No NRL club games this week but still a chance to tip in some competitions, with the representative round of fixtures on this weekend. Some potentially entertaining clashes and some players with something to prove, so the fans should be in for a treat. Here are the tips for this weekend from the Tipping guru, Tipping Point.
Round eight of the NRL was another tipping nightmare, with six underdogs getting up, including a win for the bottom-ranked Sea Eagles, and two points for the injury-ravaged Panthers. The Dragons also got up, claiming their sixth-straight win for the season â€“ amazingly, they were rank outsiders in the betting despite coming up against a Roosters side short on form and wins. They just keep on winning. The Bunnies also lost their third-straight game, this time at the hands of the improving Raiders who claimed their fourth away win this season â€“ which equals their total away wins in 2014. With no NRL games itâ€™s a chance to look back over the opening two months of the competition, and I have to say itâ€™s been tough going: overall, 33 of the 64 fixtures to date have been won by the underdog, which is just crazy. The unusual results will continue as we enter the rep season, where the better teams are usually decimated by player-drain which gives some of the lesser sides a chance to make inroads on the ladder. In short, things arenâ€™t going to get any easier anytime soon.
Iâ€™ve included my selections for the four international fixtures this weekend as some tipping comps require these selections. In my opinion, the more games to tip the merrier!
Season: 35/64 (55%) â€“ Last week: 3/8 â€“ Stand-outs: 3/8
At a glance: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, City
Australia v New Zealand, Suncorp Stadium
This ought to be an absolute belter. The Kiwis are reigning Four Nations champions and will be desperate to make it three straight wins over the Kangaroos. The Kangaroos will be equally motivated after a fairly uninspiring Four Nations campaign last year. Theyâ€™ll be boosted by the return of some key personnel including Thurston and Matt Scott who missed last yearâ€™s tournament and overall their squad looks a lot more solid. The Kangaroos have a phenomenal record in mid-season test matches having won 15 straight: theyâ€™ll get the job done but the Kiwis, as always, will make a good game of it.
Fiji v Papua New Guinea, Cbus Super Stadium
The remaining three games are all tough to call, especially in matches which are as free-flowing, unpredictable and entertaining as those contested by the Pacific nations. Overall Iâ€™m basing my tip in this game on the fact that Fiji have a number of NRL players in their squad and have a slightly better international record, having made the semi-finals in consecutive World Cups. PNG shouldnâ€™t be underestimated, and shouldnâ€™t be as wide in betting given the fact so many of their players regularly play in the Queensland Cup for the PNG Hunters side. Fiji should get home, though.
Samoa v Tonga, Cbus Super Stadium
This grudge-match will be an absolute humdinger, and Iâ€™m really looking forward to it. Samoa really were the surprise packets of last yearâ€™s Four Nations and came within a whisker of knocking off both England and eventual champions New Zealand. Looking at the two squads there is plenty of NRL experience and talent in both sides through the likes of Hurrell, Kata and Sika Manu for Tonga and Ah Mau, Leilua and Pat Mataâ€™utia for Samoa. Based purely on their thrilling performances in last yearâ€™s four nations, I think you have to take Samoa here but it really could go either way.
City v Country, Wagga Wagga
I dread this tip each year because it is the ultimate coin flip: two squads are brought together with limited preparation and few opportunities to develop meaningful combinations beyond what exists at club level. The result: anyoneâ€™s guess. Looking at the two line-ups I actually lean to City on the back of their superior forward pack (Fifita and Klemmer will be primed for big games after serving suspensions) and super-slick backline (Moylan, Tedesco and Roberts is almost too much excitement for one team). Theyâ€™re probably due for a win too, having only won one of the last five fixtures. But itâ€™s a coin toss – letâ€™s just hope for some luck.
Follow Tipping Point on Twitter: @tpoint1908