Bulldogs v Rabbits – NRL Free Game Preview

 

NRL Free Game Preview – Round 4 – Bulldogs v Rabbits – 2013

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Individual Game Tips –  17/24  71%

Eagles, Bulldogs, Storm, Sharks, Titans, Knights, Cowboys, Roosters

Game Preview
Bulldogs v Rabbits
Bulldogs Rabbits
RTP Rating -1
H2H Opened $2.00 $1.85
Line Opened -1.5
Head to Head Won 6 of last 7
At Ground Won 9 of last 10 Won 8 of last 10
Home/Away 90% 80%

 

Homebush: 4.00pm Friday

Be aware that both sides play out of Homebush as their home ground and importantly both sides have excellent records here. It is also of note that the Bulldogs have held a healthy H2H advantage through recent years, winning 6 of the last 7. Major key ins for the Bulldogs with Barba and Pritchard returning. While they may be short of a gallop they’ll strengthen the confidence of everyone around them and both have the quality to make an impact straight up. The Bulldogs lifted for the GF rematch in Melbourne last week. They keep making small steps of improvement and at 1/3 and off a loss I think they’ll again aim up and give this a real shake. I also think their ball shift attack to their edges, especially with the return of Barba will trouble the Rabbits but they are still missing the impact of their two big front rowers who remain out. Through the last two weeks the Sharks and Panthers have looked to move the Rabbits around with a lot of deliberate side to side attack and ball movement, obviously looking to run about and tire their bigger men and open up their defence – and with success. The Sharks looked like they could well have done more than they did (line breaks and scoreboard) while the Panthers gave them a fright and clocked up 32 points. The fact that 6 tries were conceded is a major concern for a potential top of the table team. I’m tipping the Bulldogs here off the back of their record in these big matches when it mattered, last year winning 8/13 against top 8 sides and a GF appearance, whereas the Rabbits although in winning form could only win 6/13 against the best sides in the comp (and come off two finals defeats). Looks a great contest, I lean slightly to the Bulldogs but we’ll learn a lot more from the contest.

Tip: Bulldogs

Last Word: Bulldogs have consistently come up and or won the big games through the last 12 months. The Rabbits are yet to convince us that they can. Great contest, slight lean to Bulldogs given their record.

Betting Interest: Close game, no betting play for mine.

 

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NRL Tips, NRL Selections, NRL Previews, NRL Betting

NRL Preview – Round 3 – 2013

 

NRL Preview – Round 3 – 2013
Storm v Bulldogs
Storm Bulldogs
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.22 $4.25
Line Opened -12.5
Head to Head Won 4 of last 5
At Ground Won last 6 straight Lost last 3
Home/Away 79% 75%

 

Melbourne: 8.00pm Thursday

Bellamy and his staff would be giggling at all of the suggestions that due to their UK trip they’d be underdone or suffer jetlag or alike. If ever there was to be a reinforcement of a) the quality of the off season program that they do (I’m regularly told by those in the know it’s one of if not the toughest off season program of any NRL club) and b) the systems and coaching process that they have in place that then delivers the end results that they do, then the last two weeks have provided it. The Storm are up and running, and right now a number of rungs above everyone else. They come off a quality win in Townsville against a legitimate title contender and line up at home for a grand final rematch but such is tempered with the fact of a 5 day turn around off the back of a distant away leg. The Bulldogs defended well in winning over the Eels last week but they are desperately missing their 4 key players who remain out (Kasiano, Graham, Pritchard and Barba). They don’t control the mid field as they normally do nor have the punch forward, Pritchards hit on an edge or the skill and polish of Barba’s classy line break or finishing. Right now there is also not the cohesion. Keatings kicking game needs significant improvement and they could well have had some much better questions asked of their defence by the Eels. Storm back at home should be winning and are priced accordingly but I’d suggest caution playing a 3 try line and expect the normal cohesion with a side off the back of a short turn around, distant away leg and a few days of light training.

Tip: Storm 

Last Word: Right now the Storm look at a different level to everyone else, and they get a significantly weakened opponent at home. 

Betting Interest: I expect the Storm to win but given the circumstances I’m happy to leave the long line alone.

 

Tigers v Eels
Tigers Eels
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.65 $2.25
Line Opened -3.5
Head to Head Won 5 of last 6
At Ground Won 3 of last 6 Lost 4 of last 6
Home/Away 67% 12.5%

 

Leichhardt: 7.00pm Friday

Key forward outs for both sides here – Galloway for the Tigers, Maitua for the Eels. Tigers got the job done last week over the Panthers but the form line through either (Tigers or Panthers) doesn’t look all that strong right now (and they’ve come up with a key up front injury which they don’t need), with both sides contributing poor key stats in an error riddled offering. Although not taken advantage of once again the yardage through the Tigers middle was soft which is I’m sure exactly where Stuart will want to play. The Eels plan and structure in general has improved considerably as has their general kicking game and they are playing off better field position more regularly than they have for some years. However, their final 30 metres attack red zone play needs a lot of work. With some brains and execution they could well have beaten the Bulldogs last week. But with Mannah, Moimoi and Lussick they should be able to work their way forward consistently and offer Sandow, Hayne and Paulo some room to play, I’d expect with greater ease than what the Tigers will. Certainly the home and away records here are factors, the Tigers are very good at Leichhardt (and Cambpelltown) while the Eels away record through the last two years has been abysmal but I’m happy to take that risk here and look to the visitors improvement and enthusiasm to be the difference.

Tip: Eels 

Last Word: The Eels have only been winning near 1 in 10 away through recent years and so are again a significant risk, but there has been some positive signs through the last two weeks that they might have the muscle and yardage answers through the middle here to be winning. 

Betting Interest: Play the Eels H2H at around the $2.25.

 

Titans v Sea Eagles
Titans Sea Eagles
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $2.25 $1.65
Line Opened -3.5
Head to Head Won 3 of last 5
At Ground Won 3 of last 5 Won last 2
Home/Away 42% 61%

 

Robina: 5.30pm Saturday

Nice test for the Titans which will tell us much more about the depth of their form. They come off a soft win over the Raiders where they were gifted a mountain of ball and some pathetic defensive offerings as they waltzed through for 36 unanswered points. They had few questions asked of their own defence – the Eagles will be a far different offering. The test here will be a) how they handle are far more physical opponent who will offer them far less room to move, and b) on the back of this how their 9, 7 and 6 then play, as I’d expect that they will be obvious targets. They do have the advantage of an extended home prep and be buoyed by their positive win last week. Right now the Eagles would be clearly marked as the next best behind the Storm off the back of impressive wins through the Broncos and Knights, they have the size and skill through the middle to dominate the advantage line and then the class of Foran and Cherry-Evans to then capatalise, the skill of their kicking game will also see the Titans have to earn field position. The Eagles have been very good away, and even better through the last 12 months with distant road games winning 6 of their last 7, but there remains some injury doubt over Brett Stewart and Matai. The Titans execution and handling struggled against a committed defence two weeks ago (Sharks), I think that’s again the key to this game where I think the Eagles have too many guns.

Tip: Eagles 

Last Word: Right now the Eagles look a key long term contender, we are yet to be convinced where the Titans stand. 

Betting Interest: I’d wait for the final pre game team lists before any betting play, should the Eagles be at or near full strength then I expect them to be covering the single try line.

 

Roosters v Broncos
Roosters Broncos
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.55 $2.45
Line Opened -4.5
Head to Head Lost 6 of last 8
At Ground Lost 7 of last 9 Won 4 of last 6
Home/Away 38% 43%

 

SFS: 7.30pm Saturday

The Broncos remain of the road with back to back Sydney away legs and are now to be without key outs of Hodges and McGuire. They carry the advantage of a healthy recent H2H and ‘at ground’ record but right now they look a long way off quality form. Hodges is a key out. He is a class game breaker who has arguably been their best through the last two weeks and whose absence weakens their attack strike power considerably. The Broncos defence was sound last week but let’s put it in context – the Dragons currently can’t buy execution let alone points so although getting through the work well enough there were few questions of quality put to them. The Roosters won what has been a difficult away leg for them for some time (Warriors in NZ) and again showed some positive signs through the first 50 or so minutes (including a 16-0 lead) but again two weeks in a row they have failed to run out a strong final 30 minutes. They do have plenty of size and grunt through the middle (Waerea-Hargreaves, Moa, Nuuausala and Kennedy) through which I’m sure they will look to play and I expect to trouble the Broncos, I also think they’ll target plenty of attack via their favoured left edge (SBW and Jennings) especially now against a weakened Broncos right edge offering missing Hodges. I am seeing upside and improvement in the Roosters through the last two weeks, I’m not so sure about the Broncos (nor a weakened Broncos facing another away leg), look for the Roosters to work them over through the middle then play with some speed and ball play to their edges (in particular to their left).

Tip: Roosters 

Last Word: Home side improving each week, expect then to take a further positive step here. 

Betting Interest: Roosters to cover the line.

 

Sharks v Warriors
Sharks Warriors
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.43 $2.85
Line Opened -7.5
Head to Head Won 3 of last 6
At Ground Won 3 of last 7 Lost 5 of last 7
Home/Away 62% 21%

 

Cronulla: 2.00pm Sunday

Lewis a key out for the Sharks but they do look to have stronger depth this year. If the Sharks are anywhere near 70% of their best then they will be winning this, the problem right now as we know is guessing from week to week how they might be faring under the weight of the current ASADA investigations. They showed a preparedness to ball play and or shift the ball to their edges and then return last week against Souths which worked well for them, quickly moving their opponents defence around, opening yardage and defensive holes and playing to their attacking strengths off Carney, Gordon and Graham. A similar approach here would have the Warriors spinning like a top as they do not have the defensive smarts nor structures to handle such a game. I think the final scoreboard flattered the Warriors last week. At 16-0 it could have and probably should have led to another blow out loss. Having saved a little face last week I would not be surprised to see them again drop their guard. The signs are there that the Sharks are committed and working as hard as they can against some very difficult circumstance right now, far more than any of the signs coming out of the Warriors. They get their chance here back at home and should be winning.

Tip: Sharks 

Last Word: Sharks have been rolling their sleeves up, with a similar commitment then they’ll be winning here. 

Betting Interest: I don’t like the Warriors at all, but I also don’t think the Sharks are a betting proposition at present.

 

Panthers v Rabbits
Panthers Rabbits
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $4.50 $1.20
Line Opened -12.5
Head to Head Won 3 of last 6
At Ground Won 3 of last 4 Lost 7 of last 8
Home/Away 39% 50%

 

Penrith: 3.00pm Sunday

Well the market gives you a clear lead as to what looks on offer here. The Panthers have a key out in losing Coote for what looks like the season which will disrupt and weaken their halves combination and blunted their key attacking options. Clearly the market is suggesting that the Panthers formline looks very questionable (Raiders, Tigers) against which I can’t argue. Those games were each of ordinary quality reflected in the poor handling, completions and defensive errors. Interestingly the Rabbits have had a very poor record at this ground, having lost 7 straight prior to their win here last year, they come off a win last Monday night and have the key in of Sam Burgess who’s presence and play will lift them significantly. For mine they bombed 4 opportunities on their left edge against the Sharks and should well have recorded a far more comfortable victory, I’d expect that coach Maguire will make some further adjustments to the attack combinations on their left and be somewhat forceful about the improvement he’d be looking for here. Realistically we have a top 4 contender playing a weakened bottom 4 side, evened up slightly by the venue.

Tip: Rabbits 

Last Word: Rabbits will win, the margin is the question. 

Betting Interest: I expect the Rabbits to cover the line.

 

Raiders v Dragons
Raiders Dragons
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.70 $2.15
Line Opened -3.5
Head to Head Won 13 of last 14
At Ground Won last 4 Lost last 10 straight
Home/Away 54% 21%

 

Canberra: 6.30pm Sunday

We have two season to date losers facing up against each other. After two weeks away the Raiders will welcome their first formal home game, and given their poor form what better than that of playing the side who has been your “bunny” for years. The lopsided advantage that the Raiders have held over the Dragons is quite amazing, they’ve won 13 of their last 14 H2H while the Dragons have lost their last 10 straight games in Canberra, now that’s what we might call “owning” someone. The Raiders were ordinary first up against the Panthers, then disgraceful against the Titans, all of which smells of attitude issues, we’d be only guessing if we thought any sort of shake up this week and or the fact of playing at home might well help them. The Dragons have their own problems, they had enough ball and field position to win 2 games last week, their line break and attack options are terrible, they too have a terrible away record (3 wins from their last 14 away starts) let alone the record of playing against the Raiders or at this ground. At least with the Raiders one knows that they do have upside in them, I’m not sure that the same can be said about the Dragons. Going with the home side on trust.

Tip: Raiders 

Last Word: Raiders have ‘owned’ the Dragons H2H for some time, and in particular at this Ground. 

Betting Interest: No, two losers H2H is not a place to play.

 

Knights v Cowboys
Knights Cowboys
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.90 $1.90
Line Opened -1.5
Head to Head Lost 3 of last 4
At Ground Won 4 of last 6 Won last 2 (4 from7)
Home/Away 46% 60%

 

Newcastle: 7.00pm Monday

Somewhat a rollercoaster ride through the opening two weeks for both sides, credible in not impressive wins first up followed by disappointing (Cowboys) if not very poor (Knights) results in round 2. The Knights also looked to have picked up a few key injuries which won’t help them short term, in particular with the loss of Gagai. The Knights problem through the last 12 months has been measuring up when it mattered against the contenders of the competition, especially when away, again shown up when trampled at Brookvale last Monday night. They will improve back at home but they’ll need to improve how they handle things through the middle considerable if they are to compete here. The Cowboys weren’t that far off the Storm for good periods of that game last week, they also made numerous line breaks and off loads and had at least 4 near try scoring opportunities, most of which was not reflected on the scoreboard, so the quality of what they were offering was ok, and thorough an impressive formline. Much like the Eagles they will come at the Knights with size and power through the middle, while I’m sure Thurston will also look to target the Knights right edge defence which has looked decidedly suspect through periods of the last two weeks (and from which they now lose Gagai). Cowboys road record has been very good, they’ve also won 7 of their last 13 distant games and their last two at the ground, I think they’ll win here.

