Oh Captain, My Captain – Round 6

What a crazy year it has been. We’ve got predicted wooden spooners undefeated or beating the reigning premiers and in the top 8. We’ve got perennial powerhouses struggling early on and outside the 8. We’ve got shock upsets as a regular occurrence. There’s Supercoach legends failing to deliver and nobodies coming from the clouds to bust out huge scores. It’s been a topsy-turvy start to the year that has made for some exciting viewing.

I had a decent weekend on the tip. Had Ponga personally get me a decent captains knock, DCE and Teddy and Cook go fairly well. Rapana and JT were down but I called them as avoids. But then I also had Jurbo, Widdop and Milford as misses. The good news is that I appear to be trending in the right direction. Now we move to round 6. Let’s get on with it then.

 

Vice Captains

James Tedesco – Previous Score – 76 – Points to Position – 12

Sydney keep getting the early games so Teddy keeps being a very solid VC option. Are they the new Broncos? In any event, Teddy has come back to form over the past 2 games with back-to-back 70+ scores. I’d much prefer that than his sub 40 then 100+ rollercoaster from the first 3 rounds. If you read Wenin’s Team Analysis this week you’d know that Teddy’s career high vs Souths is 126 but it’s not the only ton he’s had against them. Games of 59, 71, 57, 48, 123, 65 and 77 accompany that score from last year, so there’s some history there for him. The Bunnies are ranked 12th in the fullbacks P2P but I’m not overly concerned as that’s largely affected by Mbye’s 3 point face tackle. In the interest of full disclosure though, the top score vs them this year is RTS’ 65 in round 1.

Angus Crichton – Previous Score – 54 – Points to Position – 11

Sam Burgess is out. Cam Murray is out. And Angus Crichton is due. That’s my logic anyway. Gus hasn’t been the same offensive force we saw explode onto the scene last year but he has been active and we know he can blow out a huge game every now and then, as evidenced by his 166 point game in round 15 last year. He did have 82 in his last start vs his upcoming team, with just a 39 earlier in the season. That was from 58 minutes and before he had earned the right to play the full 80. For reasons I just can’t put my middle finger on, he’s started slow in 2018 recording a high score of 69 and low of 46. According to super site Nrl Supercoach Stats, Crichton has recorded zero scoring stats and zero creating stats with just a single linebreak so to be averaging 57 PPG isn’t too bad. So as I said earlier, he’s due. With the other big name forwards out, he will need to step up his game.

Cameron Munster – Previous Score – 65 – Points to Position – 2

I feel bad for Munster owners this year. He was very much expected to come out swinging but apparently left all his fight in the 2017 World Cup and has recorded just a 50 average. Take out the 101 he got from fullback in round 1 and it’s a disgusting 37.8 PPG. But the good news is that the Knights have given up scores of 23 (L.Croker), 74 (Austin), 97 (Keary), 55 (Widdop) and 100 (Milford) to the 5/8’s they’ve faced this year. Cam2 has played Newcastle 5 times and scored between 51 and 77 inclusive. The Storm making a slight team shake up suggests they’re desperate for a win, so Munster should be on his attacking game Friday night. He looked hungrier last week against Wests and will be looking to carry that over to this game.

 

Captains

Paul Gallen – Previous Score – 84 – Points to Position – 16

Is PG13 back? That’s the big question on all Supercoaches lips this week after a vintage performance vs the Roosters saw him rack up a score of 84 points at a PPM of 1.18, both season highs. He’s been building up to it after an absentee pre-season that saw a very underwhelming opening rounds of repeat 40 point games. One of those games was against this week’s opponent, St George, who are the hardest side for forwards to score on. That comes down to the great form and huge pack at the Dragons. The highest 2RF score against them this year is Jayson Bukuya’s 67, followed by Cam Murray’s 62 last weekend as the only other score above 60. This is starting to sound like an avoid section. But here’s Gal’s scores vs this team in recent years before 2018 – 75, 61 and 77. Whilst still down for what we expect from him, those a decent games. Two of them are higher them any of my captain picks this year. If Gal is indeed back, he’ll prove it in this one.

Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 74 – Points to Position – 9

Shaun Johnson came back after a week off to drop 74 points on the Cowboys. He’s added a real maturity and consistency to his game this year. Now the Bronco’s come to Mt Smart and that has me licking my lips. SJ scored 105 and 118 vs Brisbane in his last two outings with slightly more human efforts of 29, 63, 49 and 57 before that. And Brisbane just had Mitch Pearce put 57 on them. Plus the, and I quote, “someone that’s possibly played the game a little bit too long” JT had his 110 game on the Bronx in round 2. Maybe Wayne comes out all “head” strong this week in response to their recent loss, but on current form I’m backing SJ into a masterpiece.

Jai Arrow – Previous Score – 138 – Points to Position – 12

I’m a stubborn man and am skipping Jai Arrow this year but I don’t feel very good about it. Maybe I’ll bring him in after round 13 if he’s still killing it as an upgrade but it’s going to hurt spending the extra $300k by then. If only he’d got the starting gig in round 1 instead of Latu. That’s a mistake that will haunt my whole season. But anyway. Ryan James is out through suspension, Max King starts at prop, Carty is back to the bench and Will Matthews returns to the starting side. All things that unfortunately boost Arrow’s potential for another big game. It’s no good giving you past stats with Arrow as he’s never been a big minute player before (30 vs Pen in 2016) and I won’t go into his current stats too deep as it has been well publicised. But the way he’s going, he’ll get you a safe score around 65-70. I hate it.

