In what will be the first article of many from them when it comes to tipping, Tipping Point join us to evaluate the teams that are easy to pick and the teams that are hard to pick. In some way, we all struggle with tipping at times, so this guide and weekly tipping previews is designed to help you make the best possible tips.
If youâ€™re sick of finishing 47th in the office tipping comp, check out Tipping Pointâ€™s weekly selections which will be published each week on NRL News. This week, Tipping Point runs the rule over every team to see how they fared on the tipping front last season and what we can expect for 2015.
2014 record: Won 12, lost 13, finished eighth (Quarter finalists); 7/12 at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos are a tipsters dream in that they are reasonably simple to predict. They are very strong at home (won six of their last seven at Suncorp in 2014), and generally beat teams below them on the ladder. Tend to struggle on the road against the better teams, especially against their hoodoo teams in Souths and Melbourne, which makes their round one encounter with the Rabbitohs all the more difficult to predict.
2014 record: Won eight, lost 16, finished 15th; 4/12 at GIO Stadium.
Generally are straightforward to tip, however they do tend to spring a surprise victory when you least expect it (they knocked off Melbourne, Souths, Newcastle and Parramatta when underdogs in 2014); donâ€™t ever tip them for these upsets â€“ especially away from home â€“ as they are just as likely to capitulate and lose by a cricket score. I expect big improvements from the Green Machine in 2015 so things may not be so cut and dried, but Iâ€™ll need a lot of convincing to ever back them outside of the Nationâ€™s capital.
2014 record: Won 16, lost eight, finished 7th (runners-up); 6/12 at ANZ Stadium in regular season [1/2 as away team at ANZ; 1/2 during finals at ANZ].
The Bulldogs were my bogey side in 2014 â€“ I couldnâ€™t quite get on their wavelength. But Iâ€™ve learnt my lesson: theyâ€™re hard to beat at ANZ, they play particularly well against the Eels, Roosters, Warriors and Storm, and theyâ€™re prone to the odd shocker when playing teams outside the eight away from home. Overall their squad is stronger than last year, so itâ€™ll take a pretty good team to knock them over.
2014 record: Won five, lost 19, finished 16th; 2/12 at Remondis Stadium.
For obvious reasons they were the easiest team to pick in 2014 (although I still curse their upset defeat of Brisbane in round 16 which cost me victory in a â€œLast Man Standingâ€ comp) but with a new-look squad itâ€™s hard to get a bead on them. Their fate in matches is often tied to the fitness of their big forwards, who are unfortunately susceptible to injury at any stage â€“ this makes tipping the Sharks a lottery. They have a fairly gentle start with three home games in the first four rounds, including matches against the Raiders and the Titans, so the early tipping should be fairly straightforward â€“ by that stage youâ€™ll know if the Sharks of 2015 have put the misery of last year behind them and are ready to mount a challenge for that long-awaited first title.
Gold Coast Titans
2014 record: Won nine, lost 15, finished 14th; 3/12 at Cbus Super Stadium.
Traditionally the Titans start new seasons well but fall apart when origin rolls around and they lose their two best players to origin commitments. Before news of their recent off-field issues broke I thought they were worth a look in the first few rounds, but with massive question marks hanging over a number of key players Iâ€™ll be steering clear. If they can return to some sense of normality then they might have a few wins in them, noting that as a rule they are pretty terrible at home (but always play well against their Queensland counterparts).
2014 record: Won 16, lost 10, finished 3rd (semi-finalists); 9/10 at Brookvale Oval, 2/2 at Central Coast Stadium.
Manly are a dream a tip; they are close to invincible at home (just ask the Panthers and Knights, who both squandered near unassailable leads in the dying minutes at Brookie last year only to lose on the bell), and generally get the job done on the road as well. In saying that, I expect Manly to come back to the field in 2015, so while Iâ€™ll always back them at Brookie, Iâ€™ll be far more cautious on the road, especially against good opposition.
2014 record: Won 14, lost 11, finished 6th (quarter finalists); 8/12 at AAMI Park in regular season [0/1 at AAMI Park in finals]
Reasonably straightforward to tip. Theyâ€™re usually a lock if the â€œBig 3â€ are on deck and theyâ€™re at home and playing the weaker sides. The Storm do tend to get overwhelmed by the better sides; for example, the Bulldogs beat them three times last year (I got the tip wrong every time), and the Roosters beat them twice. They also lost on the road to the Raiders, Titans, Dragons and the Warriors. Stay away from them around Origin.
2014 record: Won 10, lost 14, finished 12th; 7/12 at Hunter Stadium.
The Knights have always been hard to beat at home and they racked up some scores in the back-half of last season including strong victories over the Storm, Cowboys and Roosters. Theyâ€™ll head into 2015 on a six-game winning streak at home so Iâ€™ll generally be backing them at Hunter Stadium, but giving them a wide berth on the road having only won a third of their matches outside of Newcastle.
North Queensland Cowboys
2014 record: Won 15, lost 11, finished 5th (semi-finalists); 11/12 at 1300SMILES Stadium in regular season [1/1 at 1300SMILES Stadium in finals]
When theyâ€™re playing at home, itâ€™s easy as pie: tip them. On the road itâ€™s slightly more complicated. They only won three games on the road last year, and these all came in the back-half of the season with wins over the Sharks and the two grand finalists; admittedly, many of their defeats were by thin margins, but they do seem unable to consistently get the job done outside of Townsville. As a result, Iâ€™ll be very wary of tipping them in the first half of the season away from home as they are renowned for their slow starts.