Tip: Cowboys 

Last Word: The Storm formline will be strong, Cowboys weren’t that far away last week and can bounce back here. 

Betting Interest: Cowboys H2H

 

Individual Game Tips

Storm, Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Sharks, Rabbits, Raiders, Cowboys

Interests

I won’t be firing a serious bullet till round 4 or 5 but for those looking for an interest this week I’d suggest these –

–          Eels – H2H, get their chance to break through on the road

–          Roosters – Line -4.5, at home, weakened opponent

–          Rabbits – to cover the line v Panthers

–          Cowboys – H2H, like the formline, will be keen to atone

RTP Ratings

An exclusive individual team rating will be introduced from Round 4 onwards, updated for each team and game circumstance each week. The disclosed form of the opening rounds plus a range of historical and week to week factors will be used to determine and update weekly each allocated rating. All 16 individual team game ratings are updated each week and then published in each new weekly preview.

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NRL Tips, NRL Selections, NRL Previews, NRL Betting

NRL Preview – Round 2 – 2013

 

NRL Preview – Round 2 – 2013
Eels v Bulldogs
Eels Bulldogs
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $2.25 $1.65
Line Opened -2.5
Head to Head Lost last 4
At Ground Lost last 10 straight Won 10 of last 11
Home/Away 13% Away record 73% Home record

 

Homebush: 8.00pm Thursday

Eels lose Kelly at 6, Bulldogs look unchanged with Low likely to again play 1. The Eels looked good last week, but I’d just temper any excitement for them until we see what they offer through the grind of week in week out footy, and more importantly up against a few top of table sides as opposed to the rubbish that the Warriors served up last week. The Eels were able to play at will with soft yardage, easy line breaks and little of note played back at them. They will grow in confidence from that but lets review through the coming weeks. Certainly there were the obvious positives of Sandow looking far fitter and prepared to play direct and run the ball; Hayne with any sort of room is always going to be dangerous and he is certainly their “game breaker” while Maitua and Ryan also played well. A further key issue here is that that winning form was at Parra Stadium (where the majority of their winning form through recent years has been) while this “home game” has been moved to Homebush (the Bulldogs home venue) where the Eels have a shocking record having lost their last 10 here on the back of an equally terrible away record. I didn’t think the Bulldogs were that far away last week against the Cowboys. Their attack was well drilled with the same preparedness to play off the back of a go forward offload; they still have class and speed to finish with and while not in Barba’s class Low can fill the roving attack role from the back suitably. The Cowboys are a likely top 4 contender this year and although beaten that’s a handy form line for the Bulldogs to have come through. They’ll improve further back at Homebush and Hasler doesn’t often lose two in a row. I think we’ll look back in weeks to come and confirm that any form line through the Warriors has a bad smell about it.

Tip: Bulldogs

Last Word: Homebush a huge advantage for the “away” side. They’ll improve and I expect to be a much different opponent to what the Eels faced last week. Keen on the Bulldogs.

NRL Betting Interest: Happy to play the Bulldogs through the H2H and or the short line.

 

Dragons v Broncos
Dragons Broncos
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $2.15 $1.70
Line Opened -2.5
Head to Head Lost 6 of last 7
At Ground Won 6 of last 8 Lost 3 of last 4
Home/Away 73% 38%

 

Wollongong: 7.00pm Friday

Tricky game for mine. Dragons as expected struggled in Melbourne and were comfortably beaten franking their poor away record. Granted that they were playing against one of the best defensive structures in the comp but their attack (like last year) again looked well short of options and importantly points with just the one line break and one of their two tries coming from an intercept. The game was also played in draining 34 degree heat from which the Dragons now only have a short 5 day turnaround! They will welcome at return to home base (Wollongong) but gee they look to still have a lot to change to be any different than the disappointing team of 2012 (in particular in attack). For mine the Broncos were also very disappointing first up and had I any inkling of what I saw last Friday night I’d have put a line through them as a semi final contender. They have no domination nor size across their forward list. They now lack anyone with grunt and authority to dominate the middle as a Petro or Webcke have done so in years past. Thaiday is now being asked to play in the middle as opposed to his past strength as a ball running right edge player. Worse still, they have no creativity – more a reliance of pieces of individual brilliance (Hodges) off which to play. Like any of the form through week one we need to wait and balance any views after 4 or 5 weeks but off the back of a rocket from their coach through recent days the Broncos do have a hell of a lot of improvement to make. As suggested, a tricky game. Dragons improve markedly at home but come off a energy sapping distant road trip and short turnaround; the Broncos off a very “vanilla” first up performance. I lean to the Broncos having greater improvement.

Tip: Broncos

Last Word: Both sides have much to do, off improvement the Broncos look like they have more points in them.

NRL Betting Interest: Not a betting game for mine.

 

Warriors v Roosters
Warriors Roosters
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $2.10 $1.75
Line Opened -2.5
Head to Head Won 6 of last 7
At Ground Lost 5 of last 6 Lost 5 of last 6
Home/Away 45% 23%

Auckland: 5.30pm Saturday

What were the Warriors really doing through their off season? It’s not like they didn’t have much improvement to make having lost their last 8 games to finish 2012 nor correct a defensive attitude and structure that was leaking 26 points a week? They were as soft as butter last Saturday making last year’s Wooden Spooners look like top 4 contenders.  Elliott may well give them a jolt this week but aside from the physical execution their attitude looked to have a terrible smell about it that may well take a hell of a lot more work to change and turn around, if at all. They lose Vatuvei and will welcome a return home to what appears a big crowd (SBW factor). The Roosters weren’t that far away last week through the first 40 and actually showed some promising signs with the attack structure and patterns but cruelled themselves with some basic error and ill discipline (signs again of 2012). I do think that they needed to get that game out of the way to start their year. There had been a lot of hype surrounding the SBW appearance, their new signings and suggestions of major on field improvement let alone face their arch rivals. I think having now got that behind them and in coming back to earth such a losing jolt they’ll have their minds very much on the basics and what’s required to get the job done and 2 points this week. The Warriors should improve something at home but I wouldn’t touch them with stolen money, I expect significant improvement from the Roosters.

Tip: Roosters

Last Word: Mustard keen on the Roosters to put up here.

NRL Betting Interest: Roosters already well backed, happy to play the H2H and or Line.

 

Cowboys v Storm
Cowboys Storm
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $2.00 $1.80
Line Opened -1.5
Head to Head Won 2 of last 3
At Ground Won 8 of last 9 Won 4 of last 5
Home/Away 67% 69%

 

Townsville: 7.30pm Saturday

Cracking game! Both sides have opened their account as expected with wins last weekend, both now travel – the Cowboys returning home for their favoured Saturday night time slot and the Storm (off the heat game factor) to head north to Townsville. The Cowboys were good last week in getting the job done as they did. I think that is a stronger game (and form line) than many think. They showed some patience, some well structured and executed defence and the normal touches that they execute themselves for a 10 point victory. They have a good record over the Storm including a well earnt result in Melb late last year. They have the physical game and go forward to trouble them, kicking options that will make the Storm have to play long and more importantly the defensive smarts to contain the Storm better than most. The Storm have picked up from where they’ve been, professional to a tee, but this is an interesting test as they face a shortish turn around, distant travel off the back of the day / heat game last Sunday (34 degree heat) which was only a week after their return from the UK then into another tropical / humid game against a formidable opponent. If there is one side that eats this sort of stuff for breakfast it’s the Storm, but as game two of the season it is a hurdle. Lots of quality match ups across the park, physically in the middle, Smith at 9, Cronk, Thurston then Slater and Bowen! Interestingly I think the new tougher adjudication of the play the ball with less wrestle and 3 man tackles will favour the Cowboys here as it’s been a master card for the Storm for some years.

Tip: Cowboys

Last Word: Home side have some advantage here, cracking game with two top of the table contenders, like the Cowboys at home.

NRL Betting Interest: Happy to watch, enjoy and learn.

Titans v Raiders
Titans Raiders
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.53 $2.50
Line Opened -6.5 -1.5
Head to Head Lost 4 of last 6
At Ground Won 4 of last 5 Lost 4 of last 5
Home/Away 36% 54%

 

Robina: 2.00pm Sunday

Titans have been priced (and then backed) as good things and if a serious contender in any way shape or form this year then this should be a game that they are winning but I’m not so sure being round 2 that it’s that straight forward. They do get the Raiders on the right week off a poor offering at Penrith and then in dealing with the Dugan and Ferguson issues (for which they will be the better) but the Raiders looked well off their game last week first up and although away I do expect considerable improvement. The problem with the Raiders is that there is two of them – what we saw last week and what we saw last August, they like playing without expectation and they’ll get that this week. I thought the Titans could have won their game 3 times last week yet poor discipline and execution cost them numerous times – as suggested pre season that’s what you get with rookies at 9, 7 and 6. If they set it up properly with some yardage and then some depth and attack their right edge with Taylor and Idris they should have a picnic here, but they both ran with little depth or room last week. Going with the Titans at home but they are priced way unders for mine.

Tip: Titans

Last Word: Just the sort of game that the Riders will bob up in, no expectation or pressure. Titans at home but I trust them as much as I do their opposition.

NRL Betting Interest: Anyone stepping into the Titans at $1.50 in round 2 needs medical assistance.

 

Tigers v Panthers
Tigers Panthers
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.70 $2.15
Line Opened -2.5
Head to Head Won last 5
At Ground Won 9 of last 11 Lost last 3
Home/Away 63% 33%

 

Campbelltown: 3.00pm Sunday

Dear oh dear. Have I said another tricky game yet? Tigers come off a Monday night touch up but at least will play at Campbelltown where they have an excellent record. The game looked to get quickly out of their control last Monday night and the rest was easy to read, possession, momentum and then the amount of defence gassed them.  If they have any steel and or attitude they’ll be very keen to turn things around here. Lets judge their progress after this. The Panthers took a long time to put an ordinary Raiders beyond doubt last weekend and they are still a bit scratchy with new combinations. I thought Manu and Segreyaro played well and certainly added something to the Panthers’ play. Not a game I want to read too much into. I’d rather see what’s on offer, watch and learn. Lean to the Tigers with a strong home advantage and a bounce back.

Tip: Tigers

Last Word: Tipping the Tigers, just, but toss a coin.

NRL Betting Interest: Not on your life.

 

Eagles v Knights
Eagles Knights
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.70 $2.15
Line Opened -2.5
Head to Head Won 5 of last 7
At Ground Won 7 of last 10 Lost 11 of last 13
Home/Away 70% 42%

 

Brookvale: 6.30pm Sunday

Great match up. Thought the Eagles were super last week and if they didn’t already “own” the Broncos then they do now. But for some Hodges pieces of brilliance they were the better team of the first half, clearly dominating the yardage and field position games, and then against an 8 point problem then went on to frank that in the 2nd half – and with key outs in King and G Stewart. Kite was super, Cherry-Evans and Foran outstanding, ably supported by others. I rated their win the best of the round being away, key outs and up against it yet commanding when it mattered. Long term they have to stay healthy (still question the depth) and not encounter any ASADA issues, but all of that can wait for another day. They are very good at Brookvale, hold a commanding H2H and at ground advantage and are likely to get King back – hard to beat. The Knights were also very impressive (none of the $3.75 for the Top 4 we recommended a few weeks ago available now) with 3 months of Bennett polish very obvious. They had their yardage and second phase games right, simple spreads to their left, Boyd playing with speed and precision, a very good start to the year. Hard to go past the Eagles here at home, but the Knights will arrive with plenty of confidence and belief and I like where they are headed this season. Should be a ripper game.

Tip: Eagles

Last Word: Eagles the obvious but the Knights will enjoy the challenge.

NRL Betting Interest: No, just a game to enjoy.

Rabbits v Sharks
  Rabbits Sharks
RTP Rating
H2H Opened $1.45 $2.75
Line Opened -8.5
Head to Head Won 5 of last 7
At Ground Won 11 of last 14 Lost 6 of last 7
Home/Away 79% 38%

 

Homebush: 7.00pm Monday

Rabbits started their season with a bang, lose Sam Burgess and Champion for this but they do have depth. The Rabbits size and power game through the middle is going to be a handful for most sides this year, they then have the touches of skill or class of T’eo, the 7, 6 or Inglis, let alone the quality edge finishing. I liked the way they got into the game last week, and then kept going up a level. They are a serious top 4 contender this year. They also love Homebush, winning 11 of their last 14 here and have a 11 day prep into game 2. Nothing but admiration for the Sharks efforts last week – they picked themselves up and got an important job done, but I fear for the emotional letdown that they would have faced off the back of that game and the then preparation into this next one (no coach or key support staff). I think they are very vulnerable here. It’s somewhat pointless trying to work out or forecast where the Sharks might be as they are dealing with some acute pressure and emotion, which I fear will sooner than later take some toll on their on field offering. If the Rabbits knuckle down this game looks for the taking for mine, I think it might get ugly.

Tip: Rabbits

Last Word: I think the Rabbits might well do a number on their opponent here.

