2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 142/192 (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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- Over the past week, we’ve been subjected to Sea Eagles fans tying themselves in knots trying to come up with reasons why their team is somehow better than the Storm (SPOILER ALERT: they’re not). Allow us to subject you to just a few. MYTH: With Des Hasler holding a superior head-to-head winning percentage against Craig Bellamy, Hasler knows “the secret” to beating Melbourne. REALITY: If Hasler ever did hold a secret to beating the Storm, he misplaced it some time in 2019. Since then, the Storm have won their last 4 straight against Manly, by an average margin of 18.5 (and FYI, Tom Trbojevic was playing in 3 of those). MYTH: Manly’s offense is so irresistibly good, Melbourne won’t be able to keep up. REALITY: We don’t even know where to start with this one. For a start, the Storm have racked up more points than any other team this year, so we’re sure they’re comfortable in any kind of shootout. Secondly, Manly’s offense has yet to show itself as anything other than Parramatta-esque flat-track bullies. There are 6 teams in the NRL with above-average Defense VOA ratings: Penrith, Melbourne, Souths, Sydney and Canberra (in that order). In 7 matches against these defenses the Eagles average just 13 points-per-game. Now, you might argue that Turbo was missing for the first 3 of those. Sure, let’s eliminate those games then – now what does their points-per-game climb to? 17. Against a Storm side who’ve exceeded that total in 21 of 24 matches this year, we doubt that would be enough. We also doubt they’ll get that many. In Manly’s last 6 matches against the Storm, they’ve never exceeded 18 points, in that game (Round 21 this year), one of their tries came via an intercept, meaning that the Sea Eagles offense hasn’t exceeded 2 tries generated in their past 6 starts against the Storm. Quite frankly, the Storm are so comprehensively better than Manly at every aspect of football, we find the very suggestion that they should be ‘scared’ of the Sea Eagles (or any other nonsense) so staggeringly stupid as to be almost inconceivable. It’s not that we’re saying Manly can’t win this game; but rather that whether they win or lose will be determined by how well Melbourne go. If the Storm are on, the Storm are going to win – and there is absolutely nothing that Manly will be able to do about it. However, there is admittedly no guarantee that the Storm will be “on”. The Storm were dreadful in their Round 19 win over North Queensland; they were even worse in their Round 24 loss to Parramatta. That being said, they were also “off” in their Round 21 clash with Manly (in which the Storm recorded their lowest LBVOA of the season) – and they still won that game by 10 points, showing that even if Melbourne aren’t playing to their highest standard, it’s still no guarantee they’ll beat them. To have any success, Manly need to target replacement winger Isaac Lumelume (who has conceded 2 line breaks in as many starts, compared to Josh Addo-Carr’s 8 from 21), and then just hope for Malbourne to wet the bed. Sure, it’s possible, but it doesn’t feel terribly likely.
- You could almost copy-and-paste the above spiel about Manly and apply it to the Titans – they, too, have made a habit of running up monster scores against NRL minnows (they’ve scored 30+ in 11 matches this season), but lack any sort of return against the competition’s heavyweights. They ultimately played 11 matches against teams who would finish the season in the Top 8, but only managed to win 1 (against far-and-away the worst team in the finals, Newcastle). To be fair, the Titans’ offense has actually held up better than Manly’s against top sides (they put 30 on Souths, 24 on Manly and even managed 20 against the Storm), but unlike the Eagles, the Titans don’t have a defense capable of supporting their high-octane offense. Yes, they’ve scored 30+ a whole bunch, but they’ve also conceded 30+ almost as often, hitting that mark in 9 of 24 matches. And if you’re sitting there staring at the 2021 schedule and thinking “well, gee – they got within 1 point of beating the Roosters the last time they met”, we might remind you that 18 of the Titans’ 34 points that day came while the Roosters had a player in the sin bin. Prior to that point, the Roosters were winning 30-10. Added to the team Sydney used that day will a few pretty handy players (guys like James Tedesco, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Sam Verrills and Victor Radley, among others), and they additionally bring a wealth of big game experience with them. We’ve been banging the Roosters’ drum all season, and remain of the view that they’re the dark horses of the competition.
