Round 19 is both the penultimate Supercoach weekend as well as the NRL’s Women in League round. As such, I want to give a shout out to all the ladies of our game. All those who support and play and are doing a much better job than I am this year I’m sure. And all those who allow their partners or significant others to tune out for a time to check lineups and watch irrelevant games in order to count stats. I want you to know that we at NRL Supercoach know that we couldn’t do this without you.
In the Supercoach world, we’ve already been dealt a massive blow before a ball has even been kicked. THE Supercoach captain of 2020 has been given a rest weekend. It means a lot more work for me now that I don’t have Teddy as an auto start in this piece. At least Robbo gave us the courtesy of waiting the week until Ponga returned (and maybe others).
We may not even need to worry about it. We get to start the weekend with three very (on-paper) one sided games which present a gluttony of potential vice-captain options. Let’s get into it.
Nathan Cleary – Round 18 Score – 104 – 2020 Position Average – 64.3
One-sided matchup #1 (or #2 chronologically): Panthers facing the Cowboys. I was getting very concerned at the start of the week with the speculation that Penrith wanted to rest some players heading into the finals. What were they thinking? That could have had huge ramifications on the outcome of the season seeing Supercoach stars like Cleary, Edwards, Kikau, Api, JFH, Luai, Mansour, Yeo, Crichton etc missing crucial games to close out the year. Listen guys. If you want to go out and throw away your last two games, so be it. But leaves us Supercoaches out of your shenanigans.
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and the players have demanded to keep playing. All except Api who was last seen visiting Disneyland. (Sidenote – big kudos to Ryan Matterson for grabbing Api early to make sure he was ok after the knock). But to cut to the chase, this means Cleary is in against a Cowboys side giving up over 60 PPG to halves players in 2020. I say “halves” because Cleary and Luai both play a floating role and will pop up on either side of the field. It has proved dangerous all season. Just looking back at last weekend, Cleary notched 104 points and Luai joined him in triple figures with an even 100. On the other side, the Cowboys allowed the right side Hughes (87) and leftie Munster (97) destroy them too.
Now, everyone knows just how good Cleary has been this season, but amongst all his high scoring, he had his second best game of the year against the Cowboys in round 10 when he dropped a 112. Here’s hoping for a repeat performance.
Damien Cook – Round 18 Score – 84 – 2020 Position Average – 59.1
To kick off the weekend we get the 6th placed Rabbitohs taking on wooden spoon hopefuls, the Bulldogs. And although hookers have had a really bad strike rate against the Dogs this year, that’s not due to anything the Dogs are doing. They have played just three of the top hookers in the league through 18 rounds, being McInnes in round 4, Grant in round 7 and then this man Cook in round 8. Those three scored 82, 101 and 78 respectively. Otherwise, they’ve not played anyone with any real Supercoach pedigree (Cam Smith missed Melbourne’s round 13 match) and thus kept scores somewhat low.
However, as I said, Cook wasn’t one of those low scores. And hasn’t been a low scorer against his former side for a long time. His scores against the Dogs since they chose Michael Lichaa over him (lol) have been 33, 71, 23, 66, 53, 84, 69, 82 and then the 78 earlier this year. There’s nothing like punishing a team for that sort of mistake.
Maika Sivo – Round 18 Score – 29 – 2020 Position Average – 56.2
Our last one-sided game is Parramatta vs Brisbane. I don’t know if you can really class anyone playing against the Broncos as a true long shot option but both Sivo and Parra haven’t been anything but dominant of late so I’ll roll with the big Fijian for the moment. He has been truly awful as far as Supercoach scoring goes, but if you’re watching his games you can clearly see that it’s not for lack of trying. I don’t know what the issue is but he’s not seeing as much quality ball as he did last season and earlier this year.
Like earlier this year when he scored 61 against the Broncos, who are allowing more points to left wingers than any other side. A stark contrast to the Panthers side he faced last weekend. Brisbane just help Corey Thompson to 33 points in round 18, but had Mansour (69) and Tupou (95) the two rounds before that put up great scores. It’s presenting as a nice weekend for Sivo to bounce back and add to his 3 game Broncos average of 73.3.
