LATE MAIL & WEATHER
Sydney Roosters vs St George-Illawarra Dragons, 4:05pm (Sydney Cricket Ground)
Positive news for Jake Friend owners who have held this long: the rake has been cleared to play this afternoon in what will be just his third game of the season. Siosiua Taukeiaho should take the field but is still in some doubt over a back issue that made him a late scratching last week. Poasa Faamausili and Brock Lamb dropped off the extended bench 24 hours out from kickoff.
The Dragons appear set to run out 1-17, but I’m hearing some late whispers that Zac Lomax could be a surprise inclusion into the starting side at the expense of cheapie Mikaele Ravalawa, since Tim Lafai’s kicking has been suspect at best after Gareth Widdop was lost to injury. Keep an eye on this one closely as Lomax has a break-even of just 10. Lachlan Timm and Jonus Pearson were omitted yesterday evening.
Weather – Fine weather is expected for the Anzac Day afternoon match in Sydney, with just a slight chance of a shower, however this is most likely to the south of Sydney, towards the Illawarra.
Chance of rain 10%, Game temperature 22-24c, Dew rating N/A
Melbourne Storm vs New Zealand Warriors, 7:50pm (AAMI Park)
The Storm made one late switch, dropping Curtis Scott and replacing him with Marion Seve at centre. Brandon Smith will be fit to play despite battling a shoulder injury during the week. Albert Vete also dropped from the extended bench.
The Warriors will be giving up Winx odds in this one, with three huge scratchings that will see them run out with one of the more questionable 1-7s in recent memory. Despite Coach Kearney advising the media that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s hamstring issues would not keep him from the Anzac day match, the very next day the skipper was ruled out along with Blake Green (groin) and Solomone Kata (compassionate). This means Gerard Beale will start at fullback, Peta Hiku to the wing, Blake Ayshford and Patrick Herbert to the centres and…wait for it…Tohu Harris into the #7 jersey. Isaiah Papali’i will start on the edge and Tevita Satae comes onto the bench. Yikes.
Weather – Fine weather is also expected for the night match on Anzac Day in Melbourne. There will be a moderate breeze present, and relatively dry airmass which will result in a limited amount of dew on the playing surface.
Chance of rain 0%, Game temperature 15-18c, Dew rating Low/mod
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.
Happy ANZAC day. One of the most moving days on the Australian calendar and the best days on the sporting calendar. This week, we’ll be honouring our Veterans with the traditional two game slate starting at 4:05pm this afternoon. And we’ll hopefully be honouring them across the weekend with a bunch of SuperCoach points from our guns (and a few bevvies).
My aim for you each week is to pinpoint the best scorers based on past stats and current trends, but I can also certainly put a jinx on someone too. Here’s my opening line for Rhyse Martin last week: “God 2.0 hasn’t missed a beat since his recall”. I’m very anxious to see who I’m going to take down this week.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – 52 – Points to Position – 14 – 3RA P2P – 11
Teddy is becoming a regular feature here, and with pretty good reason, although it was as an avoid last week. While the Dragons haven’t been much easier to score against than the Storm, their opposition have been Jordan Kahu, Alex Johnston, Darius Boyd, Nick Meaney and Brendan Elliot. Not exactly Teddy’s quality. The sixth fullback to play St George was Kalyn Ponga and he had 88. Teddy, for his part, has torn apart the Dragons in his career. Since 2015, he’s had 95, 76, 35, 70, 83 and then 61 and 108 last year. And he had a 3RA of 97.6 leading into that Storm game.
Michael Morgan – Previous Score – 44 – Points to Position – 4 – 3RA P2P – 1
This one came at me as a bit of a surprise, but then again it probably shouldn’t have. It’s the Bulldogs. Morgo has been nicely plugging away with a 55 average and a 59 3RA, despite the 44 point game last weekend. The Dogs are giving up most of the halfback points in the competition, however a lot of that was Ben Hunt’s 134. But Morgan, like Teddy, has a superb track record against the Doggies, even before they were (as) bad. He has an average of 82 PPG on them since 2015, with a low of 57 as well as two tons.