NRL Betting Interest: Rabbits at the Line -8.5 and 13+

 

Individual Game Tips

Bulldogs; Broncos; Roosters; Cowboys; Titans; Tigers; Eagles; Rabbits

Interests

I won’t be firing a serious bullet till round 4 or 5 but for those looking for an interest this week I’d suggest these –

–          Bulldogs – playing at Homebush a lovely advantage, play the H2H and short Line

–          Roosters – opened as a gift at over $2.00, still nothing wrong at the $1.70 H2H and play the line

–          Rabbits – look the best of the round, back the Line and 13+

RTP Ratings

An exclusive individual team rating will be introduced from Round 4 onwards, updated for each team and game circumstance each week. The disclosed form of the opening rounds plus a range of historical and week to week factors will be used to determine and update weekly each allocated rating. All 16 individual team game ratings are updated each week and then published in each new weekly preview.

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NRL Tips, NRL Selections, NRL Previews, NRL Betting

NRL Preview – Round 1 – 2013

 

NRL Preview – Round 1 – 2013

As always with Round 1 we are guessing to a large degree what the form and match ups might really look like. We have 4 new coaches (Roosters, Eels, Warriors and Tigers) and a host of player movements right across all 16 teams, in all reality it will take some weeks before and real form is exposed. But that won’t dampen our enthusiasm to have the footy back and the opening round upon us!!

2013 Season Preview – if you haven’t seen the detailed (19 pages) season preview it’s available here

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Roosters v Rabbitohs

Moore Park: 8.00pm Thursday

Roosters likely to be without Cordner and O’Donnell. SBW will play off the bench and they’ll play with key changes to their line up and patterns of play with a new coach and the inclusions of Maloney, Jennings and SBW. Rabbits welcome the return of Asotasi , Champion and the inclusion of T’eo. There is obviously plenty of arch rival history between these two sides, Roosters have won 4 of their last 6 H2H games and their recent record at home is a poor 2/7 however longer term their best form has been here. The Rabbits come off a successful season last year with a top 4 and semi final finish. Their recent record here is 3/7. From what little we have seen through the recent trials the Roosters look to be prepared to play a more mobile and up tempo game style. Maloney will prove a quality buy and offer them greater options in attack and a suitable pairing for Pearce while Jennings’ speed and step will be welcomed down their left edge. Discipline and basic error cruelled the Roosters more times than not in 2012. Let’s wait and see what and or how this might have changed. The Rabbits will be looking to pick up from where they left off last season, they have a stack of size and grunt and will look to play a power game through the middle. T’eo is class and will add some quality ball play to their right edge which will be a welcome foil for Inglis and Sutton who favour their play to the left. Roosters may need some time – a new coach, patterns of play and personal but I expect that they’ll be here to give this a real shake, Rabbits hard to go past on the back of list strength and combination, Inglis the obvious game breaker.    

Tip: Rabbits 

Last Word: Cracking game to open the season. Think it will be closer than many think, lean to Rabbits with their settled combinations. 

Betting Interest: No thanks, happy to just enjoy that the footy’s back!!   

 

Broncos v Sea Eagles

Suncorp: 7.00pm Friday

Broncos at home on a Friday night. Who’d have thought that! Prince is a key buy for the Broncos and should strengthen their direction, kicking game and short attack options especially down his favoured left edge. The Eagles look a work in progress here, they have made major rotations and changes (approx 14 players) to their top 25 list but more importantly will be without King and Glenn Stewart with whispers about to suggest that Brett Stewart is also very doubtful. The Eagles have near “owned” the Broncos through the last 4 or 5 seasons, they’ve won 8 of their last 10 H2H and won 5 of the last 6 H2H at the ground. They’ve also been very good on the road for distant games winning 5/6 last season, but they will play here with at least 4 if not 5 “new” list players. I’d expect Griffin to reshuffle his starting line up and push Thaiday back to the back row and his favoured right edge, with Hannant to start. Nice test for the Broncos first up at home, especially off the back of their very poor finish to last year when they limped in and then out of the finals. The use and combinations of Prince, Wallace and Norman will be key, while the Eagles will look to Cherry-Evans, Foran and Lyon. The Hodges v Matai match up won’t lack energy. Eagles look under strength with key outs, new faces and a 3 week break from their last trial, Broncos get their chance for a positive start at home. 

Tip: Broncos 

Last Word: Broncs look settled and fresh. Prince a key inclusion. Eagles key outs and new combinations. 

Betting Interest: Broncos H2H will be one of the best backed this week.  

 

Eels v Warriors

Parramatta: 5.30pm Saturday

Two sides with significant chances through the off season, including two new coaches (Stuart and Elliott). I think longer term both sides could well figure as bottom 4 contenders so it will be interesting to see what unfolds here first up. The Eels have new signing Lussick starting and have gone with Kelly at 6. The Warriors have Johnson in doubt while new buys Nielsen and Lowrie will play. The Eels only play 8 games at their true home venue (Parra Stadium) this season (only 9 last year) which negates a longer term advantage they have held with any winning form having been at this venue. They have won 4 of their last 6 here but only 2 of their last 8 H2H. The Warriors are 3 from their last 4 at the ground but have a shocking recent away record to overcome winning only 3 of 13 on the road last season. Defensive combination and attitude would have been Stuart’s key focus through the off season on the back of leaking 28 points a week. Now under game pressure we’ll start to see if and what changes have been made. Stuart is also a noted motivator for one off events and I’d suspect that he’ll have his team very pumped to start well here and in no need of having the dressing room doors opened for them. What to make of the Warriors? Johnson would be a key out and the halves combinations an obvious issue. They too have had some major defensive problems through the last 12 months, in particular down either outside edge. Going with Eels at home but this looks to be one game where we really need to wait and see what’s on offer from two new coaches.  

Tip: Eels 

Last Word: Eels at home, but nothing would surprise. 

Betting Interest: Don’t even think about it!  

 

Bulldogs v Cowboys

Gosford: 7.30pm Saturday

Bulldogs have a great record at Homebush but have chosen to move this game to Gosford. Numerous obvious questions over the Bulldogs with Barba not playing – they will also be without Graham, Kasiano and Pritchard – key outs up front especially against a big physical side like the Cowboys. As is well documented, Barba either scored or was involved in 50% of all of the Bulldogs scoring plays last season. His out is significant and will certainly change how they might attack. We’ll have to wait and see what and how that unfolds. Both Graham and more so Kasiano also offered both yardage and ball play which will also change how they might look to play these opening weeks. The Cowboys are another who look settled and ready to kick on from where they finished late last yr, they have two international big boppers up front, plenty of size and grunt behind them (and to their edge) and make no bones about the fact that they like to steamroll forward to allow Thurston and Bowen room to then play. Their recent away record is much better than many think (8/14 last year) although they have lost their last 5 games straight H2H vs Bulldogs. Great clash, numerous questions to be answered especially those about the Dogs attack, I like the Cowboys first up with the size and power game through the middle to trouble their opponents.

Tip: Cowboys 

Last Word: Power through the middle looks the key, question over Bulldogs attack and points? 

Betting Interest: If you wanted to play Cowboys look a nice interest. 

 

Panthers v Raiders

Penrith: 2.00pm Sunday

Panthers are another with a major list overhaul with some 14 or 15 new buys, 6 of them likely to play here first up including key forwards Manu, Brown and Segeyaro and the skillful Whare at fullback. Given such major change it’s going to take a few weeks to watch and work out Cleary’s intentions and more so the quality of that on field execution. I like Cleary as a coach and although it might take a few more years of development I’m sure that he is on the right track (franked by his record at the Warriors). Walsh, Coote and Whare will need to step up, Segeyaro will offer plenty of spark when he plays at 9. Raiders have a number of players in doubt (or are playing games), Dugan, Croker and Robinson supposedly yet to pass fitness tests. Where do we place them? Is it off the back of their enthusiastic and attacking run home into the finals last year? Surely we’d also have to expect they would have grown in combination and confidence off the back of that experience, but the Raiders of old have made a habit of under performing just when you think they might be on the up. I’m going with them on the back of confidence and combination, but I do expect the Panthers to be up and ready to play. Interesting clash.  

Tip: Raiders 

Last Word: backing the Raiders confidence and enthusiasm first up, but a game with more questions than answers. 

Betting Interest: Pass.  

 

Storm v Dragons

Melbourne: 3.00pm Sunday

Storm once again look the obvious here. Defending premiers marked a very short quote first up at home. Not only have the Storm been leaders on the park but their off season preparation has also become a benchmark for most to follow so I see the recent UK club challenge trip far less a hurdle for them than most and with 11 days back in Melbourne to prepare for this I expect little downside. They have again made their new home venue a fortress winning 11 of 14 here last season, I’d be staggered if they were upset here. I want to see what the Dragons really have to offer through the opening weeks, but right now there list on paper looks thin on quality, depth and in particular a quality game breaker.  Worst still they have had a shocking recent away record, losing 3 of 13 on the road last year, and coming up with zero from 4 when interstate. Hard to see anything else but the professional Storm back in their groove at home.

Tip: Storm 

Last Word: Hard to see anything but the obvious, Storm by a margin. 

Betting Interest: A two try line against the Storm doesn’t seem a hurdle for mine.  

 

Sharks v Titans

Cronulla: 6.30pm Sunday

Gee if we were guessing into many for these games for round 1, what on earth do we make of this on a Thursday morning? I’d expect the Sharks to play as named, but that’s  a guess, as would be what sort of mindset they might well be in given all of the current dramas that they are working through. It may well unite them for a major stand. It may well be too much of a burden. Some may not play and we won’t know until Sunday afternoon. I have a set against the Titans long term this season, but they get their chance here fresh and first up to put their hand up. They have named probably their strongest line up possible, have plenty of size, how they then use that and their attack will be most interesting. It’s a fact that sides with rookie 9’s, 7’s and 6’s just don’t keep winning at this level week in week out so I am also very interested to see how they combine and play. Titans have a poor longer term road record, but if ever they got their chance…

Tip: Titans 

Last Word: Who knows what might unfold between now and Sunday? Titans might get their chance. 

Betting Interest: No thanks, let’s just watch and learn.  

 

Knights v Tigers

Newcastle: 7.00pm Monday

If they can keep their list available (given all the other goings on right now) I like the look of the Knights this year and expect them to give the top 4 a real shake. The Master Coach has now had a year to mould things for this year, from preparation to playing list and he’s left no stone unturned it would appear stamping his want on all of this. He has bought well in particular with hard men Scott and Smith (themselves Bennett men) and importantly they get Gidley back. I also expect them to play off a strong home base with 30,000 odd supporters more often than not and what was once a home ground fortress to again return to being such this season. The Tigers, Potter is a positive, he can coach and has an excellent UK record, I’m sure he’ll also look to tighten up their attack and errors. My concern through the last 12 months and again reinforced through recent trials is the lack of size and grunt that they have through their middle, often being trampled and or opened up at will. Ellis and Heighington are key exits and so a lot of responsibility looks likely to be shouldered by a few and or the expectation of a few youngsters stepping up. The Tigers have also been poor away through recent years, 6 from 16 last season and had their pants well and truly pulled down by the Knights in this game at Newcastle mid last year. I like the Knights at home, lots to watch and review about both.

Tip: Knights 

Last Word: I’m sure the Knights will test the middle then use their edge speed and skill. 

Betting Interest: If I had to I’d be on the Knights but lets just see what’s on offer.  

Interests

I won’t be firing a serious bullet till round 4 or 5 as with so many changes across all 16 clubs I want to see the new offerings, changes and what form is starting to be disclosed before we play.

But given the level of interest and enquiry, for those who’d like to have a play this week if pressed I’d nominate the following for you to work around.

–          Broncos at home, Eagles look under strength and possibly underdone, play the H2H and short Line

–          Cowboys look a nice gamble either way H2H or Line, look likely to get the Bulldogs at the right time

–          Storm look the winner, look to play them via the Line or Tri bet options (over 7.5) and spec the 13+

 

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NRL Tips, NRL Selections, NRL Previews, NRL Betting

NRL 2013 Season Preview

 

NRL 2013 Season Preview

Season 2013 is nearly upon us and the game is looking as exciting and interesting as its ever been. We have four new Coaches (Roosters, Eels, Warriors and Wests Tigers) and for the first time in the games recent past a fixed schedule draw for the first 20 rounds. Season 2013 will now also see four consecutive Thursday night games to open the season as well as the scheduling of 13 Sunday evening (6.30pm) games across the year.

Top 6 Bottom 4

This is clearly subjective but I have 6 sides rated as likely Top 6 contenders and 3 sides I rate as likely to finish in the Bottom 4. I have listed the number of games each Club will face against these contenders and also-rans and provided a further opinion as to the possible difficulty or softness (on paper) of each Club’s 2013 draw.

Top 6

Storm, Knights, Cowboys, Rabbits, Bulldogs and Sharks. More detailed reasoning is listed below for each Club however in my opinion I expect these six sides to be the major contenders in 2013.

Bottom 4

Titans, Panthers and Eels. I expect these sides to struggle in 2012 and finish in the bottom 4. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors and Dragons finished at this end of the table.

Mid Table

Broncos, Roosters, Raiders, Eagles and Wests Tigers. I have these sides rated somewhere mid table with two of them likely to fill the final two spots in the Top 8, the others finishing bottom 8. Of the more highly rated sides I have the Eagles missing the 8.

2013 Draw Overview

I have broken the draw down into key elements that along with their own form will potentially favour, disadvantage and or impact on the season’s outcome for each club.

