Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

The Road to Riches Weekend of 24-25th February

Posted on 22 Feb 2024 09:07 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Chepstow, Kempton and Newcastle and on the all-weather at Chelmsford City and Southwell.
  • Football, The Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool. Premier League fixtures include Arsenal v Newcastle United.
  • Rugby Union, the third round of the Six Nations including Scotland v England.
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India continues, the fourth test match in Ranchi.
  • Golf, the Classic in the Palm Beaches on the USPGA and the SDC Championship on the DP World Tour.
  • Tennis, ATP Opens in Dubai, Chile and Mexico.

Cheltenham Festival Package Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th March

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival Package is now live on the site. The cost is £199 for all of Neil’s bets over the festival, and the package sign-up can be found here  

We also have two pairs of Club tickets for the Cheltenham Festival to give away, for Day 1 (Tuesday 12th March, two tickets)  and Day 2 (Wednesday 13th March, two tickets). To go into a free draw for a pair just sign up to our Cheltenham Package on the link above by this Sunday, 25th February. Good Luck!


Free Tip

Six Nations Round 3 Scotland v England 4.45pm Saturday

England have not beaten Scotland since 2020, losing the past three meetings with their oldest rivals.

Scotland have one of their two games so far in the Six Nations, very unlucky not to beat France at the death a fortnight ago with a very marginal TMO decision going against them. That said they also missed a number of scoring opportunities and indulged in an aimless kicking strategy in the second half to really lose the initiative in the game having been 13-3 up. With hindsight Scotland needed to continue attacking when they had the opposition on the ropes, rather than merely park the bus and attempt to protect what they had during the second half.

The essential case for Scotland is as it has been for several years, with a very talented set of backs headlined by Finn Russell and winger Duhan Van Der Merwe and a competitive group of forwards. This talented group of players though hasn’t produced the results overall that their talent deserves.

Part of this has been questionable coaching, part of it unimpressive on-field leadership. Russell and Rory Darge, a young flanker, are currently co-captains. In both games this year including when facing the massive Wales fightback in Cardiff in round one, the side has lacked ruthlessness and probably some confidence borne of a generation of not winning much.

England have won both of their games in this Championship so far, albeit against the two weakest sides in 2024’s Six Nations Italy (winning by three points) and Wales (winning by two points), coming from behind in both games and especially against Wales finding a way to win amidst adversity.

England post World Cup at the start of a new cycle are obviously in a transitional phase, supplementing the remainder of an experienced core by introducing younger players having lost Farrell and Lawes most notably and currently dealing with major injuries to the likes of Tom Curry. The absence of a Test quality number 8 means currently playing one of the more effective forwards Ben Earl out of position and the side has missed a midfield “banger” whilst Tuilagi and Lawrence have been injured.

Coach Borthwick has unearthed a couple of talents in Ethan Roots and Chandler Cunningham-South and encouragingly George Martin (lock) and Lawrence (centre) are fit to face Scotland. What you get from Martin and Lawrence is punch and “go forward” and that could make a difference in these tight games in the remainder of the Championship.

What England do not have yet is an exciting style of play and you can't get the ball wide unless you have the punch in the middle, so let’s see if the return of these players counts. Even so, the England back three lacks pace and finishing in its current configuration though the selection of Furbank at full back ahead of Steward (brilliant under the high ball, but one paced in attack) is a nod towards a more expansive style.

In defense the former South Africa coach Felix White’s new blitz scheme is being introduced, a work in progress but showing signs of being very effective. A key to the game will be whether they get to Finn Russell consistently, or whether Russell breaches the speed in narrow areas and frees the outside backs.

This should be a very close game, and with home advantage outright prices have Scotland favourites, Scotland 4/6 England 13/8. England are +4 on the handicap having been +2 at the beginning of the week

At these prices, getting more than a penalty goal in handicap points in what is likely to be a one score game either way deep in the match, England +4 appeals.

10 points England +4 at 11/10 Bet365, Evens BetVictor, 10/11 generally available


The Greatest?

In the recent Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs became the first back-to-back NFL champions in 20 years and Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has joined Tom Brady and Joe Montana as the only players to win 3 Super Bowls and 3 NFL MVPs. Mahomes reached the mark the fastest of the three players.

Since Mahomes was drafted six years ago, in addition to 3 Super Bowls and 3 Super Bowl MVPs he has twice been the NFL MVP, a three-time all-pro, 6 Pro Bowls, twice the NFL’s leader in passing yards and thrown for an NFL-record 5,614 total yards in a season.