If anyone is still holding on to Clint Gutherson for whatever reason, he also makes a great VC choice. He had 124 on the Broncos earlier this year and they are giving up 71.6 points to the position this season.
Ryan Matterson – Round 18 Score – 66 – 2020 Position Average – 64.6
If you do happen to roll with a Panther or Rabbit (or Cowboy or Dog) as your Vice Captain, or just want a straight up safe captain play, this is your guy this week. Matterson just keeps pumping out great scores. The 66 he had last weekend against the Panthers when his team was brutalised is just about the floor for Matto. And if he can get an attacking stat it pushes him up towards the ton. So, coming up against a team who is giving up 65 PPG to right edge forwards.
Hipgrave and Martin didn’t do a lot in their Broncos encounters, but Tupouniua (124), Frizzell (60), and Bateman (95) did. And they seem more along the lines of the types of edge forwards that Matto is. And it certainly helps that he had 99 on the Broncos in the first match between these clubs. Can he do it again?
Cameron McInnes – Round 18 Score – 78 – 2020 Position Average – 65.9
Cam McInnes has been a superstar all season, but the move into lock has been a bit of a wash. It’s not that he’s at all bad there but he’s averaged 72.6 at lock vs 79 from hooker. But come on, the 72 PPG is still a top 15 average on the season. And two of those names above him are Charlie Staines and Cody Ramsey. C’mon.
Then it just so happens that this week’s opponent is one of the easier teams for lock to score Supercoach points on, ranking in the top three for the stat. Angus Crichton put 84 on the Knights last weekend, which doesn’t say much considering the outcome. But then Toby Rudolf had 51 from the spot the week before playing largely off the bench and then Jazz had 92 before that. The Knights gift points to locks.
McInnes doesn’t usually score well against Newcastle. They’re his second lowest averaging side to play, excluding the Dragons of course. But his last three games against the Hunter club have been 61, 60 and 82 which is his personal best vs them. He’s a different player now, especially this year and I can see a new PB coming. So……c’mon.
Jake Trbojevic – Round 18 Score – 44 – 2020 Position Average – 55.6
Jake Trbojevic may as well have stayed home last weekend for all the good he did on the Supercoach front. I watched the game on Friday afternoon and honestly, I couldn’t tell you what happened. I don’t really even recall him being there. He was a ghost. He’ll be better this week against the Titans. He’s always gone up a gear when playing them. They’re obviously a much better team this year but they can still give up a good score. Carrigan, Tolman and McInnes have combined for a 60.3 average on the Titans in the past three weeks.
The good news for Jurbo is that they’re his favourite team to play, with a 77.5 average across six games. Those games being 46, 59, 115, 51, 123 and 71 so if they’re was ever a game that he was going to come back strong in, it’s this one.
Cameron Munster – Round 18 Score – 97 – 2020 Position Average – 61.1
I ran with Munster as my skipper in round 18 and it paid dividends. So, I’m going to go back to the well in round 19 for more of the same. His matchup against the Tigers is a great one, with them allowing over 61 PPG to left halves on the year. Over the last five weeks that average has been 71.6 PPG with all but one guy going over 75. That was debutant Josh Schuster who had just 31 while DCE posted a 114 on the other side of the field. Otherwise, Cody walker (82), Jarome Luai (83), Drew Hutchison (86) and Kieran Foran (76) have had their way with the Tigers right edge defence.
To be fair to the Niners though, Cam Munsters has never been a huge score against them. He’s played them five times in his career for games of 45, 65, 25, 80 and 67. But he’s due and in good form. And also, I need this.
Kalyn Ponga – Round 18 Score – DNP (rest) – 2020 Position Average – 58.8
I also need this, but for my NRL side. Terrible doesn’t begin to describe the way the Knights played last week without Ponga and Barnett. Wow. Surely those two guys can’t make that much of a difference but still, it wasn’t pretty. But I’m extremely pleased that he’s back against the Dragons this week. They’ve been allowing 58.8 PPG to fullbacks and 68.6 in the past five weeks.
