2022 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: 129/190 (68%) (Last Week: 4/8)
2021 Season Results:Head-to-Head Tipping: (74%)
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.)
- Panthers by 14 – With the bizarrely pro-Eels media continuing to push the myth that Parramatta’s haphazard, offload-heavy offense is the secret to ripping through Penrith and Melbourne’s defenses, allow us to provide a counterpoint. If this theory were true, and the Eels’ use of second-phase play was the secret sauce to cutting up these elite Ds, the Eels would have been pumping out line breaks and run metres like nobody’s business, no? But as for what actually happened: setting aside the match against 12 Panthers following Nathan Cleary’s first quarter send-off (since in that instance, the key to generating line breaks was obviously having an extra player), the Eels mustered a LBVOA -5.47% and a RMVOA of 0.34% in the other 3 games – that is to say, their offensive production was at best about league average for teams facing Penrith and Melbourne, and arguably marginally below average. In fact, in the 3 matches against Penrith prior to the infamous Cleary send-off game, this unstructured Eels offense – that supposedly bothers the Panthers so much – mustered just a combined 4 line breaks across all three. Put simply, not only does Parra’s fast-and-loose attacking style not bother the Panthers, but there’s an argument that it’s been among the least successful attacking styles against the Panthers over the last two years. So how have the Eels been able to be competitive? The answer is simple: possession. In both meetings with Penrith this year, and the semi-final last year, the Eels won 53% or more of the footy. This has two effects – first, it gives more opportunities for their disorganised “offense” to create something (which in practive typically ends up meaning more opportunities for attacking kicks); and second, it reduces the attacking opportunities for Penrith, effectively providing additional protection to an otherwise bog average defense. This is great so long as they keep winning possession, but given their reliance on unusually high completion rates (they made single-digit errors in both matches against the Panthers, despite averaging marginally more errors per game than Penrith on the season) and winning the penalty count (they received 2 more penalties than Penrith in both earlier matches, but may be at risk from a home crowd influencing the ref here), it really shouldn’t be assumed that possession will continue to flow their way. And if it doesn’t? Well, the last time they earned less than 50% of the possession, they copped a 26-0 pasting off South Sydney. As it happens, we’re projecting them at about 50% on the nose, which should be more than enough for the Panthers to get it done.
- Storm by 10 – Unlike the aforementioned Parramatta myth, there probably is some degree of truth that the Raiders don’t mind playing Melbourne. In their two earlier meetings this season, the Raiders split them 1-1, while posting 2 of their best 6 LBVOA performances of the season. Importantly, their win came in Melbourne, against what was effectively a full-strength Storm outfit. This should give them reason for optimism heading into this knockout final, but isn’t enough for us to want to back them. As good as Canberra were that afternoon relatively speaking, they were nevertheless still outplayed – being outproduced for line breaks (6 v 4), run metres (1531 v 1408) and tackle busts (36 v 30). The Raiders thoroughly deserved to be competitive, but it’s debatable that they were even the best side on the day. Not only did Melbourne outperform Canberra across most stat categories, they did it despite losing Ryan Papenhuyzen to injury in the first quarter of the match, and while mired in the middle of what would become a 4-match losing streak. The Storm are in much better touch now, and even in losing their last two matches, they were still able to drop 5 line breaks a pop on their opponents. They get Jahrome Hughes back this week, and have a stack of successful finals experience to draw from. Though we agree that Canberra play their best footy against Melbourne, we just don’t think their best footy will be enough.
- Sharks by 4 – And here we come to one of the more genuinely bad matchups for a single team – the Sharks, and their 8-game winning streak against the Cowboys. The mismatch here stems from the Cowboys’ typical struggles to generate line breaks (they rank 9th in the league for LBVOA), running into Cronulla and their line break-generating machine of an offense (1st in the NRL). Admittedly the Cows have dropped plenty of big line break totals over the past month or so, but on closer inspection, we’re not sure how much weight we should be putting into these. They dropped 8 on Penrith’s NSW Cup team last weekend, in addition to putting 9 through the Warriors, 10 on Canterbury, 9 on St George, and 5 past the Tigers. The problem? One was a reserve grade side, and the others are all shit. In the few matches they’ve played against Top 8 sides over the last two months, they’ve lost all 3 (including one against this week’s opponent, Cronulla), while averaging less than 3 line breaks a game. The Sharks, by the way, have only produced less than 3 line breaks in a game once all season, and that came against the league’s best defense, Penrith (and in a game they only lost by 10 points, anyway). If North Queensland are to be competitive here it absolutely needs to come from a huge defensive effort, but their D has a tendency to be extremely volatile – in amongst a collection of superb defensive efforts, they have more than a few clunkers interspersed – and even if they do, will they have the points in them?
- Roosters by 6 – Having last week tipped the Roosters against the same opponent, at the same ground, in a match which they won, it should come as no great surprise that we’re going back to the well here. We remain firmly of the view that the Roosters are the more well-rounded of these sides, backing up a comparably high-octane offense with a Top 5 Defense (whereas the Rabbitohs prefer to back up their red-hot offense with hope and good intentions). However, this still isn’t a gimme. The loss of Joey Manu can’t be understated – while the press would have you believe that Joseph Sualii is the second coming of Dally Messenger, he actually trails Manu for both try involvements and line break involvements, while Manu also ranks 4th in the NRL for offloads, and 1st for tackle busts. For this reason, the return of Sualii and winger Daniel Tupou is unlikely to be enough to counter-balance the loss of Manu – however good the guys coming in may be, there’s no other outside back in the league who produces Manu’s level of impact. And if the Roosters find they can no longer match it with Souths for strike out wide, it becomes crucial that they win through the middle. In this area, it bodes well – they outgained Souths by 176m last weekend, with 4 forwards running for over 100m vs the Rabbitohs’ 3, and they did it with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves watching most of the match from the sideline with ice on his hamstring. If JWH does play (he’s been named, but is under a cloud), he and the returning Victor Radley will effectively be new additions to a pack that already dominated this group a week ago (and Souths have Cameron Murray under something of a cloud, as well). Consequently, we have the Roosters winning the yardage battle, and see the difference in field position balancing out what we expect to be the superior edge play from Souths, and providing the platform for Sydney to squeak out another tight victory.
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