It’s the penultimate round of what has been a very long and exhausting SuperCoach season. Much of the comp are either on holidays, recovering from Mad Monday celebrations, or gearing up for their Preliminary Finals this weekend. For overall players in the hunt, the stress is getting very real. Good luck to all of you. I am nowhere near that so my plan is to try to enjoy the next couple of weekends of football for what it is.
At the very top of my list of “must watch” games this week is the Saturday afternoon blockbuster between Manly and Melbourne. The first installment of this affair was a serious contender for “game of the year” with Manly stealing home in a golden point shootout. It’s funny. I don’t like either of these NRL clubs, but the game and SuperCoach implications are huge and I cannot wait to sit down for this one. I only hope that the sequel lives up to the hype I’ve created for it in my own head. At the other end of the spectrum is probably the Knights v Titans game. But the less said about that, the better.
Jason Taumalolo – Previous Scores – 103 – Position Averages – 56.73
I know. I know. I haven’t been mentioning Lolo because he’s an every week option. But then, he hasn’t really been lately, even to the point that he missed a week through injury. He’s still managing that but he was also managing it last week when he scored a ton, and Wacko has confirmed Lolo to be a certain starter against the Bulldogs. The Dogs have really stepped up at the back end of the season, and are now in that “mathematically can still make finals” discussion. They’ll be continuing to push hard for a stunning postseason appearance and hope other results go their way. Considering their start to the year, it’s no surprise that they’re the 4th easiest side for locks to score on, but even during the revival the scores have kept coming. The last five locks to face them have scored 77.4 PPG. Lolo himself has averaged 82.5 points against Canterbury since 2015. It’s worth the shot.
Cody Walker – Previous Score – 60 – Position Average – 56.55
It seems so long ago that Cody Walker was single handedly winning SuperCoach competitions. Back when he was though, he pumped out a huge 150 against this week’s opponent’s, the Warriors. The game included four tries of his own and another he assisted on. Pretty remarkable. It’s not likely to happen that way again but never say never. He also has games of 44, 80, 90 and 61 on the Kiwi club in his career, who are ranked 2nd this year for scores to left side halves. It was only two weeks ago that Luke Keary scored 93 on them. Let’s just gloss over Chad Townsend’s SuperCoach irrelevant 49 last week though, shall we?
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Previous Score – 74 – Position Average – 44.59
Speaking of the Warriors, if you’re still running with RTS in the fullback slot for some reason (maybe you ran out of trades before you could trade in Turbo or Teddy), then you may as well take a look at him for the VC. Why not? He’s there. He’s capable. There are definitely worse options. Even with the Rabbits being the 2nd hardest side for fullbacks. But just look at the last five scores and scorers: 32 (Milford), 52 (DWZ), 29 (Hynes – Mel), 29 (Moylan) and 35 (Norman). Not exactly a gun group. To be fair, they’ve been really tough to score on from the back (heh heh) all season. The highest score they’ve allowed a fullback to have on them was 89, by RTS. It’s not his only solid game on them either. He’s also had 38, 65, 115, 87 and 50 in recent years.
Payne Haas – Previous Score – 65 – Position Average – 58.73
Yep, I’m going with Major Payne again this week. And now it’s not just because he’s on a SuperCoach hot streak, with his 5RA at 78.8 PPG. It’s not even because he torched the Eels in the round 14 encounter to the tune of 76 points. But it’s because Parramatta are allowing more points to props than any other team in 2019. Just in the past three games, Aiden Tolman (57), Moeaki Fotuaika (65) and David Klemmer (70) have all produced very strong outings for a front rower. It’s all of these factors that have me licking my lips at the prospect of the Haas man breaking out another ton. But, it’s still a Friday night game (surprisingly) so don’t get caught out with your VC.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – 134 – Position Average – 46.41
It’s not even fair any more. Teddy is just a freak. I think that he will be a staple here over the next two weekends, considering he’s actually playing of course. The Roosters have now locked up a top 2 finish so the risk of an early end to the season is on for our stud fullback, but with the battle for the minor premiership still very much up in the air, I hope the Chooks run out at full strength. Let’s go back to post-origin. From round 18, Teddy has now scored 95, 99, 155, 82, 100 and 134. I didn’t actually watch the game but I enjoyed every second of it, watching his score tick over in double time as my skipper. I’m not even worried that the Panthers allow just the 13th best average to fullbacks because Teddy isn’t any other fullback.
Cam McInnes – Previous Score – 69 – Position Average – 54.09
The Dragons are awful, so it’s really hard to be impressed with any player in their side, yet McInnes has continually produced high quality. His 5RA is sitting at 73.2, behind only Victor Radley (who’s playing lock), Damien Cook and Cam Smith in that statistic from the hooking position. Wests, who absolutely embarrassed a woeful Knights side (f***ing quitters), are relatively decent to score on as a rake. They’re ranked 6th in that stat and have allowed just over 56 PPG in their last 5 games. And as crazy as it seems in round 24, this is the first meeting of the teams in 2019. Last year though, McInnes scored 71 and 87 on them and considering his formline this year, I expect that to repeat on Sunday.
Michael Morgan – Previous Score – 41 – Position Average – 47.91
Vice-captain risky, since Morgo plays game 1 of round 24. And really, I’m only looking at this for our JT. I wonder if he will still straight captain the guy when he plays so early on. And against the Dogs who are the 10th side in scoring to right halves. They’re even harder lately, allowing a high of 54 in the past five weeks and an average of 39.4. But, it gets way better for the guy when you look at his past scores. He scored 62 on them in round 7 this year. Last year he had 73, and before that he had 102, 57, 74 and 105 on them. That’s some big games, but the risk is clearly there, since he’s scored 155 points over the last five week COMBINED.
