Tipping Point’s View: Pre-Season Tipping Overview

Our tipping guru Tipping Point is back once more, as he evaluates all the teams from a tipping perspective with the new season just around the corner. Tipping is never easy but TP tries to make it as easy and understandable as possible, so if you are stuck, his tips might just be your life-saver.

Brisbane Broncos

2015 record: Won 17, lost seven, finished second (grand finalists); 9/12 at Suncorp Stadium in regular season; 2/2 at Suncorp Stadium during finals.
As you’d expect for a side that finished second, the Broncos were ultra-consistent tipping-wise in 2015. This was particularly so at Suncorp, where they dropped just three games all year (interestingly, they dropped the first and last regular season games at home). The Broncos were similarly reliable during the Origin period, where they knocked over Newcastle (away) without their stars, and were 3/3 for post-Origin encounters, with wins over the Raiders, Storm and Bulldogs. They’re premiership favourites in 2016 and are close to a lock-in selection most weeks.

Canberra Raiders

2015 record: Won 10, lost 14, finished 10th; 3/12 at GIO Stadium.
In 2015 the Raiders were the league’s unlikely entertainers, scoring tries at will, staging remarkable comebacks and delivering more cliff-hangers that a Michael Bevan highlights reel. They lost a stack of games by narrow margins and endured their worst-ever home season with just three wins, but I expect Canberra to mount a serious top-eight challenge this year. With a favourable draw (arguably the cushiest in the league) and the arrival of the much-underrated Aidan Sezer, they ought to make a few more notches in their “win” column. They have a gentle start with matches against the Panthers, Knights and Titans in the first month, so they should get off to a solid start and post some healthy wins early on.

Canterbury Bulldogs

2015 record: Won 14, lost 10, finished 5th (semi-finalists); 5/9 at ANZ Stadium [3/4 as away team at ANZ and 1/1 in finals], 1/2 at Belmore, 1/1 at Central Coast.
After their surprise grand final appearance in 2014 many had the Dogs pegged as serious title contenders last year. While they got off to a good start, everything unravelled after their spiteful Good Friday clash with Souths; the Dogs would come to rue the final few minutes of the game which saw them drop two competition points, lose their fullback Brett Morris to a bad hamstring tear and see key forwards James Graham, David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano earn suspensions. While they did eventually sneak into the eight, I don’t think season 2016 is shaping up particularly well for the Dogs, and the losses of Trent Hodkinson and Tim Lafai will hurt them as the season goes on. They’ve still got the cattle to do some damage but I can’t see them being much more than mid-table battlers. They ought to be able to bully the lesser sides out of the contest but wins over the top eight sides will be few and far between.

Cronulla Sharks

2015 record: Won 14, lost 10, finished 6th (semi-finalists); 6/12 at Remondis Stadium.
I don’t think there was a side that ruined my tips as consistently as the Sharks did in 2015. Despite posting dual wins over each of the Cowboys, Souths and the Roosters, they also lost at home to the Titans, Warriors and the Raiders – and let’s not forget their loss to a Panthers side so ravaged by injury that they resembled a NSW Cup team. Long story short, they were enigmas. I’m hoping 2016 is more predictable. They welcome a new halves combination with James Maloney and Chad Townsend, and I expect them to give this side the direction, class and point-scoring ability so lacking in recent seasons. Between their monster pack and Valentine Holmes, the Sharks are a quality side that will post plenty of wins this season.

Gold Coast Titans

2015 record: Won nine, lost 15, finished 14th; 5/12 at Cbus Super Stadium.
It’s a case of déjà vu all over again for the luckless franchise as they hope to shake off another controversial off-season and mount a challenge for the top eight. They’ll have to do it the hard way without Kane Elgey (injury), Aidan Sezer (Raiders) and James Roberts (Broncos) who were their shining lights last season. Working in their favour is a solid forward pack and the astuteness of Neil Henry who was able to wring out every last drop of talent from his no-frills roster in 2015, which led to some surprise wins including strong away victories over the Warriors, Sharks and Tigers. They have a soft start to the year with matches against Newcastle, Wests and the Raiders so they might be able to jag a few early wins, but once injuries and the rep season bites I think they’ll come back to the field sharply, perhaps even all the way down to 16thposition.

Manly Sea-Eagles

2015 record: Won 11, lost 13, finished 9th; 5/10 at Brookvale Oval, 1/2 at Central Coast Stadium, 0/1 at Albury.
After missing the finals for the first time in over a decade, little time has been wasted on the northern beaches with a host of new recruits poised to make their Manly debuts. Headlining the list will be ex-Tiger tearaway Marty Taupau and Australian rep Dylan Walker, who will fill the gap left by Kieran Foran. From a tipping perspective we can treat season 2015 as an aberration, such was their injury toll and boardroom drama. We will see a vastly improved Sea-Eagles outfit in 2016, but with such player churn it could take some weeks for combinations to click. I’ll still be backing them every week they play at Brookvale, and it’ll take a fair side to knock them over on the road.

Melbourne Storm

2015 record: Won 14, lost 10, finished 4th(preliminary finalists); 7/11 at AAMI Park in regular season [0/1 at AAMI Park in finals], 1/1 at Napier.
Despite many predicting their demise in 2015 the Storm adopted their tried-and-tested siege mentality to maximum effect, landing a surprise top-four finish and an even more surprising preliminary final berth. While the big three are another year older, they have enough footy smarts and experience to raise the level of their lesser-known teammates. Tipping wise the Storm generally win the games they’re supposed to win, and lose the games they’re supposed to lose, but they did put in a few absolute shockers last year. On six occasions they lost to a side that was running 16th, which shows that complacency does set in with Storm against the weaker sides.

Newcastle Knights

2015 record: Won 8, lost 16, finished 16th; 4/12 at Hunter Stadium.
After winning their first four matches in 2015 the Knights found themselves as unlikely ladder leaders – but it was all downhill from there. The Novocastrians lost 16 of their next 20 games, sacked Rick Stone and earnt the club’s second wooden spoon in their proud history. While they did run last, they competed reasonably well in most games and had little trouble scoring points – it was their defence where they really struggled. New recruit Trent Hodkinson should bring a steadying influence to the club, and with his first NRL gig since 2008 Nathan Brown will be hungry for success. While I reckon the Knights will improve in 2016, I can’t see them climbing far out of the bottom four and should be fodder for the better teams in 2016, particularly away from Hunter Stadium

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