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+

Home: Away: Interstate/Distant Away: vTop6: vBottom4: Game Days – Thurs: Fri: Sat/Sun: Mon game days (up until R21): Days Turnaround between games –  5, 6, 7, 8 or 9+

 

How they finished in 2012

Team Won For Against Diff vTop8 2012 Home Away IDA
Bulldogs 18 568 369 +199 8/13 11/15 9/12 3/5
Storm 17 579 361 +218 11/15 11/14 9/13 8/12
Rabbitohs 16 559 438 +121 5/13 11/14 6/13 1/6
Eagles 16 497 403 +94 7/12 7/10 10/17 5/6
Cowboys 15 597 445 +152 7/13 8/12 8/14 6/12
Raiders 13 545 536 +9 5/13 7/13 7/13 3/5
Sharks 12 445 441 +4 6/12 7/12 5/13 3/4
Broncos 12 481 447 +34 3/13 7/12 5/13 5/10
Dragons 11 405 438 -33 3/13 8/11 3/13 0/4
Wests Tigers 11 506 551 -45 4/13 5/8 6/16 1/3
Titans 10 449 477 -28 6/14 4/11 6/13 3/9
Knights 10 448 488 -40 5/15 5/12 5/12 2/5
Roosters 8 462 626 -164 2/11 5/12 3/12 1/4
Warriors 8 497 609 -112 3/14 5/11 3/13 3/12
Panthers 8 409 575 -166 2/12 4/12 4/12 1/5
Eels 6 431 674 -243 4/13 4/9 2/15 1/4

vTop8 2012 = record and games against the sides that finished Top 8 in 2012

IDA = Interstate or Distant Away game record

 

Club by Club Preview

Let’s cast an eye and opinion over each club and the potential pros and cons as we preview the coming season (in alphabetical order).

Brisbane Broncos
Broncos Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Griffin 8 12 481 9 20.0 447 8 18.6 34 58% 38%
2011 Griffin 3 18 511 6 21.3 372 4 15.5 139 86% 62%
2010 Henjack 10 11 508 9 21.2 535 10 22.3 -27 42% 50%
2009 Henjack 6 14 511 9 21.3 566 13 23.6 -55 69% 50%

 2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 11 10 5 0 11 3 3 1 3 7 2 1

2013 Coach: Anthony Griffin

Gains: David Stagg (Canterbury), Scott Prince (Gold Coast), Joe Bond (Redcliffe), Jake Granville

Losses: Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra), Petero Civoniceva (retirement), Ben Te’o (South Sydney), Mitchell Frei (Newcastle)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $17   Top 4 $4.50    Miss 8 $1.85    Wooden Spoon $17

Of Note: Lost 6 of their last 7 games to finish 2012; won only 3 of 13 games v Top 8 sides in 2012; Attack and Defence record has now slipped to mid table; Have 11 Friday night games in opening 20 weeks of 2013.

How would the Broncos fare post Lockyer in 2012? By season’s end not that well. The Broncos list oozes young talent but the NRL season can be a tough long hard slog and so 2012 proved, however they will benefit considerably for that experience into this season.

Prince is a positive acquisition and I think the “sea change” coupled with the positive enthusiasm of the youth around him might well see his form return to its best. I expect that he will play at 7 and provide additional direction, experience and kick options with either Wallace or Norman at 6 (and or Norman / Hoffman at 1).

By mid year 2012 the Broncos attack pattern had become stale and predicable and for mine requires a significant overhaul for this year, signs of which Griffin started to show through the closing weeks of last year’s end.

The Broncos have a positive Home advantage, the best member supporter base in the competition (home crowds) and a relatively soft draw with 11 Friday night games and 13 games with a 6 day or longer turnaround. Prince may well just be the missing link now in offering the experience and direction required post Lockyer while I expect their youthful talent will be much better for the experiences of a tough last season campaign.    

Forecast: Top 8.  

 

Canberra Raiders
Raiders Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Furner 6 13 545 5 22.7 536 11 22.3 9 54% 54%
2011 Furner 15 6 423 13 17.6 623 15 26.0 -200 33% 17%
2010 Furner 7 13 499 11 20.8 493 6 20.5 6 54% 54%
2009 Furner 13 9 489 12 20.4 520 10 21.7 -31 58% 17%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 4 10 4 0 1 16 1 1 2 9 1 1

2013 Coach: David Furner

Gains: Jake Foster (Canterbury), Joel Edwards (Newcastle)

Losses: Michael Chee Kam (Manly), Drury Low (Canterbury), Mark Ioane (Gold Coast), Bronson Harrison (St George Illawarra)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $26   Top 4 $7.00    Miss 8 $1.60    Wooden Spoon $11

Of Note: Won their last 5 last year to qualify for the semis; Need considerable improvement in defence. Still leaking plus 22 points a game. Return of class playmaker Campese a potential plus; 16 of their first 20 games are Saturday/Sunday (consistent turnarounds); 7 of their first 11 games are Away.

As I suggested in last year’s season preview, the Raiders are an enigma. When they are good they are very good but when they are bad they are awful. 

For mine the Raiders issues are in their head and attitude. There is no doubt the talent across their list, they have size, grunt, skill and speed and shown on occasions on their day they can touch up some of the best (Storm in Melbourne, Bulldogs at home; Sharks at Cronulla). But just when they have shown initial signs that they might have turned the corner they fold quickly when playing under expectation and pressure.

They have a stable list and have added two young work rate backrowers in Foster and Edwards. If Campese can get past his recent leg injuries he is a class playmaker and game breaker capable of leading them on a winning finals bound charge. They should have (at times do) a Home advantage and will have the benefit 13 x 6 day or longer turnarounds and 16 weekend (Saturday/Sunday) games, but they do have a tough Away draw this season with 7 of their first 11 games on the road as well as at least 4 tough away legs.

Personally I doubt that even the best crystal ball could accurately forecast the Raiders likely fortunes into 2013. Their talented youth should benefit considerably from the experience of 2012 but they need a significant improvement in defence and their ability (mental toughness) to play well under expectation. Certainly they could be semi finalists again.

Forecast: Mid table, potential Top 8 but lots of guess work knowing if they’ve got their heads right for the challenge each week.

 

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Bulldogs Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Hasler 1 18 568 3 23.7 369 2 15.4 199 73% 75%
2011 Moore 9 12 449 10 18.7 489 9 20.4 -40 70% 56%
2010 Moore 13 9 494 12 20.6 539 11 22.5 -45 30% 43%
2009 Moore 2 18 575 1 24.0 428 3 17.8 147 82% 67%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
9 15 5 9 4 2 9 7 0 3 2 5 8 0

2013 Coach: Des Hasler

Gains: Tony Williams (Sea Eagles),

Losses:  Sione Kite (Widnes), Michael Lett (Illawarra Cutters – NSW Cup), Jonothan Wright (Cronulla), Jake Foster (Canberra),  Luke MacDougall (retirement), Tupou Sopoaga (Cronulla), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney), David Stagg (Brisbane)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $7   Top 4 $1.75    Miss 8 $4.00    Wooden Spoon $67

Of Note: Barba – how long does he not play? T-Rex Williams a key acquisition; Finshed 3rd in Attack and 2nd in Defence in 2012, a solid platform on which to build. Significant home ground advantage. Tricky Away draw with a number of tough away legs.

Hasler again stamped his class as a coach with his first year up results at the Bulldogs in 2012. Minor Premiers and beaten grand finalists and outstanding turn around on where they had been and all on the back of a fresh new and enterprising attack pattern!

There has been some shuffling of their list with the mid year signings of Inu, Perrett and the arrival of Williams. The will face an immediate challenge to start the new season with two key front rowers (Graham and Kasiano) sidelined for a number of weeks (suspension and injury). 

The Bulldogs achievements in 2012 are even more remarkable when we consider that they finished mid table across many key stats and notably last as the most penalized team in the competition. I have no doubt that they will improve in each of these areas into the new season and have the benefit of Hasler’s longer term off season planning and preparation as opposed to his surprise and late arrival last year.

Ben Barba’s availability and then quality of form longer term when he returns has now become the mystery question. He is a rare, class individual, a game breaker whose dazzling form last season had considerable influence on the Bulldogs winning run. He scored 23 tries in 24 games let alone the influence of line break, support and kick return play.

I’m still happy to have a slice of the Bulldogs longer term off a guess that Barba might well play a big part in their season.  They have a quality coach; a very talented list; a considerable Home advantage and the hunger and fire in the belly of the disappointment of a grand final defeat to drive their efforts this season. They may well start the season slowly but I still expect them to finish Top 4 and all being well to then give September a real shake.

Forecast: Top 4 and then Title contender.

 

Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Sharks Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Flanagan 7 12 445 13 22.7 441 6 18.4 4 58% 38%
2011 Flanagan 13 7 428 12 17.8 557 13 23.2 -129 36% 23%
2010 Stuart 14 7 354 16 14.8 609 15 25.4 -255 36% 23%
2009 Stuart 15 5 359 16 15.0 568 14 23.7 -209 30% 14%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
11 13 4 8 4 0 3 13 2 2 3 3 5 1

2013 Coach: Shane Flanagan

Gains: Luke Lewis (Penrith), Beau Ryan (Wests Tigers), Chris Heighington (Wests Tigers), Michael Gordon (Penrith), Jonathan Wright (Bulldogs), Tupou Sopoaga (Canterbury)

Losses: Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra), Jeremy Smith (Newcastle), Colin Best (retirement), John Williams (retirement), Josh Cordoba (retirement)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $12   Top 4 $2.75    Miss 8 $2.30    Wooden Spoon $31

Of Note: 5 key off season signings; Sharper speed and finishing options to outside edges; Tough Away schedule for 2013

Look who’s been on a shopping spree!! 5 key off season signings has strengthened their list considerably, in particular their attacking prowess across their outside back 5.

Coach Flanagan continues to impress with the work that he has done through the last 2 yrs; reshaping their list quality and depth and improving their onfield performance which then resulted with a top 8 and semi final appearance last year. Of note their improvement in defence (down nearly 5 points a game and an improved rating as sixth best in the comp).

I think the signings of Lewis and Gordon though are significant. Lewis is a class act. He has been one of those rare individuals that can stamp themselves on their team mates and the onfield team performance. He also has the versatility of being able to play a range of roles and positions. I’m sure that in good form he will prove a very astute purchase. Gordon looks another rare talent as well, very skillful, I think we are yet to see his best and he’ll have far more opportunity for impact from the likely fullback role. Carney’s return from a serious injury and in particular the quality of his form will be instrumental in their longer term fortunes. He was in very poor after the Origin period last year and the Sharks felt the impact of that at club level.

The Sharks success on the road will be a telling factor this season (and it’s been a longer term issue). They start the year with 6 of their first 9 games Away, including a run of 5 straight (rounds 5 to 9). They also face a number of tough away legs and 5 games (home or away) with a 5 or 6 day turn around.   

I like the look of where the Sharks are headed in 2013. They have bought well, strengthened the right areas and have a positive season (2012) on which to build. I actually think they over achieved last year in making the 8 and playing semi final footy given the obvious weakness that they had on their outside edges and with quality depth and the reliance on a couple of key individuals (Gallen and Carney). They look far stronger and have added quality to their edge play and additional class in Lewis and Gordon. Fans should well be excited about the months ahead.

The Sharks look a strong top 6 side. If there is a question mark it will be their ability to cope longer term with the “workload, wear and tear” of key players through their Origin and a tough Away draw commitments.

Forecast: Top 6.

 

Gold Coast Titans
Titans Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Cartwright 11 10 449 11 18.7 477 9 19.9 -28 36% 46%
2011 Cartwright 16 6 363 16 15.1 629 16 26.2 -266 25% 25%
2010 Cartwright 4 15 520 7 21.7 498 7 20.8 22 69% 54%
2009 Cartwright 3 16 514 8 21.4 467 5 19.5 47 85% 38%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
11 13 12 10 4 0 2 15 1 2 4 4 2 2

 

2013 Coach: John Cartwright

Gains: David Taylor (South Sydney), Brad Takairangi (Roosters), Mark Ioane (Canberra), Matthew Russell (Wigan)

Losses: Kayne Lawton (Manly), Scott Prince (Brisbane), Beau Champion (Rabbitohs), Brenton Lawrence (Manly), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Dominique Peyroux (NZ Warriors), Phil Graham (retired), Michael Henderson (St George Illawarra)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $51   Top 4 $11.00    Miss 8 $1.28    Wooden Spoon $5.50

Of Note: Loss of experienced play maker Prince; 13 Away games (12 x distant / interstate); 10 games v potential top 6 sides; questionable depth.

2012 was a tough gig for the Titans with so many negative off field issues at play (including in what form they might survive as an identity) and it would have been a relief to have most of this now settled and able to now focus on how they then move forward. But the new owners and management still have a major task at hand to turn the club into the professional and competitive operation that they would desire, a task that doesn’t always happen quickly.

As for 2013 I have the Titans pegged as a significant risk. I have question marks over the quality, depth and experience across their list to be able to mount a longer term challenge across what is a tough long season. I also question the lack of experience in key directional and play making roles of 9, 7 and 6 given the exit of Prince. They will rely on “rookie” players (albeit talented) in these critical roles and appear to have “on paper” questionable “list” depth, in particular across their back 5 and this depth will surely be tested with any run of injury and or Origin workload (Bird, Harrison, Myles and Taylor).

The Titans also face one of the toughest draws available. They have 13 Away games, 12 of them tough distant legs with at least 4 tricky away combinations; they have 10 games v’s potential top of the table contenders and at least 6 games on the back of short 5 or 6 day turnarounds.