His play-off record is an unparalleled 15-2 and he has currently won 7 straight playoff games.

His status as the NFL’s best current player is unarguable and that has brought huge opportunities off the field too with a $500m contract. He also has ownership stakes in the Kansas City Royals (MLB), Sporting Kansas City (MLS), Kansas City Current (NWSL), the Alpine Formula 1 Team and businesses Whataburger, Whoop, and Hyperice.

This year Mahomes became the 1st Quarterback in NFL History to win a Super Bowl while carrying the largest cap hit at the position. He has trailed by double digit points in all three Super Bowls he has won. At the age of 28 he has to be seen to be on his way to challenging Brady as the best ever Quarterback

The fact that this non-smooth-sailing, problem-solving on the fly, defense-heavy version of the Chiefs (20 games allowing less than 25 points this season, an NFL season record) cemented the back to back Super Bowl win during their dynasty makes it all the more impressive. It was a team in which Mahomes had to dial in his flair and talent  because it’s what the defense and the limits of the 2024 offense demanded, with lots of check-downs and scrambling.

This was very different from the big plays of the 2018-2021 teams, especially before Tyreek Hill left the team. Mahomes can obviously still do that. If the Chiefs get their hands at another elite deep threat at wide receiver in the April draft, then the team is likely to be the Super Bowl favourite next year.

The 2022 and 2023 Chiefs were by common consent the two "worst" teams of the Patrick Mahomes era and both won Super Bowls. This team went on the road in the playoffs and took down both Number one 1 seeds. The Chiefs faced Numbers. 2, 3, 4 and 6 ranked offenses in the playoffs, which combined to average 28.3 points per game this season and beat them all. These offenses averaged 15.8 points in the play-offs against the Chiefs. It was an all-time great playoff run defensively.

The Chiefs winning with their current roster is a reminder that you don't need to fix Every apparent weakness to have success. Do you have the Quarterback and Coaching Staff? Do you have a few difference makers around the Quarterback? Then you have a chance. Mahomes and Kelce can carry the team through despite the offense being not as good as previous teams.

The last time the 49ers lost to the Chiefs, the team made a massive trade up to select a quarterback with high end dual threat potential, Trey Lance. The move ultimately didn’t pan out, but teams know that to beat Mahomes you need either:

1. A fellow superstar at Quarterback

2. His Offensive line severely affected by injury If you don’t have a special talent at Quarterback.

I think we will see more teams continue to go all-in to land those high end potential players

This is why I believe Chicago will and should draft Caleb Williams the presumptive top Quarterback in this year’s draft. It’s why teams such as Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Minnesota should be all over the other first round Quarterbacks in this draft, and there are as many of five of them this year in what looks to be an excellent draft for offensive talent.

A “good” Quarterback might get you to the playoffs. To beat Mahomes you need a great Quarterback, and some luck too.


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Betting Emporium results

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A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £71,656 a 1691% increase 

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 17-18th February

Posted on 15 Feb 2024 09:54 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton and on the all-weather at Newcastle and Wolverhampton.
  • Football, Premier League fixtures include Manchester City v Chelsea.
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India continues, the fourth test match in Ranchi next Friday.
  • Golf, the Mexico Open on the USPGA and the Kenya Open on the DP World Tour.
  • Tennis, ATP Opens in Qatar, Los Cabos and Rio.

Cheltenham Festival Package Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th March

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival Package is now live on the site. The cost is £199 for all of Neil’s bets over the festival, and the package sign-up can be found here


Free Tip

European Champions Cup Rugby

The tournament has reached the Knockout stages, with the last 16 taking place after the Six Nations in April.

I’ve already recommended Racing92 pre-tournament at 16-1 each-way. Frustratingly, along with La Rochelle, performed disappointingly in their Pool with one only win and merely crept into the last 16. They therefore have a tough draw away at tournament favourites Toulouse, a match between two top-four teams in the French Top 14 league.

The last 16 draw is as follows:

Toulouse v Racing92, winners at home to Exeter v Bath

Harlequins v Glasgow winners at home to Bordeaux v Saracens

---

Leinster v Leicester winners at home to Stormers v La Rochelle

Northampton v Munster winners at home to Bulls v Lyon.

