NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 16, 2017

Round 14 was great with each game was more exciting than the last, except for the first one and the last one and there was only four games. Round 15 is ahead with some tricky fixtures: 1st vs 2nd, 3rd vs 5th, 11th vs 12th and the always celebrated 14th vs 16th. There’s also an Origin game where New South Wales are going to try to stitch up their first series in a few years.

Origin

qld-sm Queensland (58-2-49) @ nsw-sm New South Wales (49-2-58)

The core issue the Maroons faced in the last game is that they were roughly as effective as the Belgian border at stopping the Germans, which is the Blues forward pack in this poor choice of an analogy.

The Blues’ forwards were so good that they didn’t even bother selecting Paul Vaughan in what I assume is an example of classic anti-Italian bias in the NSWRL selectors panel (Germans again). Andrew Fifita, meanwhile, continues to weigh a, literally, solid 15kg over any of the Queensland forwards. While the Storm contained him fairly well when they played the Sharks recently, Origin seems to get him pretty fired up and the physics of momentum is his friend.

The Queensland selection changes seemed to be made due to public and media pressure. If you believed Slater was good enough for game 2, why not pick him for game 1? It’s not like Darius Boyd was the weak point in the team. Adding Valentine Holmes, yet another fullback, feels like someone has not analysed the issues correctly in a panic to be seen to be fixing the problem.

While I’m tipping NSW, I do hope that everyone that wrote the Queensland dynasty’s obituary before the second game was stitched up are shown up in a hilariously embarrassing way.

Continue reading “NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 16, 2017”

Club Report – North Queensland Cowboys

nqc-lgBackground

We tend to think of the North Queensland Cowboys as an indisputable top team but in doing this, we forget just how crap they were when they first started out in 1995. The Cowboys joined the ARL as an expansion team at the same time as the Warriors, South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds. Only two of those teams survive today and it was tricky going as the Cowboys established themselves and searched for acceptance in the early days. Eventually, North Queensland built a following in regional Queensland, particularly around their home in Townsville, and their rivalry with the intrastate Brisbane Broncos is one of the most fiercely contested in the NRL.

Since superstar halfback Johnathan Thurston has came to the helm, the Cowboys have strung together a series of finals appearances as good as any team in the league, featuring every year since 2011. Their zenith was reached in 2015 when North Queensland won their first premiership, twenty years after their founding, beating the Broncos in golden point.

Continue reading “Club Report – North Queensland Cowboys”

NRL Tips – Round 15, 2017

After an intriguing round 14, we dive into round 15. It’s one of those lovely short rounds that allows me to get on with my life outside of NRL hashtags. I have stuff to do, you know.

Draw

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast (4-9) @ souths-sm South Sydney (4-9)

The Gold Coast are a chance here. South Sydney have been playing like ANZ has myxomatosis. The Bunnies are yet to win a game at home, which would be unfathomable if we were talking about literally any other franchise. Even Newcastle manages to give the home fans something to cheer about occasionally.

Meanwhile, Jarrod Wallace put in the greatest attempt at the Bart Simpson defence in denying he shoulder charged Blake Ayshford in the game against the Warriors last week. This was the high point of a procedural approach by the Warriors that cooked the Titans in fifty minutes. Hopefully Neil Henry has them doing some cardio this week. The Titans showed a level of fitness I expect from normal people, not professional athletes. So far this year, the Titans are either proof that everyone has a lucky day or two or that the best have off-days but they’ve not exhibited any signs of getting on top of their flaws as a team.

Continue reading “NRL Tips – Round 15, 2017”

NRL Tips – Round 14, 2017

I think if the NRL could arrange for most rounds to play out per the form guide as round 13 did, then my experimentation with Elo models and rugby league would be far less embarrassing. It’s less Nostradamus and more John Edwards. Yes, I’m a greasy, shifty fraud who bilks people out of their money despite the fact that you get to read this for free because you Googled the right words and flicked through enough results to land on this smart sounding site. Psychic right?

“Success”

I was hoping a 5 from 7 level of success would be typical this year but it hasn’t been. In fact, this was a rather good round for all concerned. The jury has managed to eclipse the 60% margin I thought we would all be past by now but Euclid is still struggling to break even.

After round 13:

rd14-2017-correct tips

Draw

We’re on for our first full round since all of three weeks ago. There’s something for everyone, not least because all the teams have decided to earn their paychecks by playing. Even for the neutrals – assuming they exist in this sport, in which case they should just pick a team and get on with it – there’s plenty of even match-ups anticipated. That makes it incredibly difficult to tip but being incredibly wrong before hasn’t stopped me.

Continue reading “NRL Tips – Round 14, 2017”

Club Report – New Zealand Warriors

war-lgBackground

The Auckland Warriors, as they were originally known, were introduced to the competition in 1996, the first expansion team from outside of Australia.

In the heady days of Stacey Jones’ leadership, the team became contenders, winning a minor premiership in 2002 and only falling at the last hurdle in the grand final to the Sydney Roosters. The team would be deep into the finals again in 2003 before being eliminated in the preliminary final by eventual premiers Penrith.

The Warriors went through a period of re-building after Jones left the club in 2005, culminating in another grand final appearance in 2011 under coach Ivan Cleary. While NZ would ultimately lose out to Manly, the Warriors have since maintained a level of adequacy that is neither inspiring nor depressing. The team is struggling to make an impact this year and has faced an unfair call to be dropped from the competition despite never having copped a wooden spoon.

Continue reading “Club Report – New Zealand Warriors”

NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 13, 2017

I paid the price for my arrogance. I figured that the Raiders and the Warriors were done, dusted, spent forces that would not be able to stand up to even a weakened Roosters or Broncos outfit. They managed it and came home comfortable winners to boot. Scoring just one from four was not a pleasant experience and not one I intend to repeat. At least the rating systems had an excuse – there was nowhere to put the information that Origin is upon us – but for me, only failure.

“Success”

As suggested, not a great round. No one got above 1 in 4 except good old Eratosthenes, who correctly tipped Canberra over Easts, so there hasn’t been much movement since last week. So far this year listening to the two “form” Elo rating systems would have been less effective than listening to a coin.

After round 12:

rd13-2017-correct tips.PNG

Origin

nsw-sm New South Wales (48-2-58) @ qld-sm Queensland (58-2-48)

It’s the first of the three big games that keeps rugby league relevant in this country. The opening round of State of Origin will be played at Suncorp in Brisbane in front of a not-quite-capacity crowd thanks to a dipshit ticket pricing structure. It’s the showpiece of the entire sport so if you did run rugby league, you would want to ignore the fact that it didn’t sell out in five minutes in one of your most important markets. It’s called “giving the people what they want at a price just above what they can afford”. Look it up.

Continue reading “NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 13, 2017”

Club Report – Manly Sea Eagles

man-lgBackground

After an ARL premiership in 1996, Manly entered the NRL in a slightly awkward position. The Sea Eagles took up the NRL’s offer to merge with local rivals North Sydney, forming the Northern Eagles. On-field performances were terrible and in 2003, it was apparent that the marriage was dysfunctional. The venture got a divorce – the Bears never returned to first grade while the Sea Eagles have stuck it out since.

Since the divorce, Manly have been one of the strongest teams in the competition with an unbroken run of finals appearances from 2005 to 2014. Only the salary cap-breaching Melbourne were better and there’s a solid argument that the two runners-up “honours” held by the Sea Eagles could perhaps have been premierships. The last couple of years have not been up to standard but after a patchy start, this year sees them as genuine finals contenders again.

Continue reading “Club Report – Manly Sea Eagles”