At the risk of losing readers because I’m talking about the Knights again, how about the brouhaha on Friday night. It was a throwback to the old days when big fella’s vented their frustrations at each other on the field. The end result was four players getting a 10-minute break and plenty of SuperCoaches cursing out (the only relevant player) Sam Burgess. The incident cost him 8 points plus whatever he would have scored in the time he missed. Luckily, he crossed the stripe late to salvage a decent game.
Other than that, we had another round of decent captain scores littered amongst the many (MANY) disappointing scores. It was mostly the Origin reps who failed to live up to our lofty standards for them. First off, Klemmer broke his wrist. Then Ponga and Latrell didn’t even show up. Munster, Cook, Murray, Arrow, Teddy, Cleary etc were well down on their best. And then there’s Gutho, who woke up on Sunday morning to start preparing for his game against the Sharks.
On the other side of the coin, Fifita had a huge first half as he crossed for a try. Bateman continued doing what he does with another 80 point game. Taupau and Jurbo carried Manly to a hard-fought win. Kikau exploded back into some form. Meanwhile, video has been released of our very own JT after watching Lolo pump out another huge captain’s knock.
Similarly to Damian Cook last season, there’s a very real case to be made for just throwing the captaincy on Jason Taumalolo every week for the rest of the season (except round 16 obviously). With that in mind, I won’t mention him too many more times in this article unless something drastic stands out to me. I’ll spend my time looking for alternative options, should you need or want to use them. Let’s check out round 14.
Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks
First of all, this game should be a cracker on Thursday night. For SuperCoach, it’s a shame it’s so early in the weekend as Fifi and Bateman are great Captain choices but it’s a bit of a risk to burn the VC on them. Not the worst option though as both guys have shown the ability to go large on their day. Then you’ve got Bronson Xerri, who is in ripping form at the moment. Rapana, Moylan and SJ can go huge too but have very big question marks over them for various reasons. And don’t even get me started on Croker, that jerk. There’s a ton of SuperCoach relevancy in this game, but for me, I’m kind of avoiding captain’s in this one. I’m just looking forward to sitting down with a Welders Dog and enjoying a quality football game.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Previous Score – 28 – Position Average – 50.1
I know RTS had a shocker in round 13, but I’m willing to overlook that and give him another shot. Coming into last week, the Storm were allowing only 39.6 PPG to fullbacks, the least in the NRL. Then the game itself was cold and wet, and Melbourne were clinical once again so it’s no surprise Roger scored so poorly. But the Warriors get to face off against Gold Coast as they look to head into the representative break on a high. The Titans are much less stingy than the Storm, allowing 50 PPG to fullbacks, although that average wasn’t helped much by Darius Boyd’s Sleeping Tiger defense. And while RTS’s current form is faltering, his scores against the Coast are quite frankly amazing. He has averaged 82.8 PPG from his past six games against them, including a 130 last season. So, that huge BE of his may be irrelevant after all.
Ryan Matterson – Previous Score – 78 – Position Average – 65.7
Matto just had a game where he racked up where he scored 78 points and the only scores that came from any attacking stats were 1 tackle break (2 points) and 1 ineffective offload (2). 74 points of his score was from pure base stats. That’s an unbelievable effort, but maybe not so surprising since the Tigers lost 28-0. Point is, with this sort of base underneath him, imagine the kind of score the man could notch with a few attacking stats thrown in. It might resemble the 111 point game he had against Penrith in round 9 when he scored a double. Playing into his favour is that the Cowboys are one of the better teams to play against for a right side backrower. They rank first in points allowed to the spot.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – N/A – Position Average – 38.7
Looking to find you another solid VC this week is proving difficult so I’ve drifted over into the Saturday slate and what is potentially the game of the round. We all know Ponga was tearing up the competition leading up to Origin. He has a 5RA of 94.8, including two tons plus another one in SOO1. He’s on all sorts of fire. And I know I just mentioned above how stingy the Storm are against fullbacks, but they were just as hard to score on last year when KP managed to score 65 and 117 on them. As an aside, Melbourne also gave up a 70 point game to Ken Maumalo last week and allow the second most points to left-wingers in 2019, the same side that Ponga loves drifting across to and throwing a cutout to Edrick Lee. Even if Ponga is subdued by the strong defence, the potential is still there for a great score.
