It was drama aplenty in the NRL this weekend with plenty to break down from the eight matches of Round Eight.
Parramatta held serve at the top of the ladder and stayed ahead of a very strong chasing pack, which includes the red hot Storm and Panthers.
Things can change in a week and some sides are now firmly in the back against at all costs category, while others might be worth jumping on before the market catches up on their rise.
As we do every Monday we’re going through the numbers and breaking down the key facts from the NRL in our 5 Lessons Learned.
1 – Favourites Win Another Week
For the fourth straight week the favourites enjoyed a very successful round, winning six of the eight games and covering in five.
If you backed all eight favourites to win outright just before kickoff you would have returned a small profit; with the Roosters and Broncos the two that didn’t get over the line.
The only favourite to win but not cover were the Raiders, who ran out to a huge lead over the Dragons only to take their foot off the accelerator in the second half, meaning the -11.5 line (the biggest of the weekend was not covered.
If you backed every favourite to cover the Ladbrokes $2 Lines at close, you would have endured some nervous finishes but have been rewarded with a small profit as five of the favourites covered.
2 – A Potential Grand Final Preview Lived Up to the Hype
Unquestionably the game of the round lived up to and probably surpassed all expectations on Thursday night as the Storm and Roosters played out a classic.
It’s not exactly going out on a limb to suggest that we will get a tight game when two of the competition’s top sides face off, but in an even clash like this, the value on the underdog is usually there.
Not to mention the Storm at Suncorp Stadium is usually a pretty safe bet, regardless of the opponent, and with the Victorian side likely relocating to the Sunshine State for a while, they become an even more appealing play when they are in Brisbane.
There’s a lot on the line when they face the Raiders on Saturday night however and we can only hope the drama is close to what we saw last week.
3 – The Western Sydney Fortress Holds Out
Naturally, with the absolute chaos surrounding the organisation of the season getting things back on track, the home and away splits for each team are going to be a little bit wonky.
For some teams however, there’s no place like home and it’s no surprise that two of the teams that get to play in their familiar surroundings are yet to lose when classified as the home team.
Parramatta is an impressive 5-0 head to head (but just 2-3 against the spread), while the Panthers have won four and drawn their other home game, with a 4-1 record against the spread.
The Eels look like they will be good wherever they play though, recording big wins in Queensland over the Titans and Broncos, only going down to the Roosters.
4 – Discipline Matters
Sometimes rugby league can be a very simple game and the biggest advantage a team can have over their opponent is keeping their heads cool.
Wests and Manly were the two sides to spend time down a man in their games and unsurprisingly those teams lost their respective matches.
Joey Leilua’s sin binning admittedly wasn’t the only thing that cost the Tigers their game against the Panthers however his dismissal did end whatever small chance there was of a comeback.
As for Manly, Daly Cherry-Evans getting sin-binned might have come on the back of three straight sets holding the Knights at bay but in his time on the sideline the Knights built an 8-0 lead they would not surrender.
While Manly might be the least penalised team in the competition it showed that avoiding the big mistakes and playing 10 minutes with a man down is vital to success.
5 – The Sharks Are On the Hunt
Even though it was against the Titans, there was plenty to like about the Sharks big win on Saturday afternoon.
They scored 40 points for the second straight week and picked up their third straight win to move up to seventh on the ladder.
Only the Panthers are on a similar winning streak and they will let us see exactly what John Morris’ side is made of when they face off on Saturday.