A wet and wild weekend in the NRL wasn’t actually that unpredictable with the favourites continuing to dominate the scoreboard.
It was a weekend of nervous finishes though with over half the games decided by a single digit margin with only the Storm putting down a statement victory, as they are wont to do.
Check out what the stats are telling us in our weekly recap in the form of 5 Lessons Learned in the NRL.
1 – Don’t Blame the Bulldogs
There is every chance your social media feed was littered with mates complaining that the Bulldogs upset win over the Knights cost them a “perfect round of tipping.”
Well there’s an easy response to those people and that is to be a little bit more creative instead of just backing all eight favourites.
With the punters and bookies working out their preferred teams in the 2020 NRL season, we’re seeing favourites starting to get up at a very high rate.
Seven of the eight favourites won head to head this weekend with only the Knights losing while the Roosters (-24.5) and Panthers (-12.5) won but failed to cover.
This was the second time in three weeks favourites had gone 7-1 head to head giving them a 43-13 record since Round 5.
Up next for the Bulldogs after their upset win is a home game against the third placed Eels where once again they find themselves unfancied by the market, although their 5-6 record with the line is something worth considering.
2 – It was the Closest Weekend of the Restart
Since the NRL resumed, a lot of these games haven’t exactly been close with the average winning margin between Round 3 and 10 being 16.44 points per game.
This weekend though, the average margin of victory was just 11.5 points with seven of the eight games decided by 12 points of fewer.
Only the Storm recorded a blowout victory this weekend and that required a strong second half surge from the de facto fourth Queensland side.
The final five matches of the round were decided by a single digit margin with the underdogs having a red hot go.
Easily the pick of the round was the wild battle Saturday evening between the Sharks and Dragons featuring two sides in position for a strong finish to the regular season.
Since Round 8 the Dragons matches have been decided by 6, 30, 6 and now 4 points making the 1-12 winning margin option worth considering when they face Souths on Thursday night.
3 – Which Made Unders a Great Play
Combine those close finishes with some miserable weather and it set up a great weekend for enthusiasts of defending with five of the eight games going under.
Three of the winning sides scored under 20 points with popular unders plays Manly and the Raiders both getting up on the back of holding their opponents to 12 points.
Both of those sides have nine unders from 11 games this season and you might see the lowest points total of the season when the Sea Eagles host the Panthers this weekend.
Penrith has also been a very strong defensive team with eight unders so don’t be at all surprised if Saturday’s contest turns into a race to 18 points.
4 – A Four Try Line was too Much for the Roosters
Want to know why the Roosters have an 7-4 record head to head but sit at just 5-6 against the spread?
Last weekend was a pretty clear example as to why they have that differential, going into Saturday’s clash with a -24.5 line against the Warriors at kickoff.
One of the most popular teams to bet on, their lines tend to be a few points higher than they should because of that public support.
Favoured in all 11 games so far this season, the Roosters average line is just under 11.5 points to date and is at 12.6 since the resumption of play.
This weekend they had the biggest line of the season in any game, closing at -24.5 at kickoff against the Warriors.
In sloppy conditions that number turned out to be far too high for them, it was only the second line that was clearly above 20 points in the last two seasons (the Storm hovered between -19.5 and -20 on Friday).
The other time was Round 23 last season when Melbourne was a -20.5 favourite, “only” defeating the Titans 24-8.
Coincidentally, Titans will fancy their chances of keeping it close when they face the Roosters on Sunday afternoon with the line sitting at -22.5 at publish.
5 – The Newcastle Roller Coaster Continues
There’s a lot to like about Sunday afternoon’s contest on the Sunshine Coast as the second placed Storm host the sixth placed Knights.
In the last two weeks, the Storm have outscored the Titans and Broncos 88-14 despite only playing two good halves in that time.
Newcastle’s inconsistency is becoming so consistent you can almost set your watch to it.
Since their draw with the Panthers in Round 3, the Knights have not won back to back games, but they have not lost back to back games either, alternating between victory and defeat.
It’s also a chance for revenge from a Round 5 defeat at the hands of the Storm where they went down 26-12.
After going down to the Bulldogs last weekend, their form suggests they are due for a rebound victory here.