A week is a long time in footy. This time last week, I was talking about how good the game was going and the extremely close results across the entirety of round 19. Fast forward seven days and the average margin of victory went from 6.63 points to 25.13 points in round 20. The total victory margin of round 19 (53) was eclipsed in just the first two games last weekend (58). The fans want to see tries scored but more than that, they want to see a contest and six teams scoring in single figures was not good enough. It made for some horrible games for the neutrals. Thank CP13 for SuperCoach or we would have had no reason to watch at all.
Speaking of SuperCoach and Captains, the much-debated “Turbo-or-Teddy” was definitively answered. Punters gained an extra 107 points from putting the C on Teddy instead of Turbo. As one very wise lady once said, “Why wouldn’t everyone captain Tedesco against the Titans?” Why indeed. Let’s take a look at round 21.
Anthony Milford vs Kotoni Staggs – Previous Scores – 16 vs 51 – Position Averages – 55.37 vs 52.37
I’m doing it this way because there was a lengthy discussion this week between Wenin and Catfish about the pros and cons of each guy. You should have seen it. They’re like an old married couple sometimes. Broncos fans, man. Anyway, let’s compare for ourselves.
In the first meeting of these teams, in round 2, Milford had 51 points whilst playing 5/8. This is tough because he no longer plays there so it’s hard to say how he would have gone. FWIW, Boyd had 52 that day. Staggs scored 40 points, however, he did it in only 19 minutes from the bench, scoring a try assist to help. Again, he’s in a different position now and starting. The right centre at the time, James Roberts, had 75 on that day. Point Staggs, IMO.
That game is one of two that Staggs has ever played against the Cowboys, the other being last year’s round 22 loss. He scored 0 that day. NRL.com has him as suiting up but not actually registering any minutes so I’m not sure he ever got on. Milford has played them 12 times for an average of 63. His lowest score (19) is just one point behind Staggs supposed average. Clearly, point Milford.
The positional average as listed above is obviously in Milford’s favour, however, if you restrict that to just the past 3 and 5 rounds, it swings back drastically. Fullbacks from the Tigers, Sharks, Rabbits, Roosters and Dragons have scored 44.67 (3RA) and 54.4 (5RA) against the Cowboys recently. Compared to 65.34 (3RA) and 67.8 (5RA) for right centres. Point Staggs.
In a similar vein, current form for the two guys is drastically different. Milford has recent scores of 16, 87, 44, 80 and 42 whilst Staggs form line reads 51, 93, 104, 43 and 51. You could argue that Staggs goal kicking has been propping him up, but in those two big games, he scored -2 and +4 from goals respectively. Point Staggs.
Make whatever you want of all this. I’m just putting it out there for observation.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – 48 – Position Average – 51.74
I’m not sure I can go past Turbo this week, and with the game on Friday afternoon, I don’t have to. He makes a perfect VC candidate. Forget that New Zealand sits right at midrange for opposition fullback scores. Forget the 5RA of 55 for fullbacks against them (with 80’s from Gutho and Milf in there mind you). And forget that Turbo hasn’t been scoring as well away from home this year. What you need to remember is that after suffering a preseason hamstring injury, Turbo returned in round 3, against the Warriors, in New Zealand (a Manly home game but played in Christchurch). He scored 152 that day. This week? Against the Warriors, in New Zealand. Turbo also has scores of 36, 81, 98, 86 and 57 on the Dubs.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 86 – Position Average – 42.11
Trent Copeland LOVES pointing out how ridiculous people were for turfing SJ after his bad game where he scored just 20 and got benched. I think we get a message about every time he does some SJ-type thing on the field. And he’s doing plenty of that at the moment. Since that game, SJ has gone on to score 98 (the very next week), 52, 108 and 86. It seems he’s finally settled into his new team and playing how we all expected him to. Funnily enough, one of his few good games to start the year came against the Panthers in round 6 when he had 82 points. He’s also had scores of 112, 17 (his best and worst scores of 2018), 64, 38, 95 and 73 against them in the past few years. Penrith is ranked 2nd worst to score on for right halves, but have let Cogger (85) and Sezer (69) do well the past two games.