Cody Walker – Previous Score – 61 – Points to Position – 9 – 3RA P2P – 7
When you “fall back to earth” with a score of 61 then you’re doing pretty damn good. No one can put on a score like Cody can, as evidenced by the 150 two weeks ago. He also has games of 59, 67, 106 and 100 on Penrith in his career. And Penrith have given up decent scores to Cody-type players this year. Ponga (62), Munster (55), and SJ (82) have had some success against them. Penrith have been improving week to week but they’re still allowing some good scoring and Cody could be the man to put on a huge game for you early on.
Cam Smith – Previous Score – 80 – Points to Position – 1 – 3RA P2P – 1
Making his first appearance in the captains post is one of the all-time greats. It’s surprising that it’s taken this long to be honest, but I’ve been a bit cautious with how he would respond to the new look team and SuperCoach rule changes. And he’s taken a couple weeks to ease his way in but now he’s putting up those good old Cam Smith scores again. He now holds a 3RA of nearly 70 points, coming off his season best score and playing a team that he averages 75 PPG on in recent seasons. The same team that is allowing the most points to hookers this season (63.5 per game and big tons to Cook and Farah) and is now missing their main guy in RTS. Yes, Smith plays in just the second game of the week but he’s looking a super solid option to get your round off right. Munster too. This could be an ugly day for Warriors fans.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – 106 – Points to Position – 1 – 3RA P2P – 3
Good news sports fans. The Broncos suck this year. And Andrew Fifita is playing out of his skin. How about being a game-time decision last week to scoring a try and a ton? Unreal. And the Broncos have given up seven scores of 65+ to opposing front rowers this year. Names like Jesse Bromwich, Korbin Sims, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Ryan Sutton, Alex Twal and Matt Eisenhuth have all cashed in for big games against them. It’s been beautiful to watch. Fifita has only averaged 57 against them recently, but his last game was an 88 and they aren’t resembling anything like a side that is going to slow the man down.
Martin Taupau – Previous Score – 53 – Points to Position – 10 – 3RA P2P – 8
In a bit of the opposite to Fifi above, Taupau isn’t putting up huge points at the moment but has a fantastic history against the Green Machine. He currently has a 3RA of 51.7 PPG and high of 54 in that span. But his scoring against Canberra has been 64, 56, 113, 72, 87 and 56. The Raiders haven’t given up a lot of points to opposing front rowers over the last 3 games, with only Payne Haas (74) and John Asiata (69 and not a front rower) going over 60, but tell me one player at the Broncos, Eels or Cowboys who’s the same calibre as Marty.
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – 96 – Points to Position – 16 – 3RA P2P – 16
I asked the question last week but I’ll say it again: is Nathan Cleary back? He definitely looked it on Thursday night, which was hard to watch considering I never got him into my team as I had planned. The risk here is that the Bunnies are shutting down opposing halfbacks to the tune of 40.2 PPG. Cleary has averaged 64 on the Rabbits in his four career games against them, and is on a 3RA of 77 too so there’s some scope for optimism. I’m willing to give him another look in what is realistically, a tough week for matchups, but it doesn’t come without a huge risk.
Daly Cherry-Evans – Previous Score – 91 – Points to Position – 8 – 3RA P2P – 11
DCE has been on some tear this year. With his partner-in-crime out for the long term, DCE has responded with huge games of 91 and 75 points over the past fortnight and his 156 against NZ is a SuperCoach high in 2019. Canberra have been stingy this year (although Morgo did have 74 on them) but DCE has averaged 71.6 PPG over his past eight games on them ranging from 46 to 130 (both in 2016). Last year, he had a pair of 58’s. This one is back at Lottoland for the Eagles where Daly has scored 47 (Souths) and 81 (Roosters). Which way will he go against another 2019 contender?