Given the draw at Toulouse, I therefore began searching for an alternative bet for the knock-out stages in the other side of the draw, specifically in the Quarter away from Leinster who qualified alongside Toulouse as the top seeds after the Pool stages. Leinster and Toulouse, if they win out, have home draws all the way through to the final at Tottenham Hotspur.

Current outright odds are as follows:

Leinster 2/1

Toulouse 5/2

Bordeaux 6/1

La Rochelle 7/1

Bulls 7/1

Northampton 20/1

Each way odds are 1/3 two places.

Looking at the bottom Quarter of the draw the two home teams are Northampton and the Bulls from Pretoria. Northampton currently sit top of the Gallagher Premiership with nine wins from 12 matches and won four out of four Pool games in Europe to get a home tie at this stage of the tournament. In that Pool they went to Limerick and beat Munster 26-23 and now have home advantage against the same opponent.

If they win and face the Bulls at home in the Quarter-Finals, they have the advantage that the South African teams don’t tend to travel well in this competition, the demands of travelling distance often lead to squad rotation with sides having to juggle domestic and European commitments.

Northampton are a very attacking style full of young players now breaking through into the England six nations side such as Tommy Freeman, Fraser Dingwall, Finn Smith, Alex Coles and Tom Pearson alongside the more established Alex Mitchell, Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam.

I think they should be the side that plays Leinster in semi-finals at the end of a gruelling Six Nations campaign and after a possible Ireland Grand Slam. They will 100% be underdogs to win in Dublin but might have a sporting chance of knocking off the favourites with their playing style, at which point the each-way component of the bet below would kick-in.

8 points each-way (1/3 1,2) Northampton to win the European Champions Cup at 20/1 Coral/Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, 18/1 Bet365 and BetVictor


Hamilton

Just before the launches of the 2024 F1 cars, the back end of the off-season came news that Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari for the 2025 season, exercising his release option from the Mercedes contract that was extended late last season. At that time Hamilton had wanted a new three-year deal whilst Mercedes had offered him a one year deal, the two sides eventually compromising on a one year deal with a further one year option to extend it through to the end of 2025. That compromise sowed the seeds of an opportunity for Ferrari, who first contacted Hamilton last May, at which time he had said no, but his answer had changed in the New Year without a multi-year contract secured at Mercedes.

Even by F1’s lofty standards this is major news for the sport. Hamilton was a celebrity long before Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” made household names out of the majority of the F1 grid, and is a driver who wields his influence to address causes that have nothing to do with sport and therefore became a name that transcended his sport.

2025 is the last season before major regulation changes for 2026 which will see sweeping new aerodynamic and power unit regulations introduced and a clean slate for everyone after the Red Bull domination of the current era of regulations. It is typical for F1 pecking orders to change at such times, it being very difficult for them to do so in a period of static regulation.

While Ferrari have been up and down with their aerodynamic packages over the last couple of decades, their power unit has either been the class-leader or very close to it in recent years. With the power unit set to be a key factor in 2026 and with rivals Red Bull set to debut their first in-house designed engine in partnership with Ford that same year Hamilton will fancy his chances of taking the fight from a power unit perspective.

It is possible that Ferrari's development direction could be ahead of Mercedes which made Hamilton make an unexpected move. Ferrari was the faster car than Mercedes last season and have consistently made big improvements to their car. It is possible that Hamilton saw better promise in Ferrari's 2025 car than he did in Mercedes.

Hamilton will have looked at Mercedes’ development path over the last couple of years, how they struggled to add performance and he would have compared that to what he saw from the outside at Ferrari and what they told him they had achieved and what they could achieve.

Ferrari remain without a World Championship title of any kind since 2008 and have won just four races in the last four seasons all of them coming in the first half of last year following the last major rules reset.

Hamilton has a long-stated wish to drive for Ferrari. Ferrari's new team principal Fred Vasseur was Hamilton’s team boss in his junior days. The two have remained close ever since.

Obviously this is a major game-changer for the F1 driver market. Hamilton will drive alongside LeClerc, Carlos Sainz is left to find a new team and Mercedes is searching for a partner for George Russell. At the end of this season too Red Bull are likely to be replacing Serio Perez as Verstappen’s partner. Talented young drivers such as Lando Norris and Alex Albon can suddenly see career opportunities opening before them.

Hamilton won six World Championships at Mercedes and was worth billions to the brand. The valuation of the Mercedes F1 Team rose from $389 million in 2013 to $3.8 billion now and he will have give Ferrari the opportunity to leverage the company's unique limited supply business model and brand to drive sales. Whatever success Hamilton achieves on the track at Ferrari commercial success is more or less guaranteed given the mutual profiles of both driver and team.