Cam McInnes – Previous Score – 71 – Position Average – 55.84
A 5RA of 76 is good by anyone’s standards and McInnes is making it look easy every week. In fact, in the six weeks since he was injured McInnes lowest score is 59. He also has a 66.8 point average against the Titans, which swings between 30-40 points scores and tons. He’s a far more consistent player this year and should see a minimum score of 65 once again. The only concern is that the Dragons pull away so much that McInnes isn’t needed to get through his usual workload. But it’s the Dragons so that probably won’t happen.
David Klemmer – Previous Score – 62 – Position Average – 59.13
Here it is. The one constant in the Newcastle Knights season. Apart from the minor inconvenience of a fractured wrist that kept him out all of two games, Klem has been knocking out 55+ games on the regular. He only has two games this year under that mark, and only by a couple of points. Parramatta are easiest to score on from prop and combined with Klemmer’s consistency and the fact that Newcastle needs it’s biggest (by size) superstar to lead from the front line, Klemmer should be as safe an option as there is this week.
Josh Papalii – Previous Score – 91 – Position Average – 55.39
It might be just me, but I don’t see Papalii getting much respect this year. All the prop talk has been for Haas, Klemmer, Fifita, Taupau, AFB and JFH however Papa is averaging 61.1 on the season which puts him just behind those names as the 8th highest FRF. More impressive though is his current form in and around Origin. He has a 5RA of 72.4, which jumps him to 4th best in that category behind just Haas, JFH and (surprisingly) Matt Lodge. While this week’s matchup with the Roosters is a difficult one on paper, they’re actually the 2nd best team for front-rowers to score on this year at over 55 PPG and Papalii had 86 on them earlier this year. He had 73 and 101 on the Chooks over the past few seasons too. Everything is set up nicely for Papa.
Josh Dugan – Previous Score – 62 – Position Average – 47.11
If for some unknown reason, you’ve got Josh Dugan stashed away somewhere then this may be the week to give him a guernsey. He plays the Friday night which makes that a manageable risk. He gets to return to the fullback spot with Moylan missing this weekend. Last time Duges was in the #1 he put 85 on the Cowboys, but who doesn’t? Am I right JT? Duges also loves playing the Panthers. The past five seasons, he’s scored 49, 105, 103, 62 and then he had 80 in round 6. BUT, VC only, please. And then maybe only for the draft players.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 43 – Position Average – 56.16
You probably won’t believe me when I tell you I looked hard for someone other than Ponga to include here but it’s true. His last game and Newcastle’s form as a whole have me spooked to be perfectly honest. I’m very much not enjoying watching them play football for 15 minutes and then quit on the game. I’m not sure what the problem is, but that’s beside the point. I’m just venting now. The Eels give up the 5th most points to fullbacks this season, and the most to a SuperCoach relevant fullback this week (does anyone have Corey Norman, Corey Thompson, Alexander Brimson or Scott Drinkwater?). Speaking of Norman, Parra kept him to 45 points last week. Before that, fullbacks had scored 88, 106, 65 and 88 on them. Even Darius Boyd had 52 points just before that run, so there’s definitely points there. And Ponga scored 64 on them in round 7, to jumpstart the Knights season at that point. One thing going against Ponga is that he’s lost the kicking now to Mason Lino, but that’s only important if they can score a try first.