On the upside they will have had been able to put key players (Idris and Taylor in particular) through quality, injury free off season programs in preparation for the challenges ahead.

I can’t place the Titans anywhere else than as a bottom 4 side. Rarely do sides win consistently at this level with inexperience at 9, 7 and 6 while I’m sure their squad list will be well tested. I expect that they will again struggle on the ‘road’. The Titans are a favoured choice in most “Wooden Spoon” (most losses) markets, for good reason and I think by mid season Coach Cartwright may well be earmarked as “the first coach sacked” for 2013.  

Forecast: Bottom 2, my pick for the “Spoon”.

 

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Eagles Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Toovey 4 16 497 8 20.7 403 3 16.8 94 70% 59%
2011 Hasler 2 18 539 1 22.5 331 2 13.8 208 100% 65%
2010 Hasler 8 12 545 4 22.7 510 9 21.3 35 50% 47%
2009 Hasler 5 14 549 5 22.9 459 4 19.1 90 64% 50%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
11 13 5 9 5 1 4 6 7 2 3 4 2 3

 

2013 Coach: Geoff Toovey

Gains: Esi Tonga (Parramatta), Justin Horo (Parramatta), Kayne Lawton (Gold Coast), Richie Fa’aoso (Melbourne), Brenton Lawrence (Gold Coast), David Gower (St George Illawarra), Ligi Sao (NZ Warriors), Michael Chee Kam (Canberra), James Hasson (Cronulla), Ben Musolino (St George Illawarra), Peta Hiku (NZ Warriors), Dane Chisholm (Wests Tigers), Jesse Sene-Lefao (Penrith)

Losses: Dean Whare (Penrith), Tony Williams (Canterbury), Darcy Lussick (Parramatta), Daniel Harrison (Parramatta), Michael Oldfield (Roosters), Josh Drinkwater (St George Illawarra)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $12   Top 4 $2.75    Miss 8 $2.50    Wooden Spoon $31

Of Note: Considerable playing list change and rotation; Significant loss of top grade quality and depth; 7 Monday night games.

This looks a lot like 2010. A rebuilding, reshaping year with significant player list rotation.

What the Eagles do have is 5 quality, class individuals around which they build their side (and success) – Lyon, Glenn and Brett Stewart, Foran and Cherry-Evans. But the expense of such quality players can come at a cost in how any club looks to balance their top players. What they now look to be struggling with is the depth and quality of player to put around this to be a competitive force, with the loss through 2011 and 2012 of some 9 top grade players (including the likes of T-Rex Williams, Hopoate, Rodney, Lussick, Whare, etc) and a massive rotation across their top playing list.

Age and injury issues may also hurt the Eagles 2013 fortunes, with Glenn Stewart now likely to miss up to 8 weeks of the start to the season due to injury while Lyon, Brett Stewart and Watmough have each had their own share of injury issues.

The Eagles do enjoy a considerable Home advantage at Brookvale and appeared to have fared well with their draw including 5 games against potential bottom of the table contenders. They have also been allocated 7 Monday night games but the majority of these have been positioned in two blocks of 3 at least allowing for consistent 7 day turnarounds.

For mine the signs are already there and read quite loudly that the Eagles may well be a shell of days past and for mine a huge risk into this season. I can’t see them having the necessary “list” depth and quality to be able to compete week in week out across a long season. Certainly with their key 5 fit and available they will be competitive but that may well be a risk and supported by thin depth. I see a season on the slide and the Eagles missing the top 8 and semi finals footy for the first year in some time.    

Forecast: Bottom 8.

 

Melbourne Storm
Storm Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Bellamy 2 17 579 2 24.1 361 1 15.0 218 79% 69%
2011 Bellamy 1 19 521 4 21.7 308 1 12.8 213 79% 50%
2010 Bellamy 16 14 489 13 20.4 363 2 15.1 126 75% 42%
2009 Bellamy 4 14 505 11 21.0 348 2 14.5 157 79% 46%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 12 8 4 2 2 9 3 4 2 1 4 3

2013 Coach: Craig Bellamy

Gains: Junior Sa’u (Newcastle Knights), Junior Moors (Wests Tigers), Brett Finch (Wigan), Lagi Setu, Tim Glasby, Kurt Mann (Newcastle)

Losses: Dane Nielsen (NZ Warriors), Sika Manu (Penrith), Richie Fa’aoso (Manly), Anthony Quinn (Knights), Rory Kostjasyn (North Queensland), Todd Lowrie (NZ Warriors), Jaman Lowe (retirement), Michael Greenfield (retirement)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $5.80   Top 4 $1.55    Miss 8 $4.50    Wooden Spoon $67

Of Note: Outstanding defensive record; Considerable playing list change and rotation; Significant loss of top grade quality and depth; 7 Monday night games.

Love them or hate them, the Storm’s record through the last 5 or 6 years has been nothing but outstanding. I think of even greater achievement is their defensive record. They have consistently been the best or second best defensive side across each of the last 5 seasons – a significant feat in the modern game (and done so with high rotations on their player list across most of those years).

And once again they have numerous rotations across their top 25 list with 8 exits and 6 inclusions – each of them likely to play top grade and add additional depth. Bellamy’s record is also second to none in his ability to attract and then improve a player. I’m sure we’ll see something similar happen with some from this list.

As they do most years the Storm face the additional challengers of a tricky draw, schedule and Origin commitments. They have a mixed draw, 5 games off the back of short 5 day turnarounds; a schedule that will include 7 x Thurs, Fri  or Mon games and well as 9 weekend fixtures (meaning a weekly schedule that will chop and change often) and then the additional work load that the various rep commitments will carry. But their professionalism carries them along way each year (including the obvious premiership title last season), they win 8 out of every 10 games at home and year in year out carry a quality away / road record.

As they have through recent years if the Storm can avoid any major injury issue to Smith, Slater or Cronk then they will be a top 4 contender once again. The experience or recent campaign (winning and losing) coupled with the obvious key individual class that they carry has to once again position them as one of the top few sides to beat.  

Forecast: Top 2, once again the team to beat.

 

Newcastle Knights
Knights Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Bennett 12 10 448 12 18.7 488 10 20.3 -40 42% 42%
2011 Stone 8 12 478 9 19.9 443 7 18.5 35 58% 38%
2010 Stone 11 10 499 10 20.8 569 14 23.7 -70 50% 33%
2009 Smith 7 13 508 10 21.2 491 9 20.5 17 83% 23%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 6 9 5 0 0 16 2 0 4 8 2 0

2013 Coach: Wayne Bennett

Gains: Beau Scott (St George Illawarra), Jeremy Smith (Cronulla), David Fa’alogo (Huddersfield), Anthony Quinn (Storm), Joseph BJ Leilua (Roosters), Travis Waddell (Raiders), Toka Likiliki (NZ Warriors), Mitchell Frei (Brisbane)

Losses: Richie Fa’aoso (Melb/Eagles), Zeb Taia (Catalans Dragons), Wes Naiqama (Penrith), Kyle O’Donnell (Penrith), Joel Edwards (Canberra), Evarn Tuimavave (Hull KR), Junior Sa’u (Melbourne), Sam Anderson (Penrith), Ethan Cook (Penrith), Kurt Mann (Melboourne)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $15   Top 4 $3.50    Miss 8 $2.00    Wooden Spoon $26

Of Note: Gidley returns from injury; Scott, Smith and Fa’alogo add key forward depth; good draw and should have a significant home advantage in 2013.

I think we will see the Bennett polish come to the fore with the Knights in 2013. Last season was a learning curve for all concerned, in particular the coach in working out his list, instilling his message and work ethic and getting the “attitude” to where it needed to be – for which the evidence didn’t start to emerge until the last 3rd of their year.

The Knights now have 3 key “ins” with the return of Gidley and the acquisition of hardened, experienced forwards in Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith (who are also notable “Bennett” men). They also look to have significant more depth across most major positions in particular their outside edges. I think the Coach also started to show his hand through those closing months last year of his preparedness to play a more expansive attack play to which his list is now well suited and I am sure we will see more of the same into the new season.

The draw has been very kind to the Knights with just 6 distant away games; 10 games with a 7 or 8 day turnaround and 16 games across a Saturday or Sunday. They have also draw 5 games against potential bottom 4 sides. I’d be happy to suggest that on paper the Knights have one of the “nicest” draws available into season 2013. I also expect that they will be rebuilding their home ground advantage this year with a strengthened list and swelling local membership support which should see them with near 30,000 home supporters for most games.

I like where the Knights are headed and I have them pegged as a significant contender in 2013. I expect them to finish top 6 and off the back of their “soft” draw would not be surprised to see them top 4. This season will see Bennett pass the record as the games longest serving coach first grade coach, I think come September we might again be singing his praises for his deeds in returning the Knights back to finals footy.  

Forecast: Top 4.

 

NZ Warriors
Warriors Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 McLennan 14 8 497 7 20.7 609 14 25.4 -112 45% 23%
2011 Cleary 6* 14 504 7 21.0 393 5 16.4 111 67% 50%
2010 Cleary 5 14 539 5 22.5 486 3 20.3 53 58% 54%
2009 Cleary 14 7 377 15 15.7 565 12 23.5 -188 42% 17%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
10 14 12 9 5 1 1 14 2 0 4 4 4 2

2013 Coach: Matt Elliott (replaces) Ivan Cleary

Gains: Thomas Leuluai (Wigan), Dane Nielsen (Melbourne), Harry Siejka (Penrith), Todd Lowrie (Melbourne), Dominique Peyroux (Gold Coast)

Losses: Lewis Brown (Penrith), Micheal Luck (retirement), James Maloney (Roosters), Toka Likiliki (Newcastle), Ligi Sao (Manly), Omar Slaimankhel (Japanese rugby union), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $11   Top 4 $3.10    Miss 8 $2.20    Wooden Spoon $26

Of Note: Another new coach; Key losses in Maloney, Brown and Luck? Inexperienced youth? Away record?

I have major reservations and questions over the Warriors into 2013. They again start their campaign with a new Coach and an overhaul of their coaching staff and it would appear are wanting to back themselves on the talented youth that they have had coming through their successful U20’s program through recent years. That plan is going to be further tested with the key exits of Maloney, Brown and Luck and selective new signing activity.

I’m sure that new Coach Elliott has two major goals penciled in for considerable off season focus and improvement, the structure and effectiveness of their defence and their appalling 2012 Away record. Defensively things fell apart for them last season slipping quickly to 14th overall and leaking at will some 26 points each week – the majority of this on either edge through inexperienced top grade combinations. On the back of a poor season their Away record crumbled to winning just 1 in 4, something that they had mastered in their prior two seasons (winning 1 in 2 away).

2013 won’t be an easier. They will start the year without Johnson at 7, need to sort out a choice and then combination at 6 while also hope that the experience of last season will have improved a number of their younger squad members. They will also face a tough Away assignment choosing to play only 10 games at their traditional home base (and so 14 road games).

There is no doubting the talent across the Warriors list and through their junior program. Whether they have the right mix of experience and leadership to then perform as a winning contender might well be the question. The Warriors are a lot like the naughty school boy, when he’s good he’s brilliant but when he’s bad he’s bloody awful!! Personally I think they look a major risk this year and a likely bottom 6 side.

Forecast: Bottom 6.

 

North Queensland Cowboys
Cowboys Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Henry 5 15 597 1 24.9 445 7 18.5 152 67% 57%
2011 Henry 7 14 532 2 22.2 480 8 20.0 52 75% 38%
2010 Henry 15 5 425 14 17.7 667 16 27.8 -242 33% 8%
2009 Henry 12 11 558 3 23.3 474 7 19.8 84 58% 33%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 10 9 5 0 5 10 3 1 5 4 6 1

 

2013 Coach: Neil Henry

Gains: Rory Kostjasyn (Melbourne), Curtis Rona (Roosters), Clint Greenshields (Catalans), Scott Moore (Huddersfield)

Losses: James Segeyaro (Penrith), Corey Paterson (Hull KR), Moses Pangai (Penrith), Dane Hogan (Easts Tigers), Aaron Payne (retirement)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $17   Top 4 $4.25    Miss 8 $1.85    Wooden Spoon $15

Of Note: Is their window of opportunity now open? Big forward pack, class at 6 and 1. Home advantage, improved on the ‘road”.

Two years ago, Coach Henry did a major clean out and reshape of the Cowboys list which has since seen them finish semi finalists (and some would argue unlucky not to have progressed further than they did in 2012). On the back of this growth and improvement the “window of opportunity” to compete as a top 4 contender certainly looks there for the taking into 2013.

The Cowboys tick many boxes. A sizeable list of forwards (and depth) led by two international front rowers in Scott and Tamou; World class direction and game breakers at 6 and 1 (Thurston and Bowen) coupled with speed and skill on their edges. They have solved their issue of combination in the halves (with both Thompson and Moore) and hold a considerable advantage when playing at home. Their other area of notable improvement has been on the road, winning 8 of 14 last season (including wins at tough away venues like Melbourne, Canberra and Wollongong), however winning in Sydney is still a task (2/6).

They will need to resolve a suitable combination at 9 with the retirement of Payne and loss of Segeyaro, Mitchell looks the obvious choice having played much of last season in that role. The draw has been kind to them with 5 games against potential bottom 4 sides and at least 10 games scheduled for Sat/Sun.

I have the Cowboys marked as a top 6 side with the potential to finish top 4 and be a real contender in 2013. They have a good balance across their list, quality depth, size, class and speed plus the advantage of a long distant Home venue where they improve and many struggle to win at. I expect them to be giving September a shake once again.

Forecast: Top 4.