StattoBets Dave Monthly Subscription - Soccer - Tennis - Darts

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Monthly subs are £50 a month and can be cancelled at any time. You can sign up here


Betting Emporium results

The detailed results page has been updated on 1st January 2024. They can be found by clicking RESULTS

If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £71,656 All bets have an ROI +2.97%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £71,656 a 1691% increase 

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 10th-11th February

Posted on 8 Feb 2024 08:34 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Newbury, Uttoxeter and Warwick and on the all-weather at Newcastle and Wolverhampton.
  • Football, Premier League fixtures include Aston Villa v Manchester United.
  • Rugby Union, the second round of Six Nations matches.
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India continues, the third test match in Rajkot next week.
  • Golf, the Genesis Invitational on the USPGA
  • Tennis, ATP Opens in Buenos Aires, Delray Beach and Rotterdam.

Cheltenham Festival Package Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th March

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival Package is now live on the site. The cost is £199 for all of Neil’s bets over the festival, and the package sign-up can be found here


The Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVIII takes place in Las Vegas this Sunday 11th February between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. After a profitable season so far our write up (including Neil’s prop bets) is available today (Thursday) for only £25 here 


Free Tip

The Six Nations

Wales went into their opening game of the 2024 Six Nations at home against Scotland with two full teams worth of players missing through injuries, retirements and ineligibity (players abroad must have 25 caps or more to be available for selection) and were forced to select a highly inexperienced team.

Coach Warren Gatland went into the game saying that he didn’t know what his best 23 was. During the first half of a game that was Wales’ first at the start of a new four year World Cup cycle the omens were poor. By half time the side was 20-0 behind and soon 27-0 behind playing a limited kicking-based game with a bad set-piece, aimless kicking, and limited carry forward in attack. Afterwards Gatland described it as “the worst forty-minute performance in my whole rugby career as a coach”.

Then they abandoned structure, changed players, tempo and pace and scored 26 points in a 23-minute period with Scotland down to 14 men and seemingly lacking stamina and fitness.

Next in the Championship they go to Twickenham this weekend as 12-point underdogs before playing Ireland away and France at home.

In terms of this weekend Wales are boosted by the availability of North and Rowlands and their ball-carrying and the team selection with seven changes starting players who finished against Scotland suggests that Wales will attempt to play their expansive style from that Scotland comeback, even if that wasn’t Gatland’s original plan for the tournament. This makes sense, as they don’t have the forward heft to go toe-to-toe with the English let alone Ireland or France later in the tournament.

The danger is that we take the second half for Wales last weekend and assume that will be their performance level for the rest of the tournament. Wales were so bad in the first half and the second half they basically ran everything but that shouldn’t work long term.

The likelihood must be that Wales will be going into their final game in March, at home to Italy, winless in the tournament.

Italy meanwhile lost their first match 27-24 to England in Rome but in Gonzalo Quesada’s first match in charge looked promising in attack, leading 17-8 and scoring three tries, finishing with a losing bonus point.

Italy were particularly impressive in the first and last Quarters of the game but lacked skill in the territorial game. With England superior at the line-out and displaying very quick rush defense after some early teething problems Italy spent too much time handling in their own half and putting themselves under pressure. There is still a lot of room for improvement through the tournament.

Italy go to Ireland and France this tournament and have Scotland at home. They too are likely to be going into their last match winless.

Firms offer a “To finish bottom” Six Nations market, ahead of this weekend priced as follows:

Italy 1/3

Wales 4/1

Assuming both teams are winless ahead of the final round, taking Italy at 1/3 in this market is the equivalent of Wales being -12 or os on the handicap in that game. It seems a stretch to expect them to win by two scores against any Six Nations team, even Italy and Wales at 4/1 to finish bottom is a value play in this market.

10 points Wales to finish bottom of the Six Nations at 9/2 SkyBet, 4/1 with William Hill, BetVictor, Coral/Ladbrokes.


Go fourth and…

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has become known for being very aggressive on fourth downs throughout his head coaching career and continued this in the most important game in Lions’ history: A road affair in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.

Campbell had outpaced all coaches in fourth down aggressiveness during the regular season, going for it on 34% of Detroit’s fourth down conversion opportunities rather than punting or kicking a field goal depending on the field position for the decision. That 34% meant the Lions were the most aggressive fourth down team of the 21st Century, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.

