Thursday, 24 February 2011

Super League - Round 3

Another week has passed without a blog post; the truth is that finding time is proving as difficult as finding something to write about!

However, it’s Thursday evening and so it is time to look ahead to the upcoming Super League weekend, although time dictates that this post should be sort, not even by my standards but by general standards.

A quick word on last week which proved to be the exact opposite of the first weekend, and my trading was pretty woeful. On the Friday night game, I found myself struggling to find an opening until the 1.1 rule was deployed. The problem I have always had with this approach is finding the right point to trade out. At first, I would trade out in the mid 1.1s, which would give me a very small green and proved highly aggravating when a comeback was completed, so I switched to letting it run – which proved highly aggravating when a comeback wasn’t completed.

However, as the whole purpose of the trade is to find value, I have decided to trust my judgement on when to trade out, although the size of the potential green is still ensuring that I take a medium approach to risk.

In this game, the opportunity never realised itself. Now, Hull are without doubt a side who are woefully underperforming and who are poorly coached. However, on the back of some 50/50 calls going against them and with Leeds down to one substitute, I always felt that with just one or two bounces of the ball, they could mount a serious comeback. Sadly, that never quite happened – leaving me with a maximum loss which was quite frustrating as the opportunity had been there briefly to take a reasonable profit. As someone who tends to be risk averse, the loss in the profit was felt more than the no score draw on the net scoreboard.

As a result, I then traded the Castleford Huddersfield game rather more conservatively and backed out of my initial bullish opinion to a more moderate one. In fact, I owed more of my profit to a crazy first half draw price than to my pre-match thoughts. It is wise not to overcommit before a SKY game as opportunities do present themselves during the game, but when you do have an opinion, you should look to utilise it.

Onto this week and the televised game on Friday is between St Helens and Warrington and despite this being not only an excellent game and myself being a Saints fan, this is one game that I am set to miss which is more than a bit gutting.

Usually, I prefer to look for value in play but that will be quite hard. However, the market has been extremely generous in giving me a pre play value.

I’ve discussed my main reasons for this on the Betfair forum, but suffice to say I had expected St Helens to start around 1.8 – their current price of 1.5 is one that baffles me. I won’t go over old ground, but I will say that this appears to be an overreaction based upon results and form, not ability, and a nod to “Home advantage”.

My view, on a very basic level, is that Warrington are the better side and therefore Warrington should win. Now, I won’t be shocked if Saints win and I wouldn’t look to overly commit before you see how the game is playing out, but 1.5 is a price which looks to be too low, massively too low although usually the best value can be found during the game.

The other two SKY games this week look to be fairly even games and I definitely will be waiting to see how they evolve before taking a position; with Sunday’s World Club Challenge especially true of the above comment – you really need to see how the Australians are treating the game.

That leaves us with four non televised games this week, and all games seem to produce a potential opening.

Leeds v Harlequins will see the home side start in the 1.1s. As a general rule, that is too low a price. Now, Harlequins’ good form should come to an end soon and they are a very limited side. However, Leeds have not been producing superb displays this year and whilst they are strong favourites, their current price is much too short for my liking. The Wildcard in all this is that Leeds’ coach is Harlequins’ former coach and their coach is the former assistant so both sides will know each other well. So whilst I’m not sure Harlequins are great value, if I had to choose one, it wouldn’t take me any time to answer.

The same approach should therefore be taken in Hull KR v Catalans. Now, whilst I have said I don’t take much stock in form, I do take stock in performance and Catalans’ two games this year have shown a real dearth of talent at halfback which is the most crucial position in Rugby League. Now, I am not convinced that is a large enough sample to write Scott Dureau off, but the Australian quickly needs to considerably up his performance levels. Meanwhile, Hull KR have impressed so far this season and in Blake Green, look to have a creative outlet to support Michael Dobson. Still, a price in the 1.1s should practically never be backed in Rugby League.

Huddersfield v Hull FC is another similar game where the home side do look too short. However, both sides are coming off disappointing results which can look to improve a team’s focus and so Huddersfield should be able to guard against complacency and ease home. 1.3 should be too short for Huddersfield given Hull’s natural skill levels, but they have so far shown nothing this season to suggest that they should challenge Huddersfield. However, again, I feel that Hull would be the better value here, although I won’t be running to back them.

Finally, we have last week’s 1.1 winners, Wakefield, hosting Salford. And Wakefield are currently trading in the 1.5s. This reminds me of a series of games in 2009 where Bradford hosted Harlequins at home and were around 1.3 to win. They lost. The very next weekend the game was played at Harlequins, and the Quins were the favourites. They lost.

One result does not necessarily make a team any more or less likely to win the next game. It can show indicators of why a team may win, it may even help to improve confidence but it should not produce the swing that it does.

A quick look at Wakefield’s squad listings show several young players who do not have the talent to consistently play at this level. Yes, they do have the ability to win and yes they do have a coach who is excellent in the underdog situation and historically gets his team off to a good start. However, when the whistle is blown, it comes down to the 17 individuals taking part in thousands of random events and whilst anything can happen which is why the underdogs are usually a good blind position, more often than not, it is talent that shines through.

As for Salford, they have been dreadful this season, conceding 96 points. However, it is too soon to tell whether this is as the coach does not have the dressing room (which would be a massive factor) or whether they have just had two bad games, which can happen.

On paper, Salford are the far better team and therefore I would make them favourites although the wildcard of Wakefield’s new owners and an expected bumper crowd would usually make this game one worth avoiding. However, if Wakefield can be laid in the region of 1.5, then that is a price which screams overreaction and usually, that is where money can be made.

So there are my quick thoughts on the upcoming weekend of rugby league. As always, there’s a chance I could be totally wrong, and I would not be surprised, but if you throw enough mud, sometimes something can stick.

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