Manu Ma’u – Previous Score – 109 – Position Average – 53.82
I wanted to give the scariest man in the world some love this week. He’s been phenomenal lately posting back-to-back tons at the expense of the Titans and Dogs (even though they lost the latter). Before that he had 82, 64 and 79 for a 5RA of 93.2. That’s right up there with the best in the game at the moment. It’s such a shame that we’re losing his overseas at the end of the year. It’s a bigger shame that I never managed to get on board the ride. This is 2015 Radradra all over again. The flashbacks. The horror. But I digress. The Broncos are the 11th ranked side for right side 2RF’s to score on, but that stat drops to dead last over the past five games. Fortunately, Ma’u has always loved to play them. He has a 5 year average of 64.83, and scored 65 on them earlier this year.
David Nofoaluma – Previous Score – 123 – Position Average – 54.23
Well, I finally managed to play Nofo on a week he put up a big score. But it was against my guys so it still hurt me. I can’t win. In a huge plus for the Tigers as they strive for a finals berth, after the percentage boost that is, is that the Dragons are just as bad as the Knights at the moment. Maybe. They have a 1-7 record in the past two months. And in that time, they’ve allowed right wingers to score 54.3 points on average. That is being dragged down by Jesse Arthars’ 16 and Brad Takairangi’s 23 too. Then you take into account what Nofo has scored on them recently. His recent games on the Dragons are 60, 87, 46, 100, 82 and 59. That’s before they were so terrible.
Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 51 – Position Average – 52.64
Nothing confirmed yet, however I note that Boyd Cordner is lurking in the reserves list for the Chookies. He was always said to be out for two weeks only so it wouldn’t surprise to see him promoted to the run on side at the last minute. Or they could choose to ease him back in and get a bit of run in the legs leading into finals. Whatever the case, Cordner could prove to be a massive pain in Gussy’s ass.
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – 37 – Position Average – 44.18
In all honesty, I’ll probably still be playing Cleary in my 17 this week based on what he can produce, but it won’t be with any responsibility on the lads shoulders. His 37 last week was bad, but what has me truly concerned is the matchup. The reigning premiers aren’t the hardest team to score on, ranking 12th to right halves, but they’re getting tougher and tougher as the year wears on. In their past five games, opposition halves have scored 39.4 PPG when facing the Roosters, and that includes Corey Norman’s 82 last week. Cleary holds a career average of 71 against the Roosters, but that’s largely the result of a 119 he had in his debut season. Other than that, his high is 65.
Manly Sea Eagles (Yes, ALL of them)
After having talked up this game to start the article, I’m now telling you to avoid it as far as captains go. At least from Manly’s side anyway. Let me give you a run down of the scoring difficulty rankings from the Melbourne Storm. They are the hardest team (rank 16th) to score on from lock, prop, hooker, both halves, right wing and fullback. Second row: 14th. Right centre: 13th. Left wing: 8th. Left centre: 5th. So maybe you’re thinking, “ok, they allow scores to the left guys”. Correct, but those guys are Jorge Taufua and Brendan Elliott. Maybe, if Tom floats left to throw his patented cut out, he can put some scores together, but probably best to look elsewhere this week.
OTHERS OF INTEREST
Jazz Tevaga – Previous Score – 79 – Position Average – 55.55
Playing Matterson over Tevaga almost backfired on me badly. I won’t make that mistake again. Jazz returned to his 70+ scoring ways and plays the 9th ranked team this week.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 32 – Position Average – 67.50
What an utter disgrace this club is at the moment. As a fan, I’m embarrassed by the performances both on the field and off it. With his 90 PPG average from 3 games on the Titans and their huge points allowance to fullbacks (2nd), I’d love to recommend Ponga as an option this week, but I can’t with how things are being run right now.
Jai Arrow – Previous Score – 45 – Position Average – 49.36
Arrow has been pretty bad since coming back, and even before, scoring in the 40’s for his last five games. The Knights are also 15th on the year for locks scoring, but they suck now so may as well play the guy.
Cam Smith – Previous Score – 67 – Position Average – 53.55
Manly aren’t quite as tough to score on as Melbourne, but they’re not easy either. They sit 10th for scoring average to hookers but Smith enjoys playing them. Had 53 in that last blockbuster and averages 82.71 on them since 2015.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 76 – Position Average – 41.68
SJ might be one of my first picked next year. He’s back to playing with confidence and destroying the competition. How about an 82.4 average since he was benched against the Broncos.
Josh Papalii – Previous Score – 82 – Position Average – 53.73
Jeez Papa has been on a roll lately. A 5RA of almost 80 points and coming up against the 5th easiest side for props. He only scored 49 on them in round 14 though.
MY WEEK IN REVIEW
James Tedesco single handedly saved my round last week. I VC’d Cook, and while happy with this 90ish, that eventually got upgraded to 100+, I decided to run the risk rather than the loop. And then Latrell was withdrawn after all my bench CTW’s had played so why not bank the points since I’d be getting Sivo’s 21 as AE anyway. But then, I believe my exact words to the boys were “F*** it!”. Thank you Teddy.
This week, I’m very tempted to continue with the same attitude. At the moment, I have Ponga as my VC and Teddy as the C but without having anyone out, I’m wondering whether it’s worthwhile straight captaining the kid. What I do know is this. If the Knights lose to the Titans for the second time this season, I’m done with the NRL in 2019.
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.