Clint Gutherson – Previous Score – 88 – Points to Position – 11 – 3RA P2P – 7
Gutho is my biggest regret of 2019. After spruiking to the guys on this site about him being “all-but-a-lock” in my team, I ended up moving him on to fit in others under the salary cap. Others like Nathan Brown and Lachlan Fitzgibbon. I’m an idiot. But hindsight is a hell of a thing. Anyway, the guy is in amazing form (3RA of 72.3, down on his 2019 average) and playing against my guys in round 7. Nothing about this is looking good for me, except for his career games against the Knights. He had just 41 and 21 last year in his return from the ACL injury and a 50 in his only other meeting with them, back in 2016. Part of me wants to see that Gutho on Sunday afternoon. But the realist knows he’ll like demolish us as he’s doing to the rest of the competition this year.
Latrell Mitchell – Previous Score – 86 – Points to Position – 7 – 3RA P2P – 10
Latrell is one of, if not THE premier centre in the NRL now. But he’s not a five-eighth, which is where he’ll be lining up today with Luke Keary out in concussion protocols. He’s played there twice this year already for scores of 29 and 67 and he’s not going to have the same big game potential he usually would as a strike centre. If the Roosters run up a good score, and they could, he’ll get some bonus points from goal kicks but I wouldn’t trust him with any armbands.
Robbie Farah – Previous Score – 6 – Points to Position – 9 – 3RA P2P – 9
Robbie has an outrageous record against the Titans. An 85 point average since 2015. Games of 92, 64, 107 and 78. But none of that is likely to hold up in a week where he’ll be recovering from a huge head knock last week that ruled him out after just nine minutes. Take a look at all the players backing up from a concussion in recent times and you’ll see a trend of subdued performances the following week (I don’t have the data on hand to back that up). But in any case, you’ll see a quieter game from Farah this week.
Canberra Outside Backs
The boys from the nation’s capital are on fire right now, and none are playing better than John Bateman. Charnze is a close second though. But it’s the true centre-wings I’m focussing on here. BJ is starting to look like his 2016 self and Croker is finally seeing enough ball to become relevant again. Rapana notched up his first ton in over a year. Things are rosy and now there’s a game against the Manly Sea Eagles coming up. But the Eagles have been anything but the easy-beats that I was expecting them to be this year and have even been the hardest side for CTW’s to score against this year. The top scores against Manly this year have been Dan Tupou’s 77, Esan Marsters’ 68 and Jesse Ramien’s 59. After that, there’s only two other scores above 40.
Some others of Interest
Ben Hunt – Previous Score – 82 – Points to Position – 10 – 3RA P2P – 13
So it turns out Ben Hunt is pretty good, at the moment. Scores of 82 and 134 in the last two weeks are impressive showings. Had 122 and 79 on the Roosters last year too. So….. I dunno.
Jason Taumalolo – Previous Score – DNP – Points to Position – 6 – 3RA P2P – 5
Not that you’ve held him this long but the beast is back. Averages 82.2 PPG against the Dogs in his past four matchups, including a 100 last time out.
Sam Burgess – Previous Score – 58 – Points to Position – 10 – 3RA P2P – 10
Sam has scores of 101, 88, 92 and 45 against the Panthers in recent years. Unfortunately the 45 was last season but is that just an outlier?
Shaun Lane – Previous Score – 87 – Points to Position – 11 – 3RA P2P – 10
Shaun had 72 and 73 against the Knights last year, his only games against them that I can find in recent times. Looked great against the Tigers but so did the rest of Parramatta.
Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 83 – Points to Position – 9 – 3RA P2P – 2
Ponga has been sensational since the move back to fullback. Has a 3RA of 84 and has scored 46 and 75 vs Parramatta. They’ve let Teddy (133) and CNK (63) score great on them already.
I took a nice 83 points from Ponga last weekend and am feeling pretty good about my picks so far this year. I’ve got an average of 74.5 points from my Captains this year, which could have been so much more if I had have found a way to loop Teddy’s 133 instead of Cook’s 54.
This week, I’m very much liking the look of Morgo as the VC. Those past games and current form of the Dogs is an enticing matchup. I’m not sure where my Captain armband will land at the moment but I’m very much deciding between Fifita and Ponga once more. Even Gutho if I choose to bring him in, and can stomach it.
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.