 

Parramatta Eels
Eels Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Kearney 16 6 431 14 18.0 674 16 28.1 -243 44% 13%
2011 Kearney 14 6 385 15 16.0 538 12 22.4 -153 40% 14%
2010 Anderson 12 10 413 15 17.2 491 5 20.5 -78 30% 50%
2009 Anderson 8* 12 476 13 19.8 473 6 19.7 3 70% 44%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
8 16 4 8 4 1 3 11 3 4 1 3 5 1

 

2013 Coach: Ricky Stuart (replaces Stephen Kearney)

Gains: Daniel Harrison (Manly), Darcy Lussick (Manly), Kenny Edwards, Lorenzo Ma’afu

Losses: Nathan Hindmarsh (retirement), Luke Burt (retirement), Casey McGuire (retirement), Justin Poore (Wakefield), Justin Horo (Manly), Esi Tonga (Manly)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $15   Top 4 $4.00    Miss 8 $1.85    Wooden Spoon $13

Of Note: New Coach; new signings (Lussick, Harrison); key retirement (Hindmarsh); major defensive problems (16th) and tough draw.

The Eels are one of the four sides who start 2013 with a new coach, notably NSW Origin mentor Ricky Stuart, and as he keeps reminding everyone he certainly has a job to do that is going to take some years to turn around.

With the retirements of a number of key top grade experience (notably Hindmarsh and Burt) and only two key new recruits in forwards Lussick and Harrison the Eels will be playing with a very similar list to last season while also blooding some of their own juniors. That certainly looks an ask, especially in defence off the back of leaking 28 points a week last season and finishing ranked at the bottom of the table for points against. Stuart has made it very clear that Defence has been his major off season coaching priority but whether a similar list of players can deliver that improvement will be key to their 2013 fortunes.

The Eels also face a very tough draw, in particular their Away legs. They will play only 8 games at their traditional home ground (Parramatta stadium) and so face 16 “away” games off the back of a 13% away winning record across their last two seasons. Worst still they will face at least 6 tough away stints and 5 games off a 5 or 6 day turnaround.

Hayne is critical to any positive or winning performance from the Eels. There will also be significant expectation about the form and attitude of Sandow, while they also have to resolve a suitable choice and combination at 6. The loss of Hindmarsh shouldn’t be understated either, his work rate and leadership has all but carried this side through recent years leaving a big void to fill.

I’m sure we will see positive signs of improvement during 2012 but even so I still think there is considerable restructure and recruitment required that is going to take some years to complete. In all reality I can’t see the Eels being anything more than a bottom 4 side in 2013.

Forecast: Bottom 4.

 

Penrith Panthers
Panthers Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Cleary 15 8 409 15 17.0 575 13 24.0 -166 33% 33%
2011 Elliott 12 9 430 11 17.9 517 11 21.5 -87 50% 33%
2010 Elliott 2 15 645 1 26.9 489 4 20.4 156 69% 46%
2009 Elliott 11 11 515 7 21.5 589 15 24.5 -74 58% 42%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 3 8 4 0 0 17 1 0 4 9 1 0

 

2013 Coach: Ivan Cleary

Gains: Lewis Brown (Warriors), Dean Whare (Sea Eagles), Sika Manu (Storm), James Segeyaro (Cowboys), Wes Naiqama (Knights), Kyle O’Donnell (Knights), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), Mose Masoe (Roosters), James Roberts (Rabbitohs), Moses Pangai (Cowboys), Sam Anderson (Knights), Ethan Cook (Knights), Maurice Kennedy, Tom Humble (Wests Tigers), Anthony Cherrington (Roosters)

Losses: Michael Gordon (Cronulla), Luke Lewis (Cronulla), Michael Jennings (Roosters), Harry Siejka (Warriors), Nafe Seluini (Roosters), Sandor Earl (Canberra), Travis Burns (Hull KR), Mitch Achurch (Leeds)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $67   Top 4 $13    Miss 8 $1.25    Wooden Spoon $4

Of Note: Huge player list rotation (again), some 15 players; Are Gordon, Lewis and Jennings key outs?

The Panthers are another “work in progress” as Gould and Cleary stamp their direction on the shape of their player list and development program for the club into the coming years. Instrumental to this has been the exits for one reason or another of Lewis, Jennings and Gordon and the signings and rotations of some 15 players across their to 25 player list.

Certainly they look to have made some positive signings notably across their forward offering, including Brown, Manu, Segeyaro and O’Donnell, while James Roberts looks a young player of considerable talent who could well break through and shine somewhere in their backline this season. Whether they yet have a quality game breaker on their list or the required class at 9, 7, 6 and 1 is doubtful. 

There is no doubt the turnaround required having finished 11th and 15th through recent seasons, their defensive stats blowing out further and a poor away record. They do have a good draw to work with this year with only 3 interstate or distant away games and at least 17 Sat/Sun fixtures so a consistency of routine and little travel will be a major advantage for them to work with.

I like Cleary as a coach. Step by step he rebuilt the Warriors and moulded them into a consistent, winning unit including a Grand Final appearance only two seasons ago. For mine the Warriors made a massive blunder in letting him exit – a positive gain for Gould and his new work at the Panthers. After a year of sorting through the existing list and beginning the challenge of reshaping it toward his own plan, I expect that we will see further evidence and positive steps toward this through 2013. Although showing improvement and movement up the table I still think they are likely to be a bottom 6 side with the fruits of their labor a season or two away.

Forecast: Improving, but still Bottom 6.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Maguire 3 16 559 4 23.3 438 5 18.3 121 79% 46%
2011 Lang 10 11 531 3 22.1 562 14 23.4 -31 60% 56%
2010 Lang 9 11 584 2 24.3 567 13 23.6 17 60% 36%
2009 Taylor 10 11 566 2 23.6 549 11 22.9 17 60% 43%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
11 13 6 9 4 1 6 8 3 4 2 4 0 4

2013 Coach: Michael Maguire

Gains: Ben Te’o (South Sydney),  Jeff Lima (Wigan), Beau Champion (Titans), Bryson Goodwin (Canterbury), George Burgess (Bradford), Mitchell Bucket (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles)

Losses: Eddy Pettybourne (Wests Tigers), Dave Taylor (Gold Coast), Scott Geddes (retirement), Jason Roberts (released – Penrith), Adrian Ha’angana (released)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $9   Top 4 $2.50    Miss 8 $2.50    Wooden Spoon $41

Of Note: Top 4 contender in 2012; Key signings in Te’o; Lima; G Burges and Champion; Class of Inglis; Homebush Home advantage.

Not many sides finish top 4 and then add quality signings for the following season yet the Rabbitohs have achieved this with only one notable loss in Dave Taylor. Te’o, Lima, George Burgess and Champion are quality signings that now add additional experience and quality to what was already a strong player list.

Like the Cowboys the “window of opportunity” certainly looks open right now for the Rabbits. It could well be argued that they had underperformed through seasons 09 to 11 but under new coach Maguire they certainly stood up in 2012 as a contender, and with they should be further experienced off the back of a winning year and in being a top 4 contender.

There needs to be two areas of improvement for the Rabbits to now become a title contender; 1) being able to consistently win against the top of table sides (poor in general in 2012, 5/13), and 2) winning distant interstate away games (1/6 last season). They do have the benefit of a considerable Home advantage now when playing at Homebush, winning 80% of these games last year and although choosing to move a few home fixtures this season they will still play at least 11 games there.

Maguire made his intentions of play pretty clear last year, and we’ll see more of the same into the new season, lots of size and grunt up front, a power yardage and physical forward game, the class of Inglis’s attacking and or finishing raids, sleight of hand ball play from Sutton, all round quality from Sam Burges, there are many positives. I also think Te’o will prove a high quality signing.  

There’s a lot to like about the Rabbitohs chances in 2013. I have them marked as a top 4 contender and stronger than last year. It could all then being coming together nicely by finals time for them to give September an even bigger shake than they did last year.

Forecast: Top 4 and title contender.

 

St George Illawarra Dragons
Dragons Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Price 9 11 405 16 16.9 438 4 18.3 -33 73% 23%
2011 Bennett 5 14 483 8 20.1 341 3 14.2 142 64% 47%
2010 Bennett 1** 17 518 8 21.6 299 1 12.5 219 73% 75%
2009 Bennett 1 17 548 6 22.8 329 1 13.7 219 77% 54%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 3 9 5 1 3 12 2 2 5 3 2 3

 

2013 Coach: Steven Price

Gains: Gerard Beale (Brisbane), Bronson Harrison (Canberra), Michael Henderson (Gold Coast), Josh Drinkwater (Manly), Tyson Frizell (Cronulla)

Losses: Ben Hornby (retirement), Beau Scott (Newcastle), Jeremy Latimore (Penrith), Dean Young (retired), Josh Miller (retirement), Ben Musolino (Manly), David Gower (Manly), Jack Buchanan (Wests Tigers)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $34   Top 4 $9    Miss 8 $1.33    Wooden Spoon $7

Of Note: Thin on depth and quality across playing list? Halves combinations? After the success of 2009/10 are they still sliding in the wrong direction? Ongoing speculation over Coach.

Well if the “window” is open right now for a few clubs one must worry that it has not closed, and quickly for the Dragons. Off the back of their success in 09 and 10 with an aging list their list management has been difficult if not questionable and reflected in their 2012 (and likely 2013) slide. Beale, Frizell and Drinkwater look promising signings but on the back of their poor efforts last season and the retirements of Young and Hornby the overall list quality and depth still looks a concern.

The Dragons also have two areas that need drastic improvement. For all the pre 2012 season huff and puff of Price looking to change their attack patterns and be prepared to be more adventurous with their play the Dragons scored the least points of any team in the competition, a terrible effort for a side that finished with the title just two years prior. Their second issue was their horrendous Away record, winning just 3 of 13 road games (and a couple of those by skinny margins).

The ongoing speculation about the Coaching role can not be a good thing for them in general, sooner or later there has to be a question over who the players are looking to play for, is it the existing coach or could it be someone else. This type of issue has destabilized many a club in the past, I’m sure it won’t be helpful for the Dragons in 2013.

I can’t see the Dragons as anything other than a bottom 8 side, and it could well be uglier than that (bottom 4) as they look a shadow of their former self of just a few years ago. This season looks a year of transition as they resolve the coaching issue and reshape their playing list for the years ahead.  

Forecast: Bottom 6.

 

Sydney Roosters
Roosters Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Smith 13 8 462 10 19.3 626 15 26.1 -164 42% 23%
2011 Smith 11 10 417 14 17.4 500 10 20.8 -83 73% 15%
2010 Smith 6* 14 567 3 22.7 542 12 21.7 25 73% 53%
2009 Fittler 16 5 382 14 15.9 681 16 28.4 -299 20% 21%

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
12 12 3 9 5 2 3 10 3 5 1 2 2 4

2013 Coach: Trent Robinson (replaces Brian Smith)

Gains: James Maloney (NZ Warriors), Sonny Bill Williams (rugby union/boxing), Michael Jennings (Penrith), Michael Oldfield (Manly), Nafe Seluini (Penrith), Samisoni Langi (Canterbury), Sam Moa (Hull FC)

Losses: Braith Anasta (Wests Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Roosters), Joseph BJ Leilua (Knights), Mose Masoe (Panthers), Justin Carney (Castleford), Curtis Rona (North Queensland), Peni Tagive (retirement), Anthony Cherrington (Panthers)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $14   Top 4 $3.75    Miss 8 $2.05    Wooden Spoon $17

Of Note: New Coach; key high profile signings – Maloney, SBW, Jennings, O’Donnell; next generation of talented youth coming through; tough draw?

No doubt you are aware of the changes, signings and goings on at the Roosters as such has certainly dominated the media through the last 3 months!! And if you were a Roosters supporter you’d happily argue for good reason.

They have bought astutely, strengthening key areas of need, personally I think Maloney and Jennings will prove key positional buys. Like him of not SBW is a class individual who will I’m sure win this team many games and have an influence much like Inglis does at the Rabbits. The Roosters also have the benefit of a range of quality youngsters who have been blooded through the last 12 months and look to have a lot of quality play in front of them. In short I think they have a very healthy list.

The new coach comes with many positive raps from his prior time at the club and then his success at Catlans. He has reshaped his coaching staff and I’m sure will be his own man structuring how he wants things done. Hopefully discipline is a key factor in his portfolio, as through the last two years under Smith basic error and discipline has been the major downfall of this side turning numerous opportunities of success into defeat. They also don’t have the easiest of draws, with 5 short 5 day turnarounds and a number of tricky away legs.

It’s now a matter of watch and see. I do think the Roosters will be big improvers, and with the list that they have having been a bottom 6 side for each of the last two years so they should. I expect them to challenge toward the top 8 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them have a very good season – certainly the talents look to be there.

Forecast: Big improvers, can make the top 8.

 

Wests Tigers
Tigers Coach Pos W For # Av. Agn # Av. Diff H A
2012 Sheens 10 11 506 6 21.1 551 12 23.0 -45 0 0
2011 Sheens 4 15 519 5 21.6 430 6 17.9 89 0 0
2010 Sheens 3 15 537 6 22.4 503 8 21.0 34 0 0
2009 Sheens 9 12 558 4 23.3 483 8 20.1 75 0 0

 

2013 Draw

H A IDA T6 B4 T F S/S M 5 6 7 8 9+
8 16 4 10 5 1 7 6 4 2 5 4 1 2

 

2013 Coach: Mick Potter (replaces Tim Sheens)

Gains: Braith Anasta (Roosters), Eddy Pettybourne (South Sydney), Bodene Thompson (Gold Coast Titans), Jack Buchanan (St George Illawarra), James Gavet (Bulldogs)

Losses: Gareth Ellis (Hull), Beau Ryan (Cronulla), Chris Heighington (Cronulla),  Junior Moors (Melbourne), Tom Humble (Penrith), Dane Chisholm (Manly), John Grant (rugby union)

Market Prices: Premiership Title $17   Top 4 $4.50    Miss 8 $1.85    Wooden Spoon $15

Of Note: New Coach; Key exits with Ellis, Heighington and Ryan; Do they have the depth up front?