Corey Harawira-Naera – Previous Score – 67 – Position Average – 56.68
What a year it’s been for CHN. Came to a new club and cemented himself in the starting side with a 61 average. And he’s been pretty good lately with back-to-back 67’s and a 93 in his 5RA (around a couple 30’s). The good news is that Wests are one of the easier sides to score on from the left side, ranking fourth. Which makes it likely that CHN adds to his 65 point average he holds against the merger club. All this sounds relatively good right? But he still plays for Dean Pay and the Dogs, so that makes this a risk.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Previous Score – 38 – Position Average – 47.47
I had a dream RTS was available in the CTW. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Anyway, a tough matchup with Manly awaits this weekend, and they just kept Ponga to 43 with a try. They’re 10th hardest to score on this season and if anything, they’re getting harder to score on as the year goes by. Adding to that Ponga score, the previous four fullbacks to play them scored 47, 49, 15 and 24. All of those are 80 minute games. RTS actually has a 78 point average on Manly since 2015, but that’s largely because of a 145 game he had in 2015 as a Rooster. Since then, he’s had 30, 83, 63 and then 69 from this season. I don’t think he’ll be awful, but if I’m captaining or vice-captaining a fullback in this game, it won’t be the Jolly Roger. I am looking forward to the fullback battle though.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – 48 – Position Average – 52.58
I was always holding onto Fifita. On his day, he’s the best SuperCoach front rower going (maybe second to Haas). But coming back and being relegated to the bench is far from ideal. Fifi still played 40 minutes and scored an impressive (for the time limit) 48 points. The problem is, he’s just been limited to that time/score and what’s worse, they won the game, so there’s no need to make any changes to that formula. Fifi’s best game of the year came against Penrith in round 6, a 106 point explosion. I’d love to see it again but you can’t go near him while on the bench. Of course, if Morris makes any pregame adjustments to the lineup, this changes a little. But still, best to avoid.
Ryan Matterson – Previous Score – 57 – Position Average – 54.74
It might be time to put the “Doggies are easy” storylines to bed. They may not be winning a lot of games but they’re not making life easy on opposing SuperCoach players. For instance, they rank 10th on the season at scores allowed to locks. The last two weeks have proven to boost that stat (Yeo 70 and Radley 98), but the three #13’s before that scored 32, 34 and 39. Making matters worse (no pun intended) is that Matterson has scored either 55, 56 or 57 in the last four games he’s played. It’s crazy consistency but not captainable. He did have a 71 when he met these guys earlier this season, but that was way back in round 3.
Daly Cherry-Evans – Previous Score – 112 – Position Average – 54.37
Man, this dude dismantled my team last week. If I didn’t have him in my draft side I’d be really P-O’d. It gave him a 5RA of 77.4 with a low of 54. NZ is the 2nd easiest to score on for right halves and when DCE played them in round 3, he was the game’s high scorer with 156.
Gareth Widdop – Previous Score – 6 – Position Average – 60.47
Widdop was AWFUL last week. He made 11 tackles and ran just three times, and still only scored 6 points. It’s pretty impressive really. Maybe Gold Coast can get him back in form. He scored 173 on them last year.
Jai Arrow – Previous Score – DNP (injured) – Position Average – 54.58
HE’S BACK!!! About Damn Time.
Mitchell Moses – Previous Score – 46 – Position Average – 48.58
I’m mentioning him because I know some are considering this out there play. He put 46 on the (then) 5th easiest side to score on, and now plays the Knights who were 5th hardest last week, but gave up 112 to DCE. Moses had 27 on them in round 7.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – 155 – Position Average – 47.42
That score ♥. I’m wary of Teddy against a strong Canberra side this weekend but can not, and will not, put him as an avoid. He now has a 3RA of 116.33 and a 74.33 average on Canberra since 2015, including 118 points when these sides met in round 9.
Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 80 – Position Average – 45.84
Crichton looked good last week, but all the Chooks did so maybe take his score with a grain of salt. Starting on the edge again in Cordner’s absence and had 41 against the Raiders in round 9.
Damien Cook – Previous Score – 91 – Position Average – 48.37
Melbourne is still the hardest side to score on, but Segeyaro had 62 on them last week in that game of the year contender. Cook also scored 110 on the Storm in their only matchup of 2018.
By now, you guys would be well-aware of the NPR drama I’ve been having. Well, I’m happy to report that I finally won a round. Playing all of Keary, Tevaga, Taupau, Murray and SJ over the likes of Nofo, Matto and Fifita turned out to be a huge win. And captaining Teddy instead of Turbo was the icing on the cake. It was a good week.
So, I want to ride it out again. I’ve already stated that I’ll be on Turbo this weekend. I wish it could be as a VC but looking down my listed players, the next guy I have after the VC section is Andrew Fifita, who I’m avoiding. So I either take a stab at one of my “Others” or I go with a Staggs, Haas or Lolo on Thursday and straight C Turbo. That might be the play.
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. And a quick side note, keep an eye out for an NFL piece dropping in the next couple of weeks. It’s almost time.