But how does Ponga go against the Dragons? Not too bad really. He’s met them four times with increasing success each time. He had 56 while with the Cowboys then moved to the Knights and has had 75, 88 and 118. And after having scores of 172 and 158 within his most recent five games, I’m so glad he only needed the one week out. LFG!!
Tom Trbojevic – Round 18 Score – DNP (inj) – 2020 Position Average – 52.1
I have Turbo down as a long shot simply because I’m still not convinced that he actually plays. With all the circumstances as they are, I can’t see why Manly would risk it. But as JT pointed out to me on the teams pod this week, maybe he just wants to get some runs in the legs before gearing up for Origin in November. But let’s say he does play….
And like bigger brother, he loves to play against the Titans. And I mean LOVES it. I’m talking about a 112 point career average against the Titans with a minimum score of 70. Full disclosure. it’s come from just three games and the latest of those games was a 73 point game last year. Are you doing the math now? His other game against the Titans was round 23, 2018 for a grand total of 194 points. Number 2 on the all-time list.
Then we also know the trend of Turbo returning from hamstring injuries and pumping out a monster score. Like round 3 last season when he came in against the Dogs with a 152 then had 58 on the Bunnies in just over a half before getting hurt again. Then a few weeks later after another set back. He came back in round 13 with a 62 and followed that up with 167 on the Dragons. That’s insane.
Shaun Johnson – Round 18 Score – 56 – 2020 Position Average – 48.6
I had a piece last week about why SJ would be a fantastic option for a captain. That bombed out pretty badly in the end. In fact, SJ went into the halftime break on 38 points and took roughly half of the next stanza to register another Supercoach stat. It was a linebreak that came literally seconds after I tweeted about SJ going MIA.
So what chance do we give him against a red-hot Roosters team? In the past four seasons, he does have a couple of nice scores on them. Like 95 and 71, both of which came in 2016 as a Warrior. He scored 58 in 2017 and then his only other meeting with them since yielded a score of 41 last year. And they’ve been just as stingy this season. Their last five opponents scored an average of 61.4 which is largely buoyed by Jarome Hughes’ 103 points from round 14. The other four didn’t go over 60 and I can’t see that changing with SJ.
David Nofoaluma – Round 18 Score – 61 – 2020 Position Average – 35.9
Do I try this again? Every time I’ve mentioned Nofo in a really tough matchup he’s made me look silly. In fact, he’s made his living this year by making non-investors look ridiculous. But he gets to play Melbourne this week who have done very much the same with wingers this year. Right wingers in particular have really struggled going at almost 10 PPG less than their left side counterparts. Kyle Feldt managed to cross the stripe last week against Melbourne but still only scored 34 points for the afternoon. Who knew the Josh Addo-Carr was such a defensive juggernaut.
Nofo hasn’t played against the Storm all that much in his career, but when he has he’s actually been decent. Of the five times he’s played them, he has scores of 67, 52, 70, 76 and 66. It’s not exactly proving my point here but he also hasn’t played them in two seasons. I just wonder if this is finally the week that it all falls apart for Nofo.
Jason Taumalolo – Round 18 Score – DNP (inj) – 2020 Position Average – 63.1
I see Lolo sitting there in the number 18 jersey in the team lists and there’s every chance he gets a call up. But, with all the circumstances as they are, I can’t see why
Manly the Cowboys would risk it. Sound familiar?
I know I called for a boom game from Lolo but I’m back tracking on that a bit. I still think he plays and goes gang busters for the most part. But I wouldn’t be rushing to throw the armband on the big man until we see how that calf is holding up. And a comeback game against the league leading Panthers on a Friday evening isn’t the ideal way to return. However, the Panthers for all their might and power do allow a 60+ average from the lock position. There’s a chance of a good return game, but just be wary of that lingering injury.
I apologise for the lateness this week but life got in the way, as it’s prone to do sometimes.
It’s going to be hard to look past Nathan Cleary on Friday night as a VC. And for the captaincy, it may come down to a flip of the coin between my head (Munster) and my heart (Ponga).
As always, you can ask me any follow-ups in the comments below, or even hit me up on twitter @dlake631, and hopefully I’ll be able to help some more. Good luck for the round ahead.