Campbell went for it on two second-half fourth downs in Detroit’s title game loss to San Francisco. The Lions failed on both conversion attempts, one of them a fourth and two from the Niners’ 28-yard line early in the third quarter, the other a fourth and three from the 49ers’ 30-yard line with roughly 10 minutes to go in the game.

Analytics experts regarded both decisions as sound with both marginally increasing Detroit’s win odds. These fourth down attempts did not work out the way Campbell had hoped. Detroit’s defense couldn’t fend off the 49ers and the Lions blew a 24-7 halftime advantage to lose, 34-31.

This NFC title game was a watershed moment in football analytics. A head coach doing anything and everything to maximise his team’s win probability is a win for the so-called analytics movement, even if it’s widely interpreted as an utter failure because the Lions did not win.

Through three seasons at the helm of the Lions, Campbell has refused to lose in a traditional way despite constant calls from the media and NFL fans for him to tone down his fourth down aggresion. Lions players have fully backed Campbell’s push-back against NFL fourth down group-think. That includes Jared Goff, who, like his coach, had no regrets about trying to convert second-half fourth downs as underdogs facing a high-powered offense that showed no signs of stopping in the final two quarters, bucking the fourth down wisdom passed down through generations of coaches who did not want to fail untraditionally and lose their jobs.

It can be argued that the Lions were not aggressive enough in the game. The field goal team came out with 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter with a chance to go up 28-7 an outcome that would have increased Detroit’s win probability by nearly 5% at the time.

Campbell wants to win. For that he was besieged with criticism from results-based analysts and talking heads citing the successes of conservative coaches from bygone eras, analysts who care not for win probability or expected points or anything that might be found on a spreadsheet, but only for what happened, for the final outcome..

During the second half the Lions saw a Jahmyr Gibbs fumble in his own half, a long Brandon Aiyuk reception off the defender’s helmet on one of Brock Purdy’s many would-be postseason interceptions and a critical fourth down dropJosh Reynolds drop: These things happen and were even more influential on the final result than the fourth down decisions on their own.


StattoBets Dave Monthly Subscription - Soccer - Tennis - Darts

Stattobets write ups, analysis and bets are available to monthly subscribers.

Results as at 1st January 2024 = points bet 39142 profit +2170 ROI +5.45% Full details here

Monthly subs are £50 a month and can be cancelled at any time. You can sign up here


Betting Emporium results

The detailed results page has been updated on 1st January 2024. They can be found by clicking RESULTS

If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £71,656 All bets have an ROI +2.97%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £71,656 a 1691% increase 

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 3rd and 4th February

Posted on 31 Jan 2024 12:31 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Musselburgh, Sandown and Wetherby and on the all-weather at Kempton and Wolverhampton.
  • Football, Premier League fixtures include Arsenal v Liverpool.
  • Rugby Union, the first round of Six Nations matches.
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India continues, the second test match in Visakhapatnam.
  • Golf, the Phoenix Open on the USPGA and the Qatar Masters on the DP World Tour
  • Tennis, ATP Opens in Cordoba, Dallas and Marseille.

Cheltenham Festival Package Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th March

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival Package is now live on the site. The cost is £199 for all of Neil’s bets over the festival, and the package sign-up can be found here.


The Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVIII takes place in Las Vegas next Sunday 11th February between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. After a profitable season so far our write up (including Neil’s prop bets) will be available next week for only £25 here.


Free Tip

Six Nations Round 1 France v Ireland Friday 8pm Marseille

This first match of the 2024 Six Nations could so easily have been a repeat of last Autumn’s Rugby World Cup Final. However Fance lost by a point to South Africa and Ireland lost by four points to New Zealand both in the Quarter-Finals. This after Fracne beat New Zealand and Ireland beat South Africa in the pool stages.

In the 2023 Six Nations Ireland won the Grand Slam beating France in a great attacking game in Dublin. France and Ireland are by some distance  the dominant forces in European rugby and the last two years has effectively been a two nations tournament. France and Ireland have shared grand slams with home advantage for both the difference between a Grand Slam or finishing second.

It isn’t impossible but, on all known form, it would be a big surprise for any of the other four teams to beat these two teams this year. That’s shown in outright odds for the tournament. France 6/5 favourites, Ireland 7/4 and 6/1 bar the front two.

