL. And where do the Knights rank so far? 2nd-last. In summary, if the Titans can win the possession battle, they will almost certainly win the game. And if they don’t, it’ll be harder – but their offense might be good enough to get them home, anyway.
- The Raiders/Warriors clash is similarly tricky, with both sides projected dead equal, and both having butchered golden opportunities to make the Top 8 last weekend. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know how fond we are of the Warriors, and our view that they’re consistently undervalued by the bookies. Both remain true, and at $2.75, it’s hard to see New Zealand as anything other than a terrific value play once again. But, you’ll also know how little we think of Sean O’Sullivan, who’s earned a recall this week (we use the word “earned” extremely loosely in this context) following the loss of Chanel Harris-Tevita (why on earth Kodi Nikorima wouldn’t immediately reclaim his old #6 jersey, we have no idea; but we digress). However much we may love Reece Walsh and his Kiwi counterparts, we can’t ignore the fact that a halves pairing of O’Sullivan and Chad Townsend is about as exciting as a high school maths textbook. The pair have combined for just 18 try assists, 12 line break assists and 2 line breaks from 25 combined starts (Nikorima alone, meanwhile, has 14, 17 and 7 from just 20 starts, but whatever). This isn’t just a problem because the pair don’t produce many points; it’s a problem because it makes the Warriors more predictable, and consequently has the effect of blunting Walsh’s effectiveness. Since Walsh and CHT first played together in Round 9, Walsh has played 7 games with CHT and 5 without. In the games with CHT as a foil, the Warriors have a LBVOA of 9.44%, with Walsh personally providing 7 try assists. Without CHT, their LBVOA drops to -10.65%, with Walsh generating just 1 try assist. This effect is why Nathan Brown needs to play Nikorima at five-eighth – not because we necessarily think he’ll rip the Raiders apart, but rather because he provides a genuine threat to (and as such, demands a level of defensive attention that O’Sullivan simply… doesn’t). Assuming the teams run out as named, this is enough to have us leaning towards Canberra – they’re stout enough defensively to handle a one-dimensional attacking unit, and have a more well-balanced (if bland) spread of attacking weapons. We’re also quite pleased to see Ricky Stuart finally drop Sam Williams in favour of Matt Frawley (who says a persistent online campaign against a particular player can’t work?!?). In the end, we expect both sides to score 3-4 tries, and the game very well may be decided by goal kicking. After sitting through Walsh’s 1 from 5 last weekend that puts us right off the Warriors, but you should probably be aware that Jordan Rapana is no sharp-shooter himself. Taking the Raiders, with the Warriors to cover the +6.5 is probably the safest way to play this game.
- Still haunted by the Rabbitohs’ 60-8 thrashing last year, we weren’t inclined to give much thought to tipping the Roosters this weekend, but on closer inspection, they may be a better shot than we initially gave them credit for. While the further losses of Adam Keighran and Dale Copley are off-putting, they actually don’t represent any greater loss than the original losses of the Morris brothers – that is, while the Morrises, Keighran, Copley, Matt Ikuvalu, Billy Smith and Joseph Suaalii look like an insurmountable injury toll, in practice, they represent just 2 spots in the Roosters’ top 13 – centre and wing. If the Morrises were healthy and available, the remaining five likely wouldn’t be in the team at all (at best, Keighran would probably land a bench spot). So, the rest of their backline still looks as deadly as ever, and frankly, we’re not sure the next men up will be a huge drop-off anyway. The big test will obviously be in defense, but Lachlan Lam has shown to be a plenty capable edge defender so far in his career, and in any event, will likely be defending on the Roosters’ left edge, where the Rabbitohs are less likely to direct traffic. On the right – where the Roosters will need to defend Cody Walker et al – it’ll be Joey Manu and Brad Abbey (if that name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because he once played 13 games for the Raiders and Bulldogs, most recently in 2018). Most critical to defending Souths, though, is to control the ruck and deny the Bunnies the chance to attack a retreating defensive line. In this respect, the Roosters should be well-equipped – their forward pack is near enough to full-strength (they remain without Angus Crichton and Lindsay Collins from their starters) and they rank 5th in the league for RMCVOA. In 3 games against Melbourne and Penrith (who are the benchmarks for ruck dominance), the Rabbits were outgained by over 1700m combined, and scored just 4 total tries. We’re not saying that the Roosters will win the battle up the middle, but we’d argue that they are good enough, and if they do, they can put themselves in with a big shot to be competitive. Because as ridiculous as Souths recent line break numbers have been, the Roosters have been right behind them (indeed, these sides rank 3rd and 4th in the NRL for LBVOA, respectively). Nobody’s noticed, because they haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard in the same way Souths have, but their numbers have nonetheless been decent. We’re sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that over the past 7 weeks, Souths have a LBVOA of 63.22% and a TBVOA of 4.14% (incredible, no doubt). But you may be shocked to hear that over the same period, the Roosters are at 50.79% and 27.58% respectively. Impressive, no? In short, though we agree that the Bunnies are slightly better and have a clear edge in bench quality (in large part due to the Roosters aforementioned injuries), we fancy the Roosters are better than they get credit for, and better than their current $4 price. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if this winds up being a belter.