2014 record: Won 12, lost 12, finished 10th; 7/9 at Pirtek Stadium, 0/2 at ANZ Stadium (as home team) and 1/1 at TIO Stadium (Darwin).
The Eels wrecked my tipping on more than one occasion last year, in particular the last two rounds where they lost as favourites against the Knights and the Raiders when a semi-final spot was up for grabs. They were however close to unstoppable at Pirtek, posting impressive wins over Manly, the Cowboys, Penrith and the Roosters, but they were awful on the road â€“ and I mean awful. They conceded more than 38 points in half of their away fixtures. I give them some hope at Pirtek, but unless they figure out a way to win without Hayne I wonâ€™t be tipping them too often in 2015.
2014 record: Won 16, lost 10, finished 4th (preliminary finalists); 9/11 at Sportingbet Stadium; 0/1 at Carrington Park (Bathurst)
The Panthers saved my bacon on a number of occasions in 2014 because they were incredibly consistent â€“ a hallmark of Ivan Clearyâ€™s coaching. Virtually a lock playing at Sportingbet, and they very rarely sprang a surprise result on the road either. In the main, Penrith won when they were meant to, and lost when they were meant to; for example, they had pre-match favourites Manly well and truly beaten at Brookie in round 25 with a seven-point lead and just eight minutes left on the clock, only to concede two tries (including one in the final minute) to ensure conservative tipsters were left happy.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
2014 record: Won 11, lost 13, finished 11th; 3/4 at WIN Jubillee; 2/4 at WIN Stadium; 1/2 at ANZ; 0/1 at SCG; 0/1 at Allianz Stadium.
The Dragons were among the most predictable teams tipping-wise last year; barring four exceptions (which out of 24 matches is quite good), they always knocked over teams outside of the eight, but went down against top-eight sides. Two of their upset wins came during the Origin period, and as for their two upset losses? Well, one came in the last round, when they had nothing to play for, while the other was an inexplicable drubbing to the Eels, which coincidentally was Benji Marshallâ€™s debut for the club. As for this year, I wonâ€™t be making a habit of tipping them unless theyâ€™re playing the real cellar dwellers.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
2014 record: Won 18, lost 9, finished third (premiers); 4/9 at ANZ Stadium (as home team) in regular season [1/2 at ANZ as away team and 2/2 during finals series]; 1/1 at NIB Stadium (Perth); 1/1 at Barlow Park (Carins); 1/1 at SCG.
Considering they finished second on the ladder and ended up winning the competition, Souths delivered a number of strange results which confounded tipsters, dropping points against the Raiders, Titans and the Tigers, and were beaten twice by the Cowboys. This reflects South Sydneyâ€™s style: when they were up for the battle they were close to unstoppable, but when their forwards didnâ€™t aim up they were susceptible against anyone. With a weaker pack this year, Iâ€™d wager on there being a few more â€œsurpriseâ€ results, especially with everyone keen to knock the Bunnies off their perch.
2014 record: Won 17, lost 10, finished 1st (preliminary finalists); 9/12 at Allianz Stadium; 1/3 at Allianz Stadium as away team and during finals.
The Roosters were pretty bankable in 2014 with just a few blots on their copybook: upset losses at the hands of the Eels (round six), Sharks (round 17) and Newcastle (round 20). Surprisingly, they were knocked over by their 2013 grand final foes Manly twice, and copped a drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys to the tune of 42-10 in round 10. As a general rule I tip them at home, but exercise caution when theyâ€™re on the road against the best sides.
New Zealand Warriors
2014 record: Won 12, lost 12, finished 9th; 6/8 at Mount Smart Stadium; 1/3 at Eden Park; 1/1 at Westpac Stadium (Wellington).
Has there ever been a side as consistently inconsistent as the Warriors? This is a side that in 2014 knocked over North Queensland in Townsville (the only side to achieve this all year), Melbourne in Melbourne and the Raiders in Canberra, but also gave the Sharks their first win of the year and got rolled by the Dragons twice. This is a side that in round one got hammered 36-16 against the Eels, but reversed the result in round 20 to the tune of 48 zip. You have to love the Warriors: the only certainty with them is that they start seasons terribly; their win rate in round one matches is around 20%. After that, well, itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s guess.
2014 record: Won 10, lost 14, finished 13th; 2/5 at Liechardt Oval; 2/4 at Campbelltown Stadium; 2/3 at ANZ (1/3 at ANZ as away team).
Last season was a tale of two halves for the Tigers: having started brightly posting a solid seven wins across the first 13 rounds, the joint venture club capitulated, freefalling out of the top eight losing nine of their last 12 games as tension surrounding the tenure of Michael Potter escalated. When Tedesco, Brooks, Woods and Farah were all on deck the Tigers were a chance against anyone (they knocked over Souths, Manly, the Bulldogs and the Cowboys last year when close to full strength). Iâ€™d expect a similar tale this year â€“ the problem is keeping these key personnel on the paddock.
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