2021 Season Results:
Head-to-Head Tipping: 25/32 (78%) (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%
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- You could be forgiven for assuming that the Broncos offense struggled mightily against Melbourne last week, and in many respects they did (any time a team is held to just 6 points, it’s not exactly a good day out). But looking beyond the box score, we continue to see positive signs for Brisbane. With another 3 line breaks (achieved on just a 43% possession share), Brisbane average north of 5 per game – a decent accomplishment considering the fact that they’ve faced 2 of the league’s Top 4 defenses during the opening month. Their yardage is solid (3rd best RMVOA in the comp) and their discipline has steadily improved over the past three weeks, culminating in a decent 8-error performance against the Storm. Should they continue to develop, they’re well placed to score 2-to-3 tries against the Rabbitohs – a number that probably still won’t be good enough to win, but should definitely be good enough to make it tough for the Bunnies to beat the spread (-20.5 at time of writing). Though their defense isn’t the worst in the league, it’s been getting repeatedly shredded, with the Broncos conceding 4+ tries against every opponent they’ve faced besides the terminally hopeless Canterbury. What’s unusual about the Broncos though, is that for a defense that’s getting consistently gashed, they don’t have a single glaring weakness. While teams have been able to indulge themselves on Manly’s right edge, for example, or by targeting Canterbury’s Will Hopoate, the Broncos’ lapses have been extremely evenly spread, with some 15 players having conceded at least 1 line break, yet only 2 having conceded more than 2. So if no single player is getting taken advantage of, where are all these tries coming from? The answer is a combination of two things, that are somewhat interrelated. The first problem the Broncos have is an inability to stop opposition run metres. They have the league’s worst RMCVOA (6.98%), the result of a typically placid defensive line. Against the Storm, the first two tries were the direct result of allowing Melbourne to roll downfield with quick play-the-balls, placing individual defenders at a disadvantage (why exactly Patrick Carrigan would allow Justin Olam 15 metres to build up a head of steam is a mystery). With all these extra yards, the Broncos then find themselves on the losing end of the field position battle more often than not – a factor contributing to Melbourne’s third try. Compounding their problems is Brisbane’s inability to wrap the ball up in tackles. They’ve conceded the most offloads of any team in the league so far (52), forcing them to do more work defensively, leading to greater fatigue, and contributing to a slower line speed and more ineffective tackles. Wash, rinse, repeat. This particular combination is absolutely begging for Damien Cook to take advantage of, and we’re expecting him to have a strong showing as Brisbane start wearing down. Brisbane are building, and we give them a better shot than most this week, but they need to show a bit more enthusiasm on D to amke their next step up.
- Coming into the season, Warriors fans might have been content to come away from the opening four weeks with 2 wins. But as good as those results may have been, their recent defensive form is a bit alarming. After turning in back-to-back stellar defensive efforts to open the season, the Warriors have slipped back into their bad old ways. After posting an impressive LBCVOA of -30.52% in the first two weeks (2nd best in the league), they’ve since come crashing back to earth with a pathetic 26.67% (3rd worst) over the last two. And that’s taking into account the high quality of opponent they’ve been facing – in absolute terms it’s even worse. After conceding 7 line breaks combined across the opening fortnight, they’ve been averaging 7.5 per game since. Their missed tackles have jumped by over 50%. They honestly look like a different football team. Which is great news for a Sea Eagles side struggling for any sort of offensive traction. Manly are yet to score more than 12 points in a game this year, but the way that the Warriors are currently defending, this shapes as as good a chance as ever. But let’s say the Sea Eagles manage to bag a few tries – there’s still the little problem of their D. Manly’s entire right edge is horrific, with Jason Saab, Moses Suli and Daly Cherry-Evans all among the league’s bottom 6 players in line breaks conceded (though Suli is absent here, in what may be a blessing in disguise). Saab in particular has been driving Eagles fans batty, ranking worst in the league for tackle efficiency (32%), tries conceded (10) and line breaks conceded (12). Until Des Hasler does something to get Saab out of the team, we simply can’t get on board with picking Manly, no matter how ordinary the Warriors might be looking. Hopefully once Tom Trbojevic returns, Dylan Walker can slide into the centres and maybe Brad Parker can bump Saab to the curb. In the meantime, Ken Maumalo seems like a reasonable anytime try-scorer option.
- It should have come as no surprise to see the Raiders return to the winner’s circle against the Titans – it was only injury misfortune that cost them against the Warriors, after all. Canberra play a disciplined, high-percentage style of football (they’ve made the fewest offloads in the league so far) and rarely beat themselves. They’ve looked extremely good so far while putting away mediocre opposition, but the Panthers are a completely different beast to anything Canberra have seen so far. In Penrith, Canberra will be facing a side who’ve run for over 1600m in 3 of their 4 outings this season, and busted at least 38 tackles in every game – including against Melbourne. Against Manly, the Panthers flashed another string in their bow – a willingness to try their hand at second-phase play. The Panthers made a whopping 18 offloads against Manly, while keeping their error count to just 8. This is noteworthy, as the Raiders sole defensive blemish this season – conceding 10 line breaks and 6 tries to the Warriors while reduced to a one-man bench – came while conceding a season-high 19 offloads. If the key to disrupting Canberra is indeed playing an offload-happy brand of football, we now know that the Panthers are capable of it. Even better, they have the option of shifting Charlie Staines to fullback for extended periods during the match. Staines played at the back for all of about 5 minutes against Manly, and instantly lifted the Panthers’ offense up a gear, setting up a try and almost springing Nathan Cleary for another. The last time these sides met, the Panthers dismantled Canberra with a 24-0 first half, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar result here.