Cam Smith – Previous Score – 81 – Position Average – 45.5
Like a fine wine, Cam Smith just keeps proving his quality in this game, or some such idiom like that. It was another masterclass from the Melbourne skipper as he took the reins on the win while the Storm Origin reps played their second game of the week. Smith has a good record on my Knights too. His career average against them is 73 points, however, we all know that my boys haven’t been the strongest of opponent’s in recent years. In the two or so years when Newcastle have improved though, Smith still scored 99, 74 and 71. The Knights this year are one of the harder teams for hookers to score against but Smith is just consistent and solid. He’ll at least give you a nice safe score.
Damian Cook – Previous Score – 26 – Position Average – 52.9
Don’t get yourself all worked up about last week’s score. Yes, it was terrible but it came two nights after Origin so there was always going to be a fatigue factor in play. Before that 26 points, Cook’s lowest score this year was 54. He’d also put together four 100+ games, three of which came in his last five games. So I very much think we can trust that he’ll be ok going forward. The Panthers are middle of the pack when it comes to rakes scoring but Vic Radley and Sam Verrils both managed a decent score in a heavy loss last weekend. Cook’s modest returns against Penrith have resulted in a 55 point average across his four career games. His high score of 81 came last season. I say he tops it.
Jake Trbojevic – Previous Score – 70 – Position Average – 46.1
Imagine playing a tough Origin game and then having to back it up against the man-beast that it Jason Taumalolo. But that’s exactly what Jurbo did and he did it admirably. He played 80 minutes and scored 70 points, 95% of which was from base stats. Remarkably, the man was accredited with 50 tackles. He’s a machine. The Dragons were a tough team to score against before Adam Elliot stunk it up. But before that, Gallen and Glasby scored 71 and 57 on them, so there are definitely points to be had. He should improve on the 54 he scored on them in round 6. He also had 59, 98, 51 and 60 from the four times he played them before that.
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Viliame Kikau – Previous Score – 111 – Position Average – 51.4
I don’t want to just jump aboard the Kikau bandwagon based on one game where he scored his first career double, and yet here we are. Truth is, the man looked phenomenal. He was every bit the beast we were all expecting him to be heading into this season before injuries cruelled him. It’s not just the ton that has me looking towards Kickers this week, but the fact he had 88 on the Bunnies in round 7. It was his second best game of the season behind last weeks, and both the Bunnies and Roosters are allowing very similar averages to left side 2RF’s at over 50 per game. I’m not saying he’ll score a double again, but I like the chances of a follow-up score against a team that allows points and will be missing both Sam and Tom Burgess.
Cody Walker – Previous Score – N/A – Position Average – 59.9
It can only be described as one of Origin’s worst debuts. Cody never got into the game. Even when NSW was on the front foot in the first 40 minutes, Cody was virtually unsighted. It’s for that reason, his subsequent benching and criticism that I’m expecting a fired up Walker looking to take out some lingering frustrations on the Penrith Panthers, who have given up the third most points Walker’s spot this year. It would continue a run of fantastic games against them as he’s previously had 100, 106, 67, 59 and then a 99 from that round 7 game.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – 60 – Position Average – 55.4
There’s been a fair bit of conjecture about Teddy’s status for this week’s game. FWIW, I understood Robbo’s comments to mean that Latrell and Crichton would rest last week; Teddy and Cordner will rest after SOO3. So I’m not really worried about him missing out. And good thing too, because on the back of three straight losses for the Chooks, there’s going to be a massacre of the Puppies on Sunday afternoon. Teddy’s last five outings on the Dogs have seen returns of 77, 113, 73, 66 and 56, Canterbury are a top 5 side in points allowed to fullbacks and Matt Dufty just put 69 points on them last Monday. I’m not going to say much more than that.
