Round 12 of the NRL delivered in the best possible way with close finishes throughout the weekend and just enough late drama to keep us invested until the final whistle.
Over half of the games were decided by a converted try or less and there were plenty of Try of the Season contenders as well.
It was tough to condense the weekend down to five concise points but we’ve done our best in our weekly 5 Lessons Learned Recap.
1 – Road Warriors Rule Round 12
It was a good weekend to be nominated as the away team in the NRL as the visitors won six of the eight matches and also covered the line in six games.
While they are yet to actually play a game in New Zealand, this weekend saw the Warriors collect their first victory away from their temporary home in Gosford, upsetting the Tigers at the SCG.
Penrith had the biggest win of the weekend by far, knocking off Manly 42-12 at Brookvale on Saturday night in a game that would have had quite a few people switching off early.
2 – Double Digit Favourites Struggle Big Time
As the season rolls on and the gap between the haves and the have nots grows on the NRL Ladder, get ready for the lines between the top and bottom sides to get bigger and bigger.
Head to head it was a great week for favourites again, winning seven of the eight games but against the spread it was a very different story with the underdogs taking five games.
We had four sides head into their games as double-digit favourites and in a good sign for the struggling sides, the underdogs all covered.
The Warriors pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season in their 26-20 win over the Tigers after kicking off with a +14 point line.
For the second weekend in a row the Roosters had a line in the 20s and failed to cover as the Titans went down fighting with an 18-12 final score.
Then on Sunday the Bulldogs rallied from a slow start to put a real scare into the Eels and the Knights just snuck home against the spread covering a +11.5 line on the Sunshine Coast yesterday.
Next week sees the Storm open up with the biggest handicap of the round, with the line for their clash against the Bulldogs sitting at -15.5 points.
3 – It Was the Closest Weekend of the Season (Again)
For the first time this season, we had an average winning margin of under 10 points in a round with the number coming in at 8.5 points, a full 10 points per game less than it was in Round 10.
Six of the eight games were decided by single digit margins with only the Panthers winning by 30 and the Storm winning by 10.
Considering it was also one of the higher scoring rounds of the season with an average of 43.25 points per game, this is quite surprising more points tend to come in blowouts.
In terms of close contests, the Queensland derby between the Titans and Cowboys has the smallest Monday line with the Cowboys favoured by 1.5 points.
Both sides currently have a 5-7 record against the spread.
4 – Get Ready for the Staines Hype
Four weeks ago we were all caught up in the debut of Charlie Staines, scoring four tries on debut for the Panthers as a late call up.
This weekend he proved it was no fluke, notching a double in his side’s huge win over Manly on Saturday on his return from a biosecurity enforced suspension.
We’re usually fairly cautious anointing someone the second coming but with the start Staines has made to his career, it’s worth backing him to score next time he’s in the Panthers 17.
5 – Sharks-Eels Next Week is Going to be Excellent
There is no doubt the game of the round next Sunday will be the red hot Sharks facing the third placed Eels.
Let’s start off with the home side that has won six of their last seven games and covered in five of their last six, helping them rise up to sixth on the ladder.
They are still six points off the Eels and their lone loss in the last seven weeks has come against the ladder leading Panthers so this will give them a chance to see just where they truly sit.
Parramatta will be keen for a response of their own after sleepwalking through the second half against the Bulldogs and only just escaping with a two point win.
It’s the best defensive side in the competition with the Eels having conceded just 150 points this season taking on the second best attack so whoever wins this game will be the ones that can dictate the pace of play.