- Popular opinion seems to be that without Mitchell Pearce, the Knights’ season is just about done before it really began. Ok, so they’ve lost Mitch Pearce and Tex Hoy. But they’re also welcoming back Kalyn Ponga and Blake Green to a side that won both their opening games. Sure, Pearce is a fine player, but we’d argue Ponga is more vital to the Knights’ fortunes. After switching out their half and fullback, the only other additional losses here are Kurt Mann and Jacob Saifiti – guys who are decent enough, but hardly move the needle. They’re probably not better than the Titans when the Gold Coast are playing their best, but they’re certainly good enough to capitalise if they don’t – and the Titans have been one of the real Jekyll-and-Hyde sides of 2021. In Weeks 2 & 3, the Titans were unbelievable in demolishing the Broncos and Cowboys, posting 72 points in two weeks. In the other two games though, they’ve combined for just 10. The most frustrating part of it is that for the most part, their wounds have been self-inflicted. The Gold Coast average a woeful 14 errors per game, and in both losses, added a further 11 total penalties per game, to boot. While they’re gifting around 25 extra sets to their opponents they’re giving themselves virtually no chance of competing; but it’s difficult to speculate when exactly the stinkers are going to come. At home against a weakened Newcastle side, we think they’ll turn up; but if they don’t, this Knights group is still plenty good enough to pull their pants down.
- From there, the rest of the round looks fairly predictable. We don’t see any viable path toward winning for the Bulldogs – they’ll be flat out scoring a point against the Storm, and even if they do somehow jag a couple of tries, they’ve got bugger all chance of slowing down Melbourne’s offense. The Dogs are averaging over 30 points conceded per game, and are facing the #3 offense in the league. This should be a cricket score.
- Likewise, we quite fancy the Roosters to do it comfortably against the Sharks. While Cronulla lit the scoreboard up against the lowly Cowboys, their underlying attacking fundamentals are still pretty underwhelming. The Sharkies rank last in LBVOA and 2nd-last in RMVOA, which is generally a dire combination. Without line breaks, Cronulla become heavily dependent on scoring from kicks – a scoring method that itself depends on earning field position. If you can’t create line breaks and you can’t work your way down the other end – as was the case in the 1st half against Canberra and the 2nd half against Parramatta – it’s damn near impossible to score. And believe us, they’ll need to score to keep up with the Roosters. Reports of the Roosters’ deaths were more than a little premature, with Sydney turning in a blistering 32-12 effort against New Zealand, in which they posted their best attacking numbers since Round 1. Young stud Sam Walker was absolutely ridiculous on debut, producing 2 try assists and 4 line break assists – both numbers that surpass the three-week total of one of the men he was replacing, Lachlan Lam. The Roosters’ offense is in safe hands, and we don’t fancy the Sharks have the skillset to trouble Sydney’s D. We’re giving the Roosters a good shot for 13+.
- The Tigers meanwhile, might be the most underrated offense in the league right now. They’ve quietly averaged over 4 line breaks and 16 points per game, while facing the defenses ranked 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th. That sort of productivity should have people starting to take them seriously, but nobody’s noticed because of all the losing. That may be about to change with a run of winnable games against North Queensland, Manly and St George-Illawarra on the horizon. After four weeks of tough sledding against elite defenses they’ll be thrilled to run into the league’s worst defense here, and we can see them blowing the doors off. If Wests get going, we doubt the Cowboys can keep up.
- Finally, we get to two of the real pleasant surprises of 2021, the Eels and the Dragons. We weren’t really believers in Parramatta coming into the season, but through four weeks, their metre-eating has been unlike anything we’ve seen before. The Eels’ RMVOA is an absurd 15.77% – a number so huge that it represents almost an extra 200m compared to the 2nd-best team in the league. They start their sets magnificently with both Clint Gutherson and Maika Sivo averaging over 10m-per-carry, their starting pack keeps their sets rolling with 9m+ from Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Shaun Lane, and their bench rotation then kicks them up a gear with Ray Stone, Oregon Kaufusi and Isaiah Papali’i all going for over 10m a tote. There’s no respite for opposition defenses, and as a result they’ve made over 1400m in every match so far, including against the league’s best run defense (the Storm), in a game where they only had 46% possession! The Dragons certainly try hard, but it’s hard to see them slowing down the Parramatta juggernaut, especially when they’ve conceded over 1400m in every game so far – a group that includes 2 of the bottom 3 teams in RMVOA. We’re expecting Parra to rumble downfield with very little resistance, and that they’ll eventually run up the score through sheer weight of pressure. Again, 13+ is a fair chance.