France have won the last two home meetings between these two sides in the Six Nations. Ireland has not won in France since their close 15-13 win in 2018.

France are not in a developmental phase. 21 of the 34-man World Cup squad are in the squad for this tournament and the strength of the domestic Top 14 and the successful U20 teams (France have won the last three U20 World Championships) are producing a conveyor belt of young talent that is being fed into the senior squad .

That said France have important absentees for this match and tournament. The brilliant Antoine Dupont, captain and scrum-half is on secondment to the sevens squad ahead of the Paris Olympics and they have two losses in the pack in back row forward Jelonch and second row Meafou. They of course can still call on a world class core of players from goal-kicking full back Ramos to brilliant winger Penaud, veteran centre Fickou and the back rows Alldritt and Ollivon behind a huge front five.

Lucu replaces Dupont at scrum half, alongside his club partner at Bordeaux Bègles’ fly half, Matthieu Jalibert. The key question will be whether the scrum half can maintain the tempo and the link between forwards and backs that Dupont manages so effortlessly.

Ireland meanwhile are post the retirement of the talismanic Johnny Sexton though the remainder of the side is like France, experienced. At fly-half relacing Sexton the options were Jack Crowley, Ciaran Frawley and Harry Byrne who have a combined total of just 12 appearances. As the starter Crowley has to play flat to create the dangerous attacking lines and angles off fast ball. There’s no doubt he is a good kicker and tactician, but France away is a big first test to see if there can be continuity of style.

For the match France are 4/7 favourites, Ireland 13/8 and the Draw 22/1. France are -3 on the handicap.

I expect France will win, narrowly and turn to the winning margin market where France to win by 1-7 points is 11/4 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power and 13/5 BetVictor.

Other firms offer 1-5 and 6-10 as winning margins and Dutching between these two at level stakes at 4-1 1-5 points and 5-1 6-10 points with William Hill is an alternative to the below creating a smoothed price of around 5/2

12 points France to win by 1-7 points 3/1 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power and 11/4 BetVictor.


A love letter to Test Cricket

These days to admit you like test cricket is to almost suggest you are a crusty relic from another age. It’s rhythms are too slow for modern life and it usually lacks the instant gratification of a game moving to shorter and shorter formats from 50 overs to T20 franchises, the Hundred and now T10s.

Test cricket has been fighting for relevance within this changing landscape and been beset by franchise cricket’s effect on schedules, player availability and lower funding for the longest format of the game in many countries, that has seen Test cricket marginalised outside the top three countries India, Australia and England. Recently that reached its nadir with South Africa forced to select a third choice test team for a tour of New Zealand because of a clash with their own domestic SAT20 tournament, and we now increasingly see what were three and five test match series reduced to two matches by the demands of an ever more-crowded multi-format schedule.

So last Sunday to see two teams winning thrilling Tests away from home in arguably the toughest countries to tour on the same day was a great sight. It was ultimately One of the great days in Test cricket history and a reminder that you simply don’t get the same emotional ups and downs in any other format. Test cricket retains its capacity to surprise and thrill.

Taking England first they were 163/5 in their second innings on Day three in Hyderabad, still 27 behind India, when Ben Stokes got out. From that position to go on to win was an inconceivable result.

India had a 190 first-innings lead, there were not many runs for Root or Bairstow and England had picked an unbalanced team whose callow spinners had really struggled in the first innings. Leach was injured too Then came Ollie Pope’s 196 and Tom Hartley’s recovery. From being hit for two sixes in his first over in Test cricket and consigned to one of the costliest analyses for a debutant with 2-131 in the second innings he took the first seven-wicket haul by an English spinner on Test debut since Jim Laker with 7-62.

Bazball was given no chance in India but England’s win had a huge amount to do with the positive environment created for players. Pope could do what he did because that is the philosophy of Bazball: rather get out reverse-scooping than defending like he did in the first innings. Stokes meanwhile persisted with Hartley during the difficult first innings exactly as he had promised him prior to the game.

India had never lost a Test at home after leading by 100+ runs after the first innings and have now gone three consecutive home Tests without a win. This was only their fourth home defeat in a decade. Since the start of 2013, England had played nine Tests in India, lost seven of them and won only once.

The England series in India now moves onto Viskhatpatnam, Ranchi, Rajkot and finally Dharamsala in the Himalayas. Unfamiliar Test match venues and assumed in all bar Dharamsala to be very spin friendly and Tourist player difficult. It will be interesting to see what pitches are prepared now. Maybe India’s vastly experienced spin attack of Jadeja, Ashwin and Axar will have a bigger advantage on flat pitches given their skills in those conditions?