- Last week’s game notwithstanding (in which Souths’ NSW Cup somehow got gifted a win by St George-Illawarra, despite turning in a putrid 1 line break effort), the Rabbitohs come into the finals in arguably the best form of any of the competition’s heavyweights. They’ve won 13 of their past 14 matches, and are just two weeks removed from an emphatic 54-12 win over the Roosters (the game otherwise known as ‘Facegate’ – in which Joey Manu’s face came to look like it had repeatedly slammed in a garden gate). This should install a degree of confidence in the Bunnies, were it not one, tiny detail – that one loss came against this week’s opponent, the Panthers. Indeed, the same could have been said about Souths’ form coming into that game – they came in off a 10-game winning streak and were two weeks removed from a 40-12 hammering of Parramatta – yet that night they took a death-by-a-thousand-cuts from the boot of Nathan Cleary, as a clunky-looking Penrith side ground their way to a second 13+ victory over South Sydney this year (the first was a 56-12 humiliation). Comparing the team lists from that clash, the Panthers will be significantly bolstered by the return of rep stars Brian To’o and James Fisher-Harris, while the Rabbitohs find themselves missing their best player, Latrell Mitchell (for his role as the gate-slammer in the Manu incident). Even without including last weekend’s game (in which they were literally without all their good players), the drop-off in Souths’ LBVOA from 48.30% when Mitchell plays (which extrapolated over a full season would place them 1st in the league) to a sans-Latrell average of -16.38% is eye-watering. Worse, is the fact that in both the Rabbitohs’ 13+ defeats at the hands of Penrith, Latrell was playing. Much like Melbourne, who only now are getting to trot out a near full-strength side, this Panthers side looks as good as any they’ve named in months. Their returning players have admittedly looked rusty as they’ve trickled back into the team, but our expectation is that they’re right about to peak at exactly the right time. Given how much better Penrith were compared to Souths already, we’re left feeling pretty confident in the Pennies.
- The final match of the week is a bit of a funny one, in that we’d fancy both sides are thrilled with their drawn opponents. The Eels overtly tanked their way out of the Top 4, and have been rewarded with a game against the worst side in the Top 8. Meanwhile, the Knights – having stumbled their way into 7th spot with a 50% win rate – have been rewarded with a match against far-and-away the worst side in the Top 6. From both sides’ perspective, we’d fancy it doesn’t get any better than this. And yet, somebody still needs to lose. On the surface, the two sides couldn’t have ended the season any more differently, with the Knights final seven matches yielding 5 wins and 2 losses, compared to the Eels’ 5 losses and 2 wins. However, looking under the hood, the two sides really weren’t all that different. They had almost identically dismal LBVOAs (-37.18% for Newcastle vs -38.00% for Parra), which suggests that the Knights’ superior tries-per-game (they scored exactly 1 extra meat pie each week) came more via the comparatively lower quality that Newcastle were facing, rather than any greater enterprise from their attack. Newcastle had the slightly superior RMVOA (-2.44% v -4.06%), but this was more than counter-balanced by Parra’s more impressive RMCVOA (-1.28% v 4.69%). With both sides’ recent form being mirror-images of each other, the question becomes about who’s more likely to improve. If Reagan Campbell-Gillard comes back (he’s been named, but is apparently facing a fitness test) it will make a world of difference to Parramatta’s go-forward, with the Eels RMVOA dropping from 4.18% (2nd in the league) to -5.07% when he’s missing (last). Additionally, we’ve made the point previously that the Eels’ offense has consistently underperformed against elite defenses relative to the quality of the defense. That is, when the Eels are playing top defenses, they play even worse than can be naturally expected due to the higher quality of opponent. With Parramatta having played 6 of their last 7 games against above-average defenses, it should come as no surprise then that their LBVOA has been plummeting through the floor – this isn’t a drop in form, so much as a reflection of how little their offensive structure troubles good defenses. Even when people (mistakenly) thought Parra were good, they were interspersing 40-point drubbings of also-rans with LBVOAs like -39.78% against Melbourne, -64.34% against Sydney, -48.64% against Souths and -68.25% against Penrith. This is bad news for Parramatta when it comes time to play anybody good; but it’s great news this week, because Newcastle’s defense is not. Parramatta already have a 40-4 thumping of the Knights under their belt, and despite their recent success, it’s hard to argue that Newcastle’s defense is significantly improved. The Knights are coming in after conceding 35 points to a Kotoni Staggs-less Brisbane side in a losing effort, and gave up 20+ in their recent wins over the Broncos and Raiders – both sides whose offenses rank lower than that of the Eels. On paper, you have to give the Knights a decent shot – everything about that side looks like it should be an attacking powerhouse. But at some point, you simply have to accept that it just isn’t; and though we all love to have a giggle at the perpetual struggles of Parramatta, they actually do have the runs on the board to suggest they can comfortably handle a side who, frankly, are lucky to still be alive in the competition.