Esan Marsters – Previous Score – 37 – Position Average – 48
I said on the SC Report last week that I didn’t think Esan was a R16 must have. How did he respond to my scathing criticism? 37 measly points. I feel pretty justified in that call after just one week. And again, it was a bloodbath against his side but he’s still not even getting the work we’ve grown accustomed to from him. He now had a 29, 48 and 37 in his last five games which has a try in there too. His other games of 70 and 68 involved three tries and a bunch of goal kicks. I’m becoming less and less of a fan as the season wears on.
Mitchell Pearce – Previous Score – 30 – Position Average – 43.1
As JT mentioned in his weekend wrap, this game was always coming for Pearce. There was just no possible way he was going to keep scoring at a 90+ rate, especially considering his season best averages previously are 66 and 62. And while the Bunnies are the third hardest side for left dominant halves to score on, Melbourne are only a touch easier at fourth right now. Then in the past five years, Pearce has only two scores above 60 against the Storm; a 63 and an 86. I’m hoping he was just missing his running mate in Ponga last weekend, but I’d not be going anywhere near him with that armband this week.
James Fisher-Harris – Previous Score – 48 – Position Average – 47.5
In what has become a worrying trend of me recommending a player, only to have them crash and burn, I managed to curse JFH in round 13. It was a late pre=game shuffle, but JFH got shifted to prop, with Martin coming off the bench to start at lock. As a result, his workrate was way down on what he has been providing over the first half of the season, scoring just 48 points in 70 minutes. And when the teams dropped on Tuesday afternoon, it’s the same Panthers lineup. I mean, why tinker with what works right? They did just beat the reigning premiers. Even still, I would be very concerned being an owner and seeing JFH in the #10 again.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – N/A – Position Average – 41.1
I had a dream in which SJ scored a try on his return. So, there’s that.
Bryce Cartwright – Previous Score – N/A – Position Average – 54.5
The Carty Party gets promoted to the starting side again. That should provide a shot in the arm for the Titans.
Cam Munster – Previous Score – 40 – Position Average – 39
Munster’s last five games are (in order of most recent to least) 40, 44, 45, 159, 46. It’s a worrying sign for one of the games best (and only) 5/8 options. He did have a 63 in SOO1 though.
Cam Murray – Previous Score – 34 – Position Average – 50.9
Like his running mate Cook, Muzz had a post-Origin shocker. But I’ll forgive and forget since his game prior was for 120. He had 82 on the Panthers in round 7.
Anthony Milford – Previous Score – 71 – Position Average – 64.8
Am I really looking at him again? It appears so after back-to-back 70’s and a six-game average of 73.5 against Parra. One of those six games was last year and for only 39, so beware.
Daly Cherry-Evans – Previous Score – 50 – Position Average – 51.6
DCE was on fire before his injury and that includes a 91 when these teams met in round 6. The ankle looks good again so there are no worries there. He also posted a 57 in SOO1.
Paul Vaughan – Previous Score – 55 – Position Average – 55.1
Vaughan is humming along at a 60 average and increases that to 65 against the Eagles with previous games of 59, 65, 84 and 73 since he joined the Dragons.
A score of 1,058 saw me continue to rise the ranks this week, and it was lead by the big Tongan himself. I can only imagine how upsetting it is to watch Lolo at the moment as a non-owner. It’s not something I would be inflicting upon myself.
For my leadership group this weekend, I will be seriously considering a Teddy cap over Lolo. If that’s the decision, then I’m planting the VC on Ponga to see if he can continue his run against his toughest opponent of the year. I’ll be eagerly watching this game anyway.
As always, you can ask me any follow-ups in the comments below and hopefully I’ll be able to help some more. Good luck.