England's challenges though can hardly be compared to those of West Indies: England do not, in general, struggle to retain the services of their best players and do not face anywhere like the same financial challenges. So on Sunday to wake up to the sight of a team minus many players scattered across the world playing for franchises in T20, led by a young Guyanese pace bowler who only took up cricket in 2018 beating Australia in Brisbane was also a thrill.

Shamar Joseph hails from a village with 350 people. It takes two days to reach this village from the capital on a boat and Joseph worked as a logger, then moved to the capital and worked as a labourer and then a security guard for 12 hours. At best could play cricket only on a Sunday. First selected for Guyana in 2023 he debuted for the West Indies in this series. He bought an arm guard only three days before the Test. The West Indies were completely written off after heavy defeat in first test but Jospeh took five wickets on his debut.

In a tight second test, a day-night game played on a spicy pitch with a pink ball Jospeh suffered a broken toe batting. He was given the green light to bowl in the last innings an hour before paly after an injection. He then took.7-68 to lead the West Indies to their first win in Australia since Brian Lara’s team in 1997. Even better, afterwards he stated he wants to commit to the Test game not T20s.

The Australian Test summer has seen the home teams surprisingly challenged by inexperienced Pakistan and West Indies teams on tough surfaces with none of the five matches going into the fifth day. Australia lost a match at home for the first time since losing to India at the Gabba in January 2021 and suffered their first defeat in 12 day-nighters.

Perhaps after this weekend the leaders of cricket’s national boards might be inspired to redouble their efforts to protect the Test cricket format. It would be nice to think they have been reminded that this format's decline is not inevitable. That it can, still attract an audience, still provide compelling entertainment and be viable.

To do all those things, it needs to remain competitive. It needs to see these shock results. It needs to not be predictable and cricket is going to need to level the playing field distributing revenue differently and ensure the national boards can afford to see off the advances of the franchise leagues. They might look at introducing windows for Test cricket to ensure all players are available.

It might be a long shot, particularly for India’s BCCI and the ECB, but let’s hope.


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 27th-28th January

Posted on 24 Jan 2024 09:43 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Uttoxeter and on the all-weather at Kempton and Newcastle
  • Football, the FA Cup fourth round
  • -NFL, the Conference Championships
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India continues.
  • Golf, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the USPGA and the Bahrain Championship on the DP World Tour
  • Tennis, ATP Open Sud de France in Montpellier

Cheltenham Festival Package Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th March

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival Package is now live on the site. The cost is £199 for all of Neil’s bets over the festival, and the package sign-up can be found here 


Free Tip

The 2024 Six Nations

Ireland won their fourth Grand Slam in the 2023 Six Nations. This year in the aftermath of the recent Rugby World Cup there is high turnover in each team’s squad due to retirements and injuries. That's the nature of a World Cup cycle, pus this time several marquee players are missing chasing new opportunities. Antoine Dupont the French Captain for example is seconded to the French Olympic Sevens team, Louis Rees-Zammit is trying the NFL’s International Player Pathway.

That rebuilding element varies from squad to squad, and the number of players in the 2023 World Cup Squad still in the 2024 Six Nations squad is as follows: Scotland 28 Ireland 25 France 22 Italy 20 Wales 19 England 17. Scotland and Ireland should maintain some continuity, Wales especially have a very young squad and England are the most injury-hit side, unsurprisingly given the high demands on their top players from club and country. Only one team has a new coach, Italy.

The tournament starts on Friday 2nd March with the possibly defining fixture this year, France v Ireland in Marseille

It being a five match per team competition half of the teams play three games at home and 2 away, the other three vice versa. This time round both France and Ireland have three games at home, but France have the advantage of not travelling to Dublin where they were beaten last year.

France have to travel to Murrayfield and Twickenham, the Scotland game in particular looks a tricky one, but even without Dupont the squad is immensely strong with established players constantly supplemented by recruits from the highly successful U20 team of recent years.

Ireland have to deal with the retirement of Jonny Sexton and that first game trip to France but have comparatively little squad turnover and a lot of depth. With Wales and Scotland at home and a winnable trip to England, the triple crown is very much on the agenda.

