Pat on the back guys. You made it through the worst of the pain. But before you get too comfortable, it’s not over just yet. This week, just as round 14 did, starts a day later than our general proceedings in order to allow a break for the Origin players. It likely won’t matter anyway as those same guys will be rested from club commitments, just as we saw with Cook, Crichton, Cordner and Roberts after game 1. There’s already been plenty of talk out of Penrith that Cleary and BBQ will miss again this week and both have been named on the extended bench. They won’t be the last though so as always, keep your eyes open for Wacko’s late mail updates towards the end of the week.
Let’s take a look at round 18.
Paul Gallen – Previous Score – Bye – 2018 Points to Position – 8 – 3 Rd P2P – 9
I don’t often have a big forward named in the VC section but who else am I going to pick? Someone from the Knights vs Eels? C’mon. Be serious will you. But the old bull is showing signs of his best form with a 3RA of 84, including a 121 that came in the Sharks game following Origin 1. In true Gallen fashion, he’s missed a lot of the games vs Penrith over the past couple season due to injury (presumably), but in the ones he has played, he has scored 76, 82 and 65. While 2nd rowers may not have the best track record against Penrith this year, I looked deeper and found that not to be the case so much for lock forwards. Adam Blair had just 30 in that drubbing last week, but round 16 – Jurbo – 85. Round 15 – Issac Liu – 73. Round 14 – Josh Papalii – 95. Add to that Lolo’s 94 in round 9, and Nathan Brown’s 76 and 74 in rounds 5 and 1, and you can see there’s a good record of big scores.
Cody Walker – Previous Score – Bye – 2018 Points to Position – 3 – 3 Rd P2P – 1
A offensive specialist vs the 2nd worst team of the competition? Yes, please. Cody is rounding into some nice form for the final stretch too. His last 3 games have been 67, 90 and 84 and more than likely saved him in a lot of Supercoach teams. Cody has always been capable of cranking out a big score but his games against Canterbury haven’t quite yielded that throughout his career. He has played them 5 times for scores between 64 and 20, with the latter coming in round 4 this season. The 3RA P2P above is skewed a little bit by Connor Watson (he features twice in this write up) in round 16 when he destroyed the Dogs from fullback, but if you want to see what a running half can do to them, check out Blake Austin’s 14 minutes of fury last weekend. He pumped out 69 points and saved Canberra’s ass. Gives you some confidence in Cody over 80 right?
Alex Johnston – Previous Score – Bye – 2018 Points to Position – 3 – 3 Rd P2P – 1
In that same game, Alex Johnston shapes as an intriguing VC throw. There has been some debate about the legitimacy of AJ as a choice for the run home, which has led to a steak bet being made between some of the site contributors. For me, I don’t trust him. He’s capable of a huge score (see his 141 from r24 last season) but he’s equally, if not more, likely to produce a horrible game (see his 6 in r19 last season). Just for s&g’s, I went back the last 3 seasons to see how he performed without GI in the side. In 2016, he averaged just 36.3 in 4 games which included an 88. In 2017, GI played just the first round and AJ averaged 56.8 the rest of the season, finishing with a 100, 100 and 141. And in round 14 this year AJ scored 80. The ultimate rocks and diamonds player. To prove that point, his past 7 games vs the Dogs have gone for 51, 100, 44, 15, 37, 44 and 15. So, no I won’t be bringing him in. But if you have him already, then he is as good a shot at a big score this week as anyone. He has a 3RA of 88 and fullbacks have been torching the Dogs lately, mostly. Abbey had just 28 last week and Ponga got hurt on 5 in the game before, but Connor Watson went back to fill in and had 108 on them while Mick Gordon chalked up a 138. If the bunnies get going, AJ could be huge.
Cameron Smith – Previous Score – 104 – 2018 Points to Position – 10 – 3 Rd P2P – 8
Smith is on some sort of a crazy roll right now. A 5RA of 95 highlighted by 3 triples is incredible. And his last 2 games following Origin matches? 106, 72. Cam is on a tear, and his record vs Manly is equally impressive. His recent scores vs them have been 143, 86, 113, 45, 77, 73 and 71. He gets up for these games against his old rivals. The last 3 hookers to face Manly (named Katoa, McInnes and Luke) have averaged 57. I don’t think I need to say too much more. He is about as much of a lock as it gets. Just don’t overthink it Semi.
Gareth Widdop – Previous Score – 52 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 8
Originally, I’d put Widdop down as a risky prospect due to his 5RA of 45 and the lateness of this game. But I bumped him up because SJ is just a far riskier prospect off the back of his 17 last week. I mean, WTF? So many people traded you in for this round. Anyway, Widdop stands out to me based off his past record and the tigers defensive woes. They are allowing an average of 34 points per game over their last 3 matches, and it’s been to Cronulla, Canberra and Gold Coast. Not the best teams in the comp. It doesn’t get any easier here with the Dragons coming in to make up for their last start loss to Melbourne. And if the points continue as they have, Widdop will be practicing goal kicking all afternoon. His recent games vs Wests have been 72, 89, 40, 52, 139 and 126. I’m expecting another in that line.
Jai Arrow – Previous Score – Origin – 2018 Points to Position – 4 – 3 Rd P2P – 10
I really tried not to include too many Origin players here but Jai is a young buck with the most amount of time to recover. He is running on a 5RA of 75, with his only blip being a 46 in round 14. That concerns me because it was off the back of his first Origin game. His back up game from the Sunday Origin produced a 105 point score though so he can do it when afforded the recovery time. The Chooks key players will also be backing up or not playing at all in Boyd Cordner’s case, making them a weaker unit than the one Arrow scored 60 on in round 12 (in just 60 minutes too).