I see more questions than I do answers with the Wests Tigers. They are the fourth club to have changed their coach, installing Mick Potter off the back of his many years of success in the UK. I rate Ellis as a huge exit, an outstanding forward and leader while they have made limited new acquisitions with Anasta the only one of note.

I’m sure that Potter will influence a new style and pattern of attack, I’d expect with a much tighter control in attack so we’ll need to watch and see the impact of how this unfolds. I’m sure that he’ll be also looking to influence their defensive offering which has been rather loose through recent seasons in particular last yr leaking 23 points a week (and rated 15th).

The Tigers hare a tough draw playing only 8 games at what I consider are traditional home venues (Leichhardt and Campbelltown); they have 7 games with a short 5 or 6 day turn around and at least 4 difficult away legs.

My issue with the Tigers through the last 12 months was the ease with which they were worked over and opened up through their middle, leaving them forever on the back foot and or attempting to play catch up footy. With the loss of Ellis and Heighington they are going to need a number of fringe and or youngsters to really stand up and be counted if they are going to be a finalist contender. I’m sure Potter will bring a fresh approach to their play, and this change could well be just what they needed, and certainly with the class of Farah and Marshall he has much around which to play with but we’ll now just have to wait and see what they offer.

Right now I have the Tigers pegged as a competitor for a bottom 8 spot, but with some competition!

Forecast: Close to making the 8 – but no cigar!

 

Summary

My Top 8 Forecast (in no particular order)

Storm

Rabbits

Knights

Cowboys

Bulldogs

Sharks

Broncos

Roosters

The Contenders

Right now I rate 5 sides (Storm, Rabbits, Knights, Cowboys and Bulldogs) as those with the right credentials to challenge for the final title. Prior to the Bulldogs having been dealt their recent issues with the questionable availability and longer term mindset of Barba I had them marked as the team to beat.  

The Big Improvers

I have two sides marked as major improvers, the Knights (top 6 challengers) and the Roosters (top 8 contenders). Both sides have bought well and have many credentials to now suggest them stepping forward with winning seasons.

The Sliders

My notable slider is the Eagles, who I expect to miss the 8. They have had massive change across their list, have a number aging and likely to be at the wrong end of their career and ongoing injury concerns around key stars. The Dragons didn’t make the 8 in 2012, but I would not be surprised to see them on the slide further down the table as they resolve their coaching and rebuilding program.

At The Bottom

While the Eels and Panthers look a work in progress, continuing to make change with their key staff and or playing lists toward improvement they still look a season or two away from being a mid table and or finals contender. For varying reasons the Dragons and Warriors look short on experience and quality across their playing rosters and I expect are likely to finish somewhere in the bottom 6. I have nominated the Titans as my pick to finish bottom of table, they have had considerable change (mostly exits) across their playing list, look to have questionable depth and will rely on rookie players at 9, 7 and 6 to direct their season, for mine not a winning recipe.

Betting Interests

2013 Pre Season Bet List:

Bulldogs 5 units Premiership Winner $7.50

Knights 7 units Top 4 $3.50

Rabbits 8 units Top 4 $2.50

Eagles 10 units To Miss Top 8 $2.50

Titans 7 units Most Losses (Wooden Spoon) $6.00

 

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NRL – Grand Final – Preview & Betting Advice NRL ...

 

Grand Final Preview NRL 2012 
BULLDOGS v STORM

Homebush  5.15pm Sunday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Bulldogs $1.90 > $2.10 line + 2.5 / Storm $2.00 > $1.75 -2.5

Any market moves: There has been a significant move for the Storm since the markets first opened last weekend with them heavily supported from $2.00 in all week to $1.75 and the market position roles reversed. Should Hawthorn win the AFL GF on Saturday you can then expect the Storm to firm even further on the weight of longer term doubles. If you are looking to play the line dependent on who you wish to play it ranges from 1.5 to 2.5.

And so now the big dance has arrived!

A few facts and figures –

Bulldogs

–          Won their last 10 straight at the ground

–          Won 14 of their last 15 games

–          Won 7 of 8 this season when playing with a plus points start

Storm

–          Won 7 of their last 8 at the ground

–          Won their last 7 straight

–          Won 14 of 24 this season when conceding a minus points start

 

–          Storm have won 9 of the last 12 H2H contests

–          None of their last 6 H2H match ups between these two sides have been at Homebush

–          13 of the last 19 grand final winners have been out ofSydneysides

–          Hasler and Bellamy coached sides have played in 5 of the last 7 grand finals

–          4 of the last 5 GF’s have resulted in a 13+ margin result

–          7 of the last 9 GF winners have lead at half time

Both sides are line ball in attack and defence, the Bulldogs A 23.6 and D 15.3, the Storm A 24.1 and D 15.0.

Both sides should appear as named with no obvious or critical last minute injury issues.

An intriguing matchup with two sides who play very different patterns of attack play. Both sides have come through similar approaches to reach the GF, the Bulldogs through the Eagles then a commanding result over the Rabbits, the Storm a similar result over the Rabbits and then a comfortable enough touch up over the Eagles.

The Bulldogs have a clever mix of play. While not playing the traditional yardage and go forward game style they do have 3 big up front forwards who can carve particular plays as required. Their pet options are while going forward play after play to be pushing sideways across the park with the options of either quick tip on passing plays to the outer edge or quick return passing plays back at where they have come. With the options of Reynolds, Keating and Barba able to link in they have the speed and skill to catch defensive lines short or on the back foot. Alternatively they can crack your line off one of their big men, or in the final 30 metre attack zone look to play variations of their run around and or decoy plays. Although they play with a lot of speed and passing plays they are very well structured and drilled. Barba is the key to the Bulldogs attack, he is a game change, his freakish touches and speed can turn a game on its head in a matter of minutes.

Defensively the Bulldogs right edge has been exposed on a number of occasions, with each Reynolds,Jacksonand Inu being found out. The Storm like to favour their left edge in attack so we’ll see plenty of play targeted down this side. Their big forwards are also susceptible to being worked over (work rate) and run around, then targeted with clever dummy half play in and behind them. I’m sure the Storm will look to use Smith, Slater, Cronk and Widdop with various plays through these channels.

The Storm have looked their structured and disciplined best through recent weeks. All the hallmarks of Bellamy’s game plans are there, high completions (near 82% and 88% their last two games, near faultless), quality long kicking and field position, accurate short options (7 drop outs / repeat sets through their last two games) and a significantly improved defensive effort.  They grind their opponents down with pressure and field position, and more often than not can weather the storm if and when it’s thrown at them.

They have had their moments when taken on physically through the middle, but interestingly here the consistent roll through the middle and work them over approach is not so much how the Bulldogs like to play. Like most they can get caught defensively against the up tempo play and clever ball shits to the edges, notably they have also had some problems on their left defensive outside edge which I’m sure Reynolds and Inu will look to play at.

The kicking tactics and general game of either side will have critical influence on this game. Both sides have brilliant fullbacks with outstanding kick return speed and skill so where and how the ball is placed (field position, on the ground or in the air) will be key. Following the injury to Reynolds last week the next 4 kicks from the Rabbits went to Barba on the full (as opposed to on the ground away from him or in a corner) allowing him reception on the run and additional time to play or set up their play. Keating also made a number of key error s with his kicking game execution last week which were not necessarily capitalised on, a repeat of such errors and the Storm won’t be as kind.

The Bulldogs have had an outstanding year and can win but I have the Storm marked on top for a number of reasons. I think their experience is a significant factor, especially at 9, 7, 6 and 1. I have quoted it before but rarely if ever is a premiership won by a side not led by a representative 7 or 6, the Storm have both on top of which all 4 key position players are current internationals. Kicking game and field position, I think Smith and Cronk have a decided advantage and if the Storm are playing off the back of their low error game then they’ll be spending a lot of game time playing the Bulldogs at their end of the park. Ruck play; Smith is arguably one of the best in today’s game, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of his skill and guile either out of dummy half and or linking with the other 3 to advantage.

Lastly I think the Storm are driven by a deep if not unique hunger. Regardless of what ever spin they have attempted to put on it through the last 18 months Bellamy, Smith, Cronk, Slater and co have endured much (of their own making) to get to this day, from stripped titles to rebuilding their player list to climbing step by step back to title contention. On the back of all of that they faltered in the preliminary final last year where the hurt and anguish was very obvious. I have no knock for the Bulldogs, and they can certainly win, but I think the Storm have an edge in a number of key game areas but in particular in the attitude, drive and hunger stakes.

Storm

Last Word : Tipping the Storm’s clinical, disciplined approach to set the foundation,  also think they have an edge in a few areas and when it maters might well be driven by a unique fire in their belly.

Betting Interest : No need to get to clever, Storm at the line -2.5 and then play a few exotic options of your choice (try scorers, man of the match, etc).

 

Betting Interests

The Storm were nominated here back on the 1st of Feb as our anchor bet for the season at $9 for the title. For those who followed I’d suggest you might save a little on the Bulldogs to cover your outlay and let the rest roll. For anyone looking for additional betting interests I’ve listed the following options.

Anchor Bet – Storm line -1.5 $1.91

Chance your arm – Storm Tri bet Over 6.5 $2.75

But I bleed Blue – Bulldogs H2H $2.10 or Margin 1-12 $3.20

Man Of The Match – Back three players, Cameron Smith $8, Ryan Hoffman $13, James Graham $13

First Try Scorer / Last Try Scorer –  A Winger, Centre of Fullback has been FTS in 7 of last 9 GF’s & LTS in 6 of last 9. Based on that Morris, Barba or Wright for the Bulldogs and or O’Neill, Chambers or Waqa for the Storm.

 

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©Copyright Reading The Play All care taken. No responsibility accepted. Please check all information at your own discretion. Any prices quoted for suggested bets are accurate at the time of writing. For personal use ONLY. This information may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever or re-used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of Reading The Play.

NRL – Finals Week 3 – Preview & Betting A...

Finals Week 3 Preview

Since 1998 50% of the sides with the week off have won, 50% haven’t there is no clear advantage over time. Given their various injury issues every side would have right now they would all rather it than not.

Storm v Eagles

Melbourne: 7.45pm Friday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Storm $1.65 / -3.5 v Eagles  $2.25 /+3.5

Any market moves: Next to no market moves since opening.

What a matchup between two sides with significant finals history. Facts and figures: Storm come off the week rest which given their recent injury issues they would have welcomed, they have won 10 of their last 13 at home, H2H neither side has any recent advantage each winning 5 of the last 10, the Storm are 13 from 23 when conceding the start. The Eagles have only won 2 of their last 9 in Melbourne but have been very good away this season winning 10/16, amongst that they have won all 4 interstate away games. The Eagles have only played with a plus line start 6 times this season, and won 5 of those.

Last met: Round 15 at Brookvale – Storm won 26-22

I have that last encounter pegged as one of the form games of the year, both sides were very good in a quality contest. The Storm looked like they really had a point to prove that night, and did, and then their season went pear shaped losing their next 5 and limping through many weeks with key injury. Their last start win over the Rabbits was back to something like their best (tempered with the fact that the Rabbits were also poor) but they were back into their structured, controlled and disciplined best. With near perfect ball control (highest completion rate of any side this season) and a helpful early run of penalties they opened the Rabbits up early and shot to a comfortable lead from which they never looked back. They are now likely to be further strengthened with the likely returns of Procter, Lowrie and Manu.

The Eagles will be different though. They will offer a far different and committed defensive offering. They also have the size and grunt to take the Storm on through the middle, which the Storm have struggled to match at times this year. The Eagles also have more ball play in their backrow (Stewart and Wamough) and a preparedness to attack either edge as opposed to getting bogged down in a high percentage yardage and field position game. I think this is a key advantage for the Eagles, they have 6 players who step up and or play through the line and can then turn half chances into lengthy line breaks and opportunity.

I think the Storm’s other potential problem is their reliance on one pass forward play when coming off their own end. Opponents with low error play and quality kicking options can then consistently put the Storm back in their own end, with committed defence they can then continually force them into their structured robotic one out play which can be easy to defend and if done well shut them down (this is actually much of what the Storm did to the Rabbits two weeks ago). This is where Smith, Slater and then Cronk to some degree come into play with their ability to change the face of the game with a half chance line break or skillful passing interchange. But if there is any one side that is capable of, and knows how to effectively play the Storm at their own end and defend their options well it is the Eagles.     

This looks a quality, tough tight game. I think the Eagles best through the last 5 or 6 weeks has been the benchmark. They got their game back on track last week and with King and Matai back and at near full strength they’ll be no excuse. Importantly they have the physical aggression and size to take the Storm on. The Storm looked much better last start but this is a far different opponent, they have far less latitude moving forward and a far more physical confrontation through the middle. They have had some problems in defence on both edges, in particular their left, and if Chambers does not play they’ll be further weakened and exposed. But there’s no doubting that with the class and touch of Smith, Staler and Cronk that the Storm are in this contest up to their ears.

I’m tipping the Eagles. It will be tough at this venue but they are very good away and they are rarely off for any big game. I think they have the physical and defensive advantage and off the back of that they’ll have the attack. Eagles.

