Round 9 of the 2020 NRL season largely followed the chalk as the favourites enjoyed their most successful round of the year.
There was a points explosion at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday afternoon before a knockdown, drag out defensive battle lead off the Sunday slate of games.
We’ve crunched the numbers and come up with our five biggest takeaways from the weekend in our regular lessons learned segment here.
1 – Favourites Enjoyed Their Best Week of the Year
All things considered, we really should have been in for plenty of even contests with seven of the eight games this weekend having lines of less than a converted try.
Only the Roosters were double digit favourites this weekend and after a nervous first half they dutifully dispatched of the Cowboys.
All in all, it was a great weekend if you’re the sort of punter who loves to back the favourites with seven of the eight winning and covering.
If you backed each favourite at their closing price, you would have returned a decent profit and if you also backed them at the closing line, the 7-1 record would have been even better.
Perhaps we are starting to see a real separation between the good teams and the struggling sides in the 2020 season with closing favourites winning the last five weeks in the head to head market.
The one team to pull off an upset last week was the Gold Coast Titans and they now find themselves as huge outsiders when they take on the Storm this week.
2 – It Was a Great Week to Have a Fill in Jersey Number
If you were not named in the original matchday 17 for an NRL side last weekend, it might not have mattered too much.
Four players who were outside the initial team managed to cross for tries with some of the best performances coming from these late changes.
Let’s start with Matt Ikuvalu who was probably counting his lucky fortunes to even be on the plane to Townsville, and was thrown in to replace Brett Morris just before kickoff.
He certainly made the most of his opportunity, crossing for five tries against the Cowboys.
On Friday it was Reece Hoffman, wearing number 19, crossing for the Tigers in their loss to Souths.
Then came Charlie Stains who scored four tries as a late call up for his debut in the Panthers demolition of Cronulla.
In short, if you are looking for a good try scorer bet next weekend, keep an eye out for the late call ups.
3 – Thursday Night is now Favourites Night
Maybe it has something to do with the fact the “big” clubs in the NRL play in the featured Thursday night timeslot more than other teams, but backing favourites in the opening game of the round has been a very safe play.
In eight of the nine Thursday night NRL games, the favourite has won, covering in six of those games as well.
The only favourite not to win on Thursday night was the Roosters who were upset by the Storm at the latter’s temporary home ground.
The Roosters are in their third straight Thursday night game this week taking on the battered Raiders
4 – Saturday Night’s Alright (for Defending)
If you have tuned into the Saturday night NRL game ready for high scoring affairs, you’ve probably been let down more often than not.
Backing the under in the final game of the triple header has been a winning play in seven of the nine weeks.
In Round 4, the Sharks 26-16 win in Townsville went over the 40.5 total points line and the Eels nailbiting 25-24 win against the Raiders in Round 7 also went over its total of 36.5.
Overall the Saturday night contests have averaged just under 33 points per game and we should be in for another low scoring affair between Manly and Parramatta this week.
5 – It’s Time to Write off Manly (For Now)
Speaking of Manly, without Tommy Turbo, this side has gone in the tank not long after looking like premiership contenders.
They have (hopefully) bottomed out with a 30 point loss to the Dragons but until they get their superstar back there’s no reason to have any faith in their future matches, starting with the aforementioned clash with the ladder leading Eels on Saturday night.
Chances are if that one goes under it will be because they are kept below 10 points.