England also have three games at home but will be underdogs at home to Ireland and at Scotland and France in a squad without seven of their Rugby World Cup Semi Final XV. Without them hit it might be an ask to expect more than 2 wins this year. For the longer term, following a World Cup semi-final assisted by a kind draw in which they rarely veered from the kicking and territory strategy, it would be good to see some signs of an attacking style emerging though the loss through injury of the form centre Ollie Lawrence this week is a blow. England’s recent record in the Six Nations is uninspiring with a 40% win record across the last three championships and 50% across the last six.

Wales have a 21-year-old captain and also are in the post Wyn-Jones and Biggar era. There are huge problems in the domestic game, and a lack of squad depth across key areas such as front row and the backs. A tough championship awaits.

As usual Italy are the rank outsiders, one win would be success.

Scotland have an established squad and a well-developed attacking style in which Finn Russell and the backline particularly two world class wingers operate. With continuity they are a dark horse to outperform their odds following three wins and third place finish last season

Outright Odds for the tournament are:

France 5/4, Ireland 6/4, England 6/1, Scotland 14/1, Wales 20/1, Italy 500/1

France are 5/2 to win the grand slam, Ireland 11/10 to win the triple crown (beat England, Wales and Scotland). The latter is my main suggested bet this season

20 points Ireland to win the Triple Crown at 7/5 with Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power, 6/5 BetVictor, 11/10 William Hill and Betfred

The other bet is far more speculative. Scotland are favourites to win in Cardiff first up. I think they’ll win in Rome and beat England at home. Anything other than a loss in Dublin would be a surprise. That’s theoretically three wins to match last season. Could they beat France at home mid-tournament to get a fourth win and a chance of a share of a title/the winner coming down to tie-breakers starting with points difference? I’d suggest beating France at home is a reasonable possibility this year.

5 points Scotland to win the Six Nations at 12/1 Betfred and William Hill


From Rugby to the NFL?

Last week’s news that Gloucester, Wales and British Lions wing Louis Rees-Zammit has chosen to attempt a career in the NFL came as a complete surprise, coming as it did just a fortnight before the 2024 Six Nations and hours before the announcement of the Wales squad for the tournament.

Rees-Zammit is entering the NFL International Player Pathway which gives elite athletes from around the world and a number of different sports the chance to earn a place on an NFL roster and increase the number of international players in the league.

To start with Rees-Zammit goes to a training camp in Florida at the end of this month and if he does well enough he will be allocated to an NFL team and into their training camp through the month of August ahead of the new NFL season in September.

With no experience of playing the sport and much to learn any new International player faces a very long shot of making a roster in their first year and are more likely to stay within the International Player Pathway for the following off-season.

To start with the IPP pays a fee of $50,000, getting onto an NFL practice squad pays $175,000 whilst the minimum player salary for a rostered player is $750,000 plus for a marketable player like Rees-Zammit the probability of marketing dollars on top from an organisation very keen to expand globally. Top NFL wide receivers can currently attract contracts in the region of $22-23m a year guaranteed.

Rees-Zammit is though to have turned down a $300,000 contract renewal from Gloucester and a massive offer from Japan to chase the dream.

Rees-Zammit has been listed as a running back/wide receiver intending to play as a hybrid player. At 6 ft 3 and 190 lbs and super-fast I would suggest wide receiver looks the most likely position where his speed and ball skills would translate well. The fastest recorded player in the NFL is the Dolphins Tyreek Hill at over 22mph in game. Rees Zammit was recently recorded at 24.2mph by tracking data.

As to other positions he doesn’t have a typical body type for running back, where payers tend to have a lower centre of gravity. Cornerback given his ball skills and tackling experience would be a possibility, but it’s a highly technical position requiring mirroring wide-receivers. Kick and Punt returner would certainly be an option, but the role is gradually being legislated out of the league for safety reasons, and its less and less a full-time role on an NFL roster.

Even at wide receiver, the task is far from simple. There is an NFL history of track stars translating to the position, the most famous was the US Olympic Hurdle Renaldo Nehemiah with the 49ers in the 1980s, but by and large these speedsters were limited to “go” routes and the deep passing game. To have a long future at the position a variety of routes need to be learnt, which very few players from other sports have ever succeeded at.

It's a long shot for Rees-Zammit to transfer successfully but at 22 years old we can understand why it’s worth a go. If it doesn’t work he won’t be short of offers to return to Rugby with the prospect of the 2025 British Lions Tour to Australia on the horizon too.

 


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A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £71,656 a 1691% increase 

 

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