The Cumberland Throw

Defeating The Sea Eagles – How Sweet It Is!

On a damp Friday night, August 5th 2016, the Parramatta Eels achieved another on-field milestone that defied further off-field headlines. Victory over arch-rivals, the Sea Eagles, was just the tonic for a supporter base that has been bashed from pillar to post this year. For those Eels fans fortunate enough to be in attendance, the against-the-odds win had us yelling ourselves hoarse in recognition of a team that finds new levels of resilience on a weekly basis.

This Eels team thoroughly deserved this tenacious 10 points to 9 victory. Here’s why:

Relentless Defence

The commitment of this Eels team to keep turning up for each other is clearly evident in their defensive performances. Tonight was no exception.

Firstly, Parramatta were incredibly successful in shutting down future superstar, Tom Trbojevic. Tommy Turbo is a genuine star of the future and his form has been outstanding in recent weeks. Since taking over from Stewart, the young flier has excelled at fullback, proving to be a constant menace whenever Manly were in possession….. until tonight.

Trbojevic  was contained by a defensive unit that allowed him very little room to move. In fact, he rarely seemed to get the opportunity to hit top gear. The key to this was good initial contact. Opposition defences usually have difficulty with his undoubted core strength, enabling him to bust through tackles and accelerate into open spaces. He did not enjoy such moments at all last night.

Yet the game plan around the young star was obviously more than that.

The Game Plan

The kicking game from the Eels had some ordinary moments, but we saw its effectiveness in the first half and to me the plan was revealed. The ball was to be put along the ground to Trbojevic and in the air to the wingers. The Manly wingers aren’t renowned for their ability in the air, whereas Trbojevic is a tall fullback with great hands. Consequently we saw little of young Turbo climbing above the pack and a number of re-starts from under the posts.

The Parramatta defence was also prepared for Cherry-Evans and his switch plays through and on the edge of the rucks. The Sea Eagles have enjoyed recent success through powerful angled runs off DCE, whether it be Trbojevic or one of the back rowers. Last night we witnessed both Manly halves searching fruitlessly for runners and the line breaks just didn’t happen. They seemed to drift cross-field far too often and became the target for some heavy hits for Eels forwards.

This is not to say that the Manly forwards did not bend the Eels defence. Through quick play the balls, they often gained a genuine roll-on through the ruck (though I do have an issue with the different standards applied to both teams in the tackle). However, for all of these moments of ascendency, the Sea Eagles could only cross the Eels line via a dart from dummy-half. This in itself was a great tribute to the Parramatta defence.

French The Freak (Le-Freak!)

I shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the young bloke, but how can you ignore two inspired plays that ultimately provided the difference between winning and losing?

His first half try was created out of nothing and was the epitome of how this bloke can produce plays that few others can. The acceleration from a standing start and the instinct to put on a kick and chase was a reminder to everyone that French is a natural footballer. It’s also obvious that he has a coach who encourages him to play what’s in front of him. What great faith Arthur places in this precocious young talent!

French, " Le-Freak"

French, ” Le-Freak”

Other significant moments followed for French. Minutes after his try, French shut down a certain Manly tfour pointer with a timely intercept. He added some cream with important kick chases that reminded his wing opponents of the constant threat that he provided.

Significantly, his switch to fullback late in the match provided Eels fans with a possible glimpse into the future. Next year shapes as a decision between French and Gutherson for the fullback position. Circumstances don’t allow for the versatile Gutho to trial there at the moment, so Arthur has obviously worked French’s rehearsal into the match plan. This should be applauded.

The Standouts

There’s been plenty of criticism of the lack of flashy moments in this game. As a Parramatta fan in attendance I cannot agree. The tension at the game was palpable, and certainly enhanced through some questionable refereeing. (On a side note I was astounded to hear Barrett complain about one key decision costing Manly the match. After a first half receiving every 50/50 decision and being allowed to slow up the ruck all night, Manly had no right to question an obvious off the ball indiscretion.)

Again the Parramatta forwards were outstanding. As a unit, they are a fearless group of workaholics. Perhaps they don’t smash through the opposition ruck as much as some fans want to see, but there’s few opportunities that are given up to the opposition attack. Certainly Kenny Edwards and Manu Ma’u create their own brand of danger out wide.

I’ve already waxed lyrical about French and last night provided another example of the skill and passion that Gutherson brings to the team. However, I’ll put this win down to the defensive commitment of our pack and as such, singling out a man of the match is far too difficult.

A Final Word

The standing ovation that greeted the announcement of Brad Arthur’s contract extension was something that deserved special mention. This bloke is Parramatta to his core and our future is in great hands with him at the helm.

Brad Arthur signs the contact extension

Brad Arthur signs the contact extension

The announcement, and indeed the efforts of these players, deserved a far greater attendance. I must be honest in being disappointed in the crowd numbers. In all of my years watching the Eels I cannot recall seeing a smaller roll-up for an Eels vs Manly clash. This Parramatta team has secured two more victories than last year and warrant our support.