 

Captain Risky

(in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution)

Michael Morgan – Previous Score – 35 – Points to Position – 2

Here’s one for the draft players and perfect 8 (does anyone actually own Morgan?). While not being in great form right now, Morgan has bullied the Dogs in recent years with scores of 102, 57, 74, 105 and 46 from his last 5. And as much as Morgan is struggling to produce, the Dogs are struggling to stop 5/8’s. They’ve allowed Jacks to score 71, Keary 72, and Maloney 69. Cody only had 20 but then Sezer rebounded for his fellow 6’s with a 60. Canberra hadn’t won a game coming into last week and looked like world beaters as they broke the duck. If the Cowboys needed a team to play them back into form, and they desperately do, this is the perfect opportunity.

As an extra, I think we’re all expecting and/or hoping that JT produces something special in response to Brandy Alexander’s criticism’s this past week. I know coach Paul Green is stoked because “Johno can respond the way Johno does”. I’m looking forward to him putting on a show in Townsville.

Martin Taupau – Previous Score – 47 – Points to Position – 5

Marty loves playing his old club. He’s given them beltings to the tune of 43, 74 and 107 since he left the merger club. It’s like he lifts a little bit more when he gets to face them so I’m not as worried about his current slide that saw him play just 42 minutes against the Gold Coast. It appears to be an anomaly anyway as the previous 4 rounds saw him hitting 50 minutes in every game that wasn’t a 50 point win. And yes, Wests have been a Supercoach graveyard this season, but not to the front row as they rank 5th easiest to score on. Players like Lodge (63), Bromwich (53) and Terepo (58) have had some success up the middle. None of those guys are as explosive as Marty, so back at Brooky in a revenge game could see some classic KAPOW! *Insert Batman punch sound effect graphic*

James Maloney – Previous Score – 40 – Points to Position – 1

Well last week I outlined the success halfbacks have had against the Titans this year and even in a loss, DCE added to that record. He scored an impressive 86 points in Gladstone even with his team going down by 12. That’s an 81 point average to the position so far. The BBQ may have only had a 40 point game vs Parramatta but he looked far better in the game than his score suggests. He’s clearly the focal point of the Panthers attack right now. The last time that happened was at the Roosters and he had games of 88 and 111 vs the GC then. As a Sharks his scores were much less with 57, 39 and a 6 (in 17 minutes) but I’m more focused on the earlier results since I feel that’s more in line with his current role, at least until Cleary returns.

 

Avoid

Kalyn Ponga – Previous Score – 69 – Points to Position – 14

I love this kid but here’s the facts. Melbourne have won just 2 from 5 games this year and now sit outside the top 8 for the first time since June of 2014. That’s a 92 rounds of NRL. They just lost to the West Tigers for the 2nd time this season. The game is at AAMI Park. Melbourne don’t like to lose. They’re not used to it. So there’s every chance that Newcastle are running into an ambush. And Melbourne are allowing an average of just 33 points from fullbacks this season, despite their poor record. Ponga has never played the Storm in his career. I’d love him to pop his cherry with a massive ton but he won’t be doing so as my skipper this week.

Gareth Widdop – Previous Score – 29 – Points to Position – 15

Yep, the curse got Widdop last week. Finally. Still didn’t do me much good as I wasn’t able to make up ground. But anyway. Widdop led the Dragons to a great second half comeback win vs Cronulla in round 2 when he scored 64 points. He’s also been very up and down in the past few years in the local derby. His games before this year have been for 31, 106, 28, 35, 88, 68 and 46. Those are old SJ type numbers. The 64 points is the highest score the Sharks have allowed from the 5/8 position this year. I’m not saying he won’t be good, but ….um yeh that’s what I’m saying. He should beat last week though. Silver lining?

Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – N/A – Points to Position – 12

Tom’s suspect ankles are back again but have kept him out for just the one week this time. Turbo is always a great option, except that time when he came back from injury last season to play the hapless Knights and scored 17, easily his worst game of the year. And then there was the 2016 season when he returned from a 1 game absence to face the Bronco’s and scored 40. I think it’s a confidence thing. Until he gets the run into him he might be a bit hesitant cutting or stepping on that busted wheel. FWIW, he had a 131 on the Tigers last year but his other games have gone for 46, 56 and 27 and Wests are stingy at allowing fullbacks scoring. Will Smith has the season high against them with 58, outdoing quality fullbacks in Tedesco and Slater, twice.

 

WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF?

The good news is that my team is extremely consistent. The bad news is that it’s just consistently shit. Previous years have seen me averaging around 1050-1100 from these early rounds to set up my season. This year? 971. I’ve only gone over the 1000 point barrier just once all year (with another bang on 1000). And I can’t figure out where the hell I’ve gone wrong. I’ve got a decent team. I just keep missing out on the big scores from guys like Turbo and Widdop and now Arrow. And for a guy that writes the Captains article I have been surprisingly bad at picking them to this point. At least I jagged the Sami score but only that was sheer luck as he would have been sitting if not for Kennar’s withdrawal. I just can’t crack that one big week that has me smiling from Thursday through to Sunday afternoon. I think the family is starting to worry about me since the only time I get to spend with them, I end up pissy. This is my week though. I can feel it. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

 

THE WRAP

That’s more like it. Teddy for 70 last week and Ponga for 69 this week. Still not huge scores but a solid improve from where I was. Plus, the Knights beat the Bronx. What a great weekend.

I’m still doing quite badly in the rankings so I’ll continue to go with the risky move. Especially considering I have almost none of the above suggestions. I’ll VC Teddy as it’s the only option I have to run the loop with Katoa on the Friday night. And I think I’m going to bring SJ in and slap the responsibility on him right away. I’m looking forward to that actually.

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.

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Rapana vice c, Jake Turbo C.