Will the Underdogs Keep Getting Up in the Early Rounds of the NRL?

Will the Underdogs Keep Getting Up in the Early Rounds of the NRL?

With the 2020 NRL season ready to restart, footy fans are beginning to dissect Round 3 matches in search of an edge. Whether it be to place a bet or win the tipping competition, no stone is left unturned. Team lists are pulled apart, the weather is checked and biases are confirmed.

However, there is one trend that can get lost in all of the hype around a new season. While the early-season talk is about the defending premiers, who can challenge their title and the smokey team that might upset them all, it’s the underdogs who perform the best.

Underdogs have covered the bookmaker’s line in 54.08% of games in the opening five rounds since 2013.

While they cover in 51.55% of games overall, it’s the early rounds that underdogs really unsettle the better teams in the competition. Whether it’s the elite teams easing into a season or shaking off rust, the underdog sneaks in and at least makes a game of it more often than not.

It’s already a time of year that thrives on false hope for most clubs and an underdog getting up only adds more. The good fortunes of the plucky underdog don’t last forever, though.

Underdogs keep close up to Round 10, but after navigating the lottery can be the State of Origin period, the favourites begin to settle. Players are comfortable, representative distractions are past them and combinations – in both attack and defence – have been formed. By the time September has rolled around and the best play the best, favourites have covered in 30 of the 63 finals matches since 2013 compared to the underdogs’ 31.

Underdogs In 2020

The early-season trend continued throughout the opening two rounds; underdogs covered in nine of the 16 matches for a 56.25% cover rate. Although, the 2020 NRL season is now a different beast.

With some teams not playing at home until at least Round 10, the Warriors living out of a hotel and a significant increase in pre-game protocols to navigate, this season is throwing up more variables than ever. Playing without crowds is another wrinkle to monitor and could well add weight to the underdog trend.

The NRL is always tough to pick and the changes to the season only make it more difficult. However, it’s worth taking note of the form underdogs have carried throughout the early rounds when filling in the tip sheet this week.

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