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Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 17 – 2018 Points to Position – 11 – 3 Rd P2P – 16
Seriously dude, WTF? 17?!? No, I won’t go into it again. Let’s move on. The Warriors and Broncos played each other in round 6 this season and on that day Brisbane prevailed 27-18 at Mt Smart Stadium. But still SJ managed to take top honours for his side with an 82. His 2 games against Brisbane before this year, he dominated for scores of 105 and 188 but struggled earlier than that with 29, 63, 49 and 57. The Broncos are currently the hardest side for halfbacks to score on thanks to games against Ash Taylor (8), Aidan Sezer (24) and Chad Townsend (31) in their last 3, but across the season have let in captain worthy games to SJ, DCE (79) and JT (110). Even with the game at Suncorp, I think we see a better showing from the Kiwi’s, led by this man.
Anthony Milford – Previous Score – 62 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 3
And the rollercoaster continues. We’re just on an upward path at this moment so enjoy the momentum while it lasts. His last 2 games of 106 and 62 are more along the lines of what Milford owners wanted all year, but the 34, 50 and 39 from the weeks before that were what those owners have been getting, including a 32 from round 6. But if there was anything to give you hope of a nice score from him this time, just check out Tyrone May’s 70 and Jarome Luai’s 133. Even better, look back at TMM’s 63 or Moylan’s 64. The points are there and flowing. Milf has previously scored 35, 90, 43, 20 and 80 against the Dubs. Let’s pray he gets that license to run more so the big games keep on coming.
James Tedesco – Previous Score – Origin – 2018 Points to Position – 1 – 3 Rd P2P – 6
If the combination of Catfish, myself and site fav JT have calculated correctly, Teddy is in line to score 253 points against the Titans on Sunday afternoon. Let me explain. JT estimated that Teddy is 1,000 times the player that Darius Boyd is now, who just had 68 on the Titans last week. Surprisingly, Wilfred came to the Bronco’s defence saying that Teddy had 82 on the Titans earlier this year so he’s just 1.2 times the player Boyd is. But then I pointed out that Boyd scored 22 in his first game vs GC this year, making Teddy 3.7 times the player and thus, Teddy will score around 250. Sound logic, right? Seriously though, the Titans have been giving up huge scores to fullbacks all year with 7 of their 16 opponents going above 75 and another 4 being above 60. Teddy was 1 of those, and his other past games vs GC have been 91, 37, 65, 82, 58 and 116. Just make sure he’s playing first.
Nathan Cleary – Previous Score – Origin – 2018 Points to Position – 14 – 3 Rd P2P – 11
Let’s be honest, Cleary isn’t backing up. The Panthers stunned Nick last weekend when they gave NZ a bath with Jarome Luai leading the way. The kid was phenomenal and it has probably given Penrith brass the confidence that he could hold the fort for another week. That and the Panthers top 4 spot. But just in case Cleary does back up, don’t take the risk. He has played the Sharks twice in his career for 36 and 21 point games, making them easily his worst team to play. And they’re not any easier this season. The last five halfbacks to face Cronulla have scored 52 (SJ), 54 (Niko), 15 (Brooks), 66 (ARey) and 64 (Cogger). In fact, those last 2 scores were the top games from a #7 vs the Sharks in 2018. No one has broken out for a captains score on them all year. Actually, Cleary has already been omitted, after I wrote this. So the problem solves itself.
Rhyse Martin – Previous Score – 153 – 2018 Points to Position – 4 – 3 Rd P2P – 11
I’m not saying don’t play him. All I’m saying is, he won’t have 3 tries every week. The kid is clearly going to be a gun for years to come and will be one of the first selected players in Supercoach each year. He is a hard worker, and try scorer and kicks goals. As has been mentioned before, Trent Copeland has tagged him God 2.0. That’s some big praise. But the Raiders are one thing and the Rabbits are something else entirely. Over the last 3 games, the top scorers against Souths from the 2R have been Lolo with 70 and Terepo with 67. I’m just wary that a few will be seduced by his domination last week and take the shot here. It’s another version of chasing last weeks scores. Don’t risk it. Just enjoy it if it happens.
Other Origin Players
Just throwing in my usual caveat here with the Origin guys. It was yet again a brutal encounter and yet again, described as one of the best Origin’s we’ve seen for years. I’m seriously worried about Fatty’s memory, he proclaims that every game. As always, this one is a personal preference/call. I said it in the intro but we will see some withdrawals thanks to some sore bodies in the days following. Be extra careful.
WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF?
I honestly can’t do anything right when it comes to captains. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great week. Scored 1,073 and cut my rank by over half. But after talking up Cam Smith last week as the ultimate option, I tried to be clever by passing on him for Jarrod Croker as VC. Smith scored a ton. But Croker scored 138 right? Yep, however I got cold feet in the lead up to the Warriors game about what that PoS SJ could do to the rudderless Panthers and changed my pick. And after that massive failure, I went the safe option with Ryan James. Sunday was a massive failure for me anyway, but watching RJ struggle his way to 52 as my captain, after seeing Croker’s masterclass the night before, left a really sour taste in my mouth. I couldn’t even enjoy the week as I should have.
If you read Surge’s team analysis, you’d have seen that I’m now inside the top 2k but still trailing most of the other contributors. I need to follow up on the good week now so I can beat those fu…. er, continue climbing the ranks.
I’ve got Tohu sitting there on my bench (for now), so I can potentially use the loophole all the way up through Saturday’s games. I also have Kurt Mann sitting there who may just become an AE nightmare from now on so will need to be very, VERY careful with how I go about things. At the moment, I’m looking towards Cook (who was superb on Wednesday again) as VC with Smith at C. Or Smith as VC with Widdop as back up. The second option gives me the chance to see if Mann gets his starting spot back before making my decision.
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.