- On Saturday arvo we’ll see the Dragons put their 6-week losing streak on the line against the Cowboys, who’ll come wielding a 10-game losing streak of their own. There’s a reasonable argument for picking either team here. In the case of the Dragons, you could say that while both sides bring their own unique brand of attacking ineptitude, the Dragons have at least demonstrated a degree of defensive competence from time-to-time (though admittedly, not with a great deal of consistency). North Queensland, in contrast, have shown themselves to be completely incapable of defending their own line for any length of time, and as a result, invariably end up conceding big totals, regardless of how well they may be playing otherwise (they’ve conceded 20+ points in 20 of their 22 matches). If you wanted to argue in favour of the Cows though, you could point to this week’s side being as good as just about any that they’ve fielded this year – Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt and Murray Taulagi are all in, joining recent returnees Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Valentine Holmes. However, before you get too excited by the team list, it’s worth noting that they’ve had strong-looking squads at various other points in the season, and do you know how many times they’ve produced an above-average LBVOA? 6 (the Dragons, meanwhile, have somehow managed it 9 times). Should this turn out to be one of their better days, they very well might have a few points in them; but the higher-percentage play is probably to just assume that they’re “off” (again); and regardless, with their defense (or lack thereof) it’d take a pretty big score to get them home.
- Last weekend we tipped Matt Moylan to have a big day out against the Tigpies, and his contribution of 1 line break and 1 try assist from just 19 minutes quickly reminded the world that the lad can still play. However, the real story of the day for the Sharks was the coming out party for Braydon Trindall, who turned in an outrageous 4 try assists and 4 line break assists on the day. Sure, we have to acknowledge that it was against Wests, but still – the bloke had just 6 and 8 respectively from 15 prior starts this season. This was the first time we’ve seen Trindall really take a game by the horns, and if nothing else, he’s shown that he has what it takes to rip a mediocre defensive side apart. By the end of the game, the Sharks had produced their highest LBVOA of any game this season – including those with Shaun Johnson at halfback – and placed a foot back into the Top 8. That Top 8 spot is not without consequence here, as it gives the Sharkies something significant to play for, while the Broncos are just passing the time until Mad Monday. Don’t be fooled by the Broncs’ lucky win last weekend – they were outscored for tries 5 to 4, and saw their LBVOA decline for the 3rd consecutive week since losing Kotoni Staggs to injury (their LBVOA of -40.55% was the lowest they’ve recorded since being shut-out by Souths in Round 15). While the Broncos are in decline, the Sharks numbers actually appear to be building, and had their recent brace of 2-point losses gone the other way, they’d have won 9 of their past 12, and the narrative around this team would be significantly different. So, while both sides defenses are similarly mediocre, we fancy the Sharks’ offense is better than they’re getting credit for, and having the ability to parachute Moylan in at any moment has us giving them the nod here.
- From here, the final three games look like absolute massacres. We’ve gone into some detail in recent weeks about how much the Eels offense troubles elite defenses, so we won’t go into it again (HINT: they don’t), but of greater concern should be their recent defensive issues. After leaking an embarrassing 34 line breaks in three weeks (not a typo), they came out last weekend and gave up another 5 to the 5th-worst offense in the NRL. This may look like an improvement, but the Storm‘s offense is much closer in quality to the preceding three teams than it is to the Cows (in fact, they’re even better). This week Melbourne will have Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith and Justin Olam returning, and have scored 20+ in every game within their current 19-game winning streak. We doubt if Parra can score more than 10, and we doubt that Melbourne score less than 40. Parra are about to get flogged (again).
- Likewise, Sunday arvo will see Tom Trbojevic return to a Sea Eagles side that barely snuck home against Canberra, and in so doing, he transforms Manly’s offense from “OK” to “men against boys”. It feels like a cruel joke that Manly are returning close to full strength in the same week that they face the worst team in the NRL, who have just lost an entire forward pack’s worth of talent (Luke Thompson, Ryan James, Adam Elliott, Corey Horsburgh and Corey Waddell are all out from last week’s side), but here we are. The most bizarre part is that we’ve actually seen this before – in Round 16, Manly got a crack at the Bulldogs while they had half of their team rubbed out due to COVID violations. If you’re wondering how that played out, Manly won. 66-0.
- And finally, we get to see the Panthers unleashing Hell on the Tigers. We suppose it’s possible that Penrith have chosen to name a full-strength squad here in order to give their recent returnees a bit of match fitness, but we can’t help feeling that they really just feel like flexing on the Tigpies after Wests rolled their reserve grade unit back in Round 13. There’s no love lost between these two sides, and to be fair, despite comfortably handling South Sydney last week, we still think the Panthers’ offense has room to improve. The Tigers showed last weekend that their defense can really play a team into form, so it actually makes sense for Penrith to tune up by putting the wringers through their local rivals. We doubt the Tigers will trouble the Pennies’ defense even a little bit, and we think Penrith will be disappointed if they don’t win by 30+.