Rugby League Betting 2
However, it is still important to be up to date with the latest news and it's always good to visit Sportinglife.com for the breaking stories as well as making sure you order the trade paper Rugby League and Leaguer Express, which is published on Mondays. It's a must for serious punters, with match previews, reports and news from all the clubs in Britain and Australia. The paper's website, totalrl.com is also worth bookmarking.
Favourites tend to get disproportionately backed to overcome the handicap, but the statistics from the 2003 Super League season shows the opposite course of action pays dividends. Backing the handicap underdog in the 168 regular-season matches would have been successful 55.9 per cent of the time, which is not a terrific sum considering you have to bet at 10-11 (52.4 per cent), but it does go to show the favourites are probably slightly overrated in general.
Using any rigid system usually has flaws and it now seems commonplace for the supposed underdogs to rest players for games they are seen as having no chance of winning, to keep players fresh for matches in which they have a more realistic hope of victory.
That can often lead to handicaps in the range of -24 or -26 for teams such as Bradford, Leeds and St Helens to overcome and these matches are best treated with maximum caution. On paper, the big clubs would be expected to score points at will, yet you must remember players and coaches are totally uninterested in covering handicaps and will often ease off in the latter stages.
Take Leeds v Salford in round 12 of Super League 2004 as an example. Leeds, who were 28-point favourites, had got to the handicap mark by the 36th minute. However, the final score ended up 34-6 as coach Tony Smith reshuffled the pack to the chagrin of those punters who had fancied the Rhinos to run up a cricket score.
But then two days later, Hull, who were similar handicap jollies to bash Widnes, refused to rest on their laurels and won 70-4 despite leading by just two more points than Leeds were ahead of Salford at half-time.
It's difficult enough trying to pick winners at the best of times so don't make life more difficult by trying to work out the players' mentality unless there is an obvious reason why a team might hold back - an important Cup match being next up, for example.
It is generally best to stick to the more competitive fixtures where the handicap line gives the impression both teams will be trying until the 80th minute.