Again, the resilience and pride in performance has been in evidence all year and this clash with Manly was no exception. I was proud to wear my colours last night and I urge my fellow supporters to fill Pirtek Stadium for our last ever match at the ground.

Eels forever!


All images courtesy of the Parramatta Eels and the NRL


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14 thoughts on “Defeating The Sea Eagles – How Sweet It Is!

  1. Grunta 'what other site?' Potato

    Robson is the perfect player to mentor French and turn him into one of the greatest halves we have seen 😉

      1. Colin Hussey

        With the agreement/signing of Fogarty for next year, the 6 & 7 positions are going to be quite interesting to say the least. I would not have minded adding Greene to the ranks but read he’s signed with the seagulls next year. With Norman back on deck, we have the 6 covered, so with Fogarty, possibly Cornish given another year following his injury riddled year, there may be some competition, with Robbo getting an extra year, if he wants it.

        The only question for me is outside of Robbo, & Norman 26 next year with Fogarty next at 23, & then Cornish if he stays a couple of months younger. So here’s hopping that area will be a bit better next year.

  2. Colin Hussey

    60’s, hard to disagree, I thought the hit by Lussick on Pritchard that finished his night should have at least been a penalty, not a play on.
    Out of all the refs we have had for a while now I though last nights whistle was pretty fair really, sure he could have hit the rucks a bit harder but it would have taken away from the game.

    The one big thing I was glad to finally see was the penalty goals being taken, too many times in the past we have lost games by not opting to take them, could have got at least 2 other goals as well.

    Tepai, had a huge game, for mine, Edwards with that tap & run was incredible, shades of parra letting other teams do that to us at Mudgee a couple of years back.. Having two tries not awarded, the French one good call, & the other one, I was surprised only 2 angles were viewed, to knock it back.
    I honestly believe that as a result of last nights win, on & off the field (BA’s signing) gives us a look into the future, does not matter what position he plays in, I doubt that we will French in any grade except top, unless he develops a bad case of 2nd year syndrome which I hope he doesn’t.

    1. sixties Post author

      Edwards had a massive game mate. It was great to watch. Not sure if you were at the game, but the Sea Eagles were frequently off side and merely got the usual wave back. There was also a discernible difference in the ruck speed afforded to both teams.
      Anyway, visit the Silvertails website. They believe that the Eels receive favourable treatment from the NRL and were gifted last night’s win! It makes for astounding reading. They are a strange and delusional breed over there!

  3. The rev aka Snedden

    I’m very happy about brad “king”Arthur re-signing.
    Now it’s time we signed a halfback if its Adam Reynolds I don’t care as he is a goal kicker n a halfback. As for last nights win it was fantastic …do I care by how my we won …no any win vs manly is a good win. Even better on there patch.

  4. Joe Briffa

    Hi mate, good to see you last night. Just a short comment about the presser from Barrett last night, for a first grade coach I thought he was disgraceful almost to the point of crying after all he was an international for heavens sake, he should take a leaf out of BA’s book.Like you my voice isn’t the best today.

    1. sixties Post author

      Yes mate, good to see you too. Shame you didn’t get back over to the club after the game. I caught up with Anthony Field at the Firehouse.. Talked about the great things that BA has done throughout the Parra system. Champion bloke. Really enjoyable way to share a post match beer.

  5. Jim

    The Eels game was played with real ARTHURTUDE. This man has turned a team known for having a soft under belly into the team that just doesn’t play soft at all. Barrett has no right to whinge about anything as the refs did all they could in the first half to get them in front. I just wish we could of mathematically knocked Manly out of finals contention like we did last season. Don’t worry about match fixing by Manly player’s, We win against them with good old fashion hard footy. What’s that, 5 wins in a row against them. To the 15 other teams in the comp, Brace yourself for 2017 because the Eels are going to make up for previous seasons & you are all going to know about it.

  6. Brad

    great match report.
    I agree that its crazy to ridicule the team’s performance for being unimaginative and lacking in attacking play for 3 reasons:
    1. Defensive footy is winning footy. The best teams know how to grind out a win
    2. We simply have to play to our strengths at the moment and without a match winning half (with respect to Robson, who is a grafting type of halfback) we have to “find a way to win” as we keep hearing the coach say. Not nearly enough credit is being given to a side that is playing without critical attacking players. Had Corey Norman been playing the other night, we probably would have scored 2 or 3 more tries and Radrardra would have been worth at least one more.
    3. We actually crossed the stripe twice more than Manly in that game. Admittedly both were fairly disallowed tries, but it angered me to hear Gould constantly refer to us providing no threat in attack when we did cross their try line 3 times.

    And I was also maddened to hear Barrett have a whinge. Manly got an absolute dream run with the whistle in the first half, gifting them a lead at half time that they really didn’t deserve. The good coaches bottle up those frustrations and recognise that a game is not won in the 75th minute when a penalty is blown. Manly could have won the game 10x over were they good enough.

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks Brad and your detailed response is also appreciated. Totally agree with it. Barrett should be more concerned with the lack of discipline in his own player who puts on a late cheap shot on a player not in possession – and the smallest player on the field – virtually gifting the Eels the win. A dumb play followed by a dumb criticism.

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