Last Word: Great game, tough and tight. The Eagles best can be the benchmark, if they take this on through the middle I think they win.

Betting Interest: Very rarely do the Eagles play with line start and they’ve won 5 of the 6 times that they have. I’m happy to take the start as insurance, I think they can win outright.  

 

Bulldogs v Rabbits

Homebush: 7.45pm Saturday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Bulldogs $1.53 / -5.5 v Rabbits $2.50 / -5.5

Any market moves: The Bulldogs have continued to firm throughout the week, H2H now $1.47 (Rabbits out to $2.75) and the line into $.1.80. The line did open at -4.5 in some places and has also push out to -5.5 / -6. I expect that this will continue and they will be heavily bet into the game start. The -5.5 can be found at $1.90.

Facts and figures: Both sides use Homebush as their home ground and both enjoy an outstanding record here, the Bulldogs are 9 wins from their last 11, the Rabbits 10 from their last 11. H2H the Bulldogs hold the advantage winning 7 of the last 10. The Bulldogs have been a good side for punters to work with this year having won 11 of 17 when conceding the start, and they have won at the line 8 of their last 10. The Rabbits are 6 from 10 with plus the line, and a similar 6 from their last 10 at the line.

Last met: Round 13 at Homebush  – Storm won 26-22; Round 6 at Homebush Rabbits won 20-10

Whichever way I look at this game I have the Bulldogs marked to advantage; form line (any winning form through the Eagles stands up), defence ( the Rabbits have had some problems around Taylor and on their outside edge, the Bulldogs on their right edge), attack variation (the Bulldogs tip on plays, in final 30 mtrs variation and decoy plays), attack at the edges, composure and mental approach.

I have a number of concerns about the Rabbits and the form line that they come through. They did all that they had to do in winning well last week but the Raiders turned out to be poor opponents not up to the moment (much like the Rabbits the week prior in Melbourne). The yardage was soft, line breaks common and if we didn’t know better we’d have though that the Rabbits were one of the form sides leading the charge toward the final game. A further concern is their inconsistency across periods of a game, again highlighted against the Raiders, after skipping out to an opening 12-0 lead and having their opponent there for the taking they relaxed, were lazy in defence and invited their opponents back into a 12-10 game. Having already had the Raiders measure they then balanced themselves up and went on with the job but this issue of turning themselves on and off through periods of a game will be well punished if repeated against the Bulldogs.

They have many strengths. Luke has returned to some outstanding form and led the charge last week out of dummy half opening the Raiders up numerous times. The Burgess brothers and Asotasi offer the size a grunt through the middle, Sam in particular has been in outstanding form through the last 4 to 5 weeks. Inglis is the game changer, also in outstanding form.

Regardless of the hype surrounding the Rabbits through this last week (as it was in the week leading up to the Melbourne game) the elephant in the room is their inability to aim up when it matters against the real competition contenders. Their record year to date is very poor and in short they have looked good against the weaker sides, promised much but are yet to deliver against a quality opponent when it matters.

The Bulldogs have been a revelation under Hasler this year. They have the right mix of big forwards, workers, some skill with the ball and play a game style that uses their unorthodox combination at 7 and 6 to advantage. Barba adds speed and freakish skill along with attack and finishing skill of Morris on their left edge. They have won 14 of their last 15 games for a reason.    

I like the Bulldogs. Their form line, their composure and their ability to win. Yes it’s a major final but I still think there’s a gap between these two when it matters under pressure and I again expect that to be the case here. Bulldogs

Last Word: Bulldogs look the more composed performer, I expect them to again aim up and be winning.  

Betting Interest: Happy to play the Bulldogs with any line out to -5.5.

 

Finals Week 3 Bet List

Eagles 3 units line +3.5 $1.90

Bulldogs 4 units line -5.5 $1.90       BEST BET

All up 4 units Eagles line +8.5 $1.46 x Bulldogs H2H $1.48

 

Interests  All bets are listed with – 1) a confidence rating (between 1 and 5, with 5 being he highest) and 2) a staking rating (up to 5 units) For example a bet will be listed as:  Storm 4 units Line -9.5 $1.80. The number 4 represents both the confidence and staking rating (out of 5) for this suggested bet.

Staking  The total weekly bet outlay will vary each week but will be approximately 15 to 25 units. My recommendation is that you 1) settle on a weekly unit dollar outlay that suits your weekly betting bank, and then 2) bet consistently to the listed weekly recommended bets. Best Bets. An additional approach and bank is recommended to bet nominated Best Bets, either with a level stake or with the suggested unit outlay. A more detailed Staking outline and example sheet is available on request, email:  contact@readingtheplay.com

Bet Prices: Nominated beside each bet is the price taken at the time of finalising this information (and will then be used when updating all results). Don’t hesitate to look around and obtain the best possible price and or option of your choice.

Alternative Line or Bet types: A broad range of alternate or pick your own lines or betting types are now available from all betting agencies. I chose to consider all options to suit each game and final betting recommendation, including the use of shorter and or longer lines, margins, tri bet or similar and suggest that members look to do the same so as to potentially frame your bet options to your possible advantage.

Results : Year To Date

All Bets

  2012   Bets   Winners   %   Units Bet   Units Return   Profit / Loss   POT
  YTD   160   69   43.13   554   572.21   18.21   3.29

 

Best Bet

  2012   Bets   Winners   %   Units Bet   Units Return   Profit / Loss   POT
  YTD   30   20   66.67   126   142.23   16.23   12.88

POT = Profit On Turnover

 

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©Copyright Reading The Play  All care taken. No responsibility accepted. Please check all information at your own discretion. Any prices quoted for suggested bets are accurate at the time of writing. For personal use ONLY. This information may not be reproduced in any way whatsoever or re-used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of Reading The Play.

NRL – Finals Week 2 – Preview & Betting A...

Finals Week 2 Preview NRL 2012

Online and SMS Updates

Further to the positive use and feedback last weekend I will be doing a pre game update prior to each finals game through to Grand Final day. It certainly doesn’t appear as a weekend where we will have the various possibilities in play as we did last week but last minute weather and or key injury / outs may well impact in some areas. The online title message of this preview (and its content) will be updated to indicate any new update and a new sms will also be sent out. If you would like to be included in the free sms blast just drop an email request through to contact@readingtheplay.com

Finals Week 2 Bet List

Cowboys 6 units H2H  $1.90       BEST BET

If you are looking for an additional interest around the Cowboys I would suggest a spec at the tri bet over 6.5 (around the $3 mark). I will wait until Saturday to finalise but at this stage I won’t be recommending any bet options into the Rabbits v Raiders game.

Eagles v Cowboys

SFS / Moore Park: 7.45pm Friday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Eagles $1.88 / -1.5 v Cowboys  $1.95 /+1.5

Any market moves: Numerous moves in and out for both on the back of negative or positive speculation surrounding various Eagles injury issues. I expect the Cowboys price to firm through the hours leading into the game.

Fourth plays fifth. Facts and figures: Eagles come off their 6 point loss to 1st placed Bulldogs having won their prior 6 straight. They have won their last 4 at the ground and 4 of their last 5 H2H, they are 9 from 19 when conceding the start. The Cowboys have won 2 of their last 3 at the ground, have won 7 from 12 on the road this season and have enjoyed a positive record when with the + line start winning 7 of 11.

The key issue with this game is the various injury issues surrounding the Eagles and their likely final line up. Matai is an out, Lyon highly unlikely (my info remains that he will not play) Tony Williams, Glenn Stewart, Watmough and Galuvao are all carrying injuries out of last or prior weeks (as would many for all sides at this time of the year), each are expected to play but their performance may well be hampered to some degree. The Cowboys have lost Payne but are lucky to have a suitable replacement in Segeyaro.

The likely out of Lyon and loss of Matai and David Williams (season ending injury) will leave the Eagles with two reshuffled edges whichever way Toovey chooses to go which will impact on the effectiveness of their edge attack but critically leave them very venerable in defence. One of the Cowboys key strengths is the quality, combination and finishing skills of either edge in attack, at various time this year they have lead the competition for line breaks and tries on either the right or then the left sides. With Thurston and Bowen’s ability read, direction and link of their play so effectively to either edge (as they did again in dismantling the Broncos last week) the Cowboys should be playing this to their advantage.

I’m sure the Eagles will improve, they lacked composure and patience in trying to play too tough last week and offered one of their poorer performances of recent months. Cherry Evans was ordinary, Foran quite, Whare exposed; they are far better than this but a) can they get the job done across 80 mins given the various injury issues they are dealing with and b) effectively defend their edges?

The Cowboys will also play this differently through the middle which should be to their advantage. They have two big international  front rowers in Scott and Tamou and like to plough forward and play direct to provide them room off which to play. A physical game through the middle might not necessarily be what the Eagles want right now.

The Cowboys hold the aces. They’ll need some patience and composure, they’ll also need to play physically through the middle. If they do Thurston and Bowen have the guile and skill to capitalise and they should then do the business via their edges. Cowboys

Last Word: Cowboys can win. It won’t be a walk in the park as the Eagles are a quality side and will improve, but this looks the week where they are right up against it. Keen on Cowboys.

Betting Interest: No need to get to fancy, back the Cowboys H2H. If you wish you could spec them with the tri bet option over 6.5 (around $3).  

 

Rabbits v Raiders

Homebush: 7.45pm Saturday

Opening Pricing and Lines – Rabbits $1.53 / -6.5 v Raiders $2.50 / +6.5

Any market moves: Rabbits have continued to firm all week, $1.53 > $1.43. The Raiders have blown to $2.90.

Facts and figures: The Rabbits are at their best at Homebush, they’ve won 9 of their last 10 here. H2H they have won the last 3 but lost the prior 4. The Rabbits have been good when conceding the start, they are 9 from 14 with most of those games against lower placed sides where they have consistently won. The Raiders away record has been good this yr, 7 from 12, they have a 50% record at the ground (across their last 10 games), they are 11 from 18 when with the plus start but interestingly they have won their last 5 straight with the start.

Both sides lose their left centre, King for the Rabbits and Croker for the Raiders. Both are notable outs but Croker is critical for the Raiders given his points scoring record (both tries and goals).

Whichever way we dice it the Rabbits were very poor last week. Yes they were on the wrong side of the early penalty count (5-1 against) but they were also their own worst enemy with some basic errors and ordinary edge defensive reads. But, once again when facing up to a credentialed contender they again fell well short as they had done recently against the Sharks and Eagles. The concern now has to be how they mentally handle things and the pressure moving forward.

As the side finishing 3rd with a near impeccable record at the ground they should be the $1.40 favs, and on their best they should be winning but this might not be straight forward. They need quality disciplined efforts from Luke and Taylor; Reynolds and Sutton need to play more direct and stand up amongst the semi final pressure and clearly they need a very strong game from Inglis. Some ball play from Sam Burges, Luke and or off Taylor will also help their cause as last week when under the pump they fell into a very pedestrian single pass game that became easy to defend.

The Raiders have a sizeable forward offering so the battle through the middle will be interesting. They’ve relied on a simple game plan through recent months of working forward with little second phase or offload play to then allow McCrone (right), Williams (left) or Dugan some room to play to either edge.

The Raiders will also benefit from the lack of pressure and expectation. They are now not expected to win, a finals position (and home finals win) is beyond what anyone would have thought and will now be applauded whenever it comes to an end. And right now off the back of their winning run they have some belief. They are certainly a momentum and confidence team (v Storm, Bulldogs, first half last week) but they to can quickly fall apart (first half v Warriors, 15 minute period through the second half last week). If they can start well here and or get some early points things could get very interesting.

The games there for the Rabbits to lose. They come through a far stronger form line, return home, are at near full strength and have some quality game winners in Burgess and Inglis. We keep expecting the Rabbits to deliver in these big games, as yet they haven’t, this week there’s no second chance. Tipping the Rabbits but I’m not convinced that it’s straight forward. Rabbits

Last Word: Rabbits should bounce up, but rolled gold long odds on good things they are not.  

Betting Interest: The Rabbits have faltered the last 3 times when expected to aim up, now is not the time to step in.

 

Interests

All bets are listed with –

1) a confidence rating (between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest) and

2) a staking rating (up to 5 units)

For example a bet will be listed as:  Storm 4 units Line -9.5 $1.80

The number 4 represents both the confidence and staking rating (out of 5) for this suggested bet.

Staking

The total weekly bet outlay will vary each week but will be approximately 15 to 25 units. My recommendation is that you 1) settle on a weekly unit dollar outlay that suits your weekly betting bank, and then 2) bet consistently to the listed weekly recommended bets. Best Bets. An additional approach and bank is recommended to bet nominated Best Bets, either with a level stake or with the suggested unit outlay. A more detailed Staking outline and example sheet is available on request, email:  contact@readingtheplay.com

Finals Week 2 Bet List

Cowboys 6 units H2H  $1.90       BEST BET

If you are looking for an additional interest around the Cowboys I would suggest a spec at the tri bet over 6.5 (around the $3 mark). I will wait until Saturday to finalise but at this stage I won’t be recommending any bet options into the Rabbits v Raiders game.

Bet Prices: Nominated beside each bet is the price taken at the time of finalising this information (and will then be used when updating all results). Don’t hesitate to look around and obtain the best possible price and or option of your choice.

Alternative Line or Bet types: A broad range of alternate or pick your own lines or betting types are now available from all betting agencies. I chose to consider all options to suit each game and final betting recommendation, including the use of shorter and or longer lines, margins, tri bet or similar and suggest that members look to do the same so as to potentially frame your bet options to your possible advantage.

 

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