The Cumberland Throw

Match Review – Round 25 vs Dragons

The final Eels home game at the stadium was always going to be an emotional match, not only for the current players, but past players and the Blue and Gold faithful. Add to the mix that it would also be the final Monday Night Football match, the scene was set for a bumper match. For the 13,553 fans that turned up, they would not walk away disappointed.

Stadium Farewell image

The First Half

Wearing black arm bands  as a mark of honour for the passing of Mitchell Wallace , the Eels were always going to be pumped up for a huge game to farewell the Stadium. By the 8th minute when Semi nailed Josh Dugan with a punishing rib crunching tackle that was finished off by Beau Scott (a mistake that Josh Dugan will no doubt never make again – never surrender in a tackle before Beau Scott) the Dragons knew that the Eels meant business. Up front, Tim Mannah and Peni Terepo were punishing the Dragons with some uncompromising runs, bending the backs of the Dragons defensive line and setting the platform for some backline magic. By the 17th minute, a glorious pass from Semi Radradra to an ever present supporting Bevan French gave the Eels the first try of the night.

Was this a foreshadowing of something we can expect to see more of in 2017? We can only hope so.

Bevan French opens the scoring

Bevan French opens the scoring

Parramatta’s second try came via some quick thinking from Kenny Edwards. In the 30th minute, Kenny received a penalty from a Dragons indiscretion in the play the ball. Noticing that the Dragons defensive line was not set, Kenny caught the entire Dragons line up with their pants down, scoring what could be the easiest, and possibly cheekiest try of his career to date. Even Corey Norman watching from the sidelines couldn’t suppress a wide cheeky grin .

There is only one Kenny Edwards

There is only one Kenny Edwards

The Eels defence held strong for much of the first half. It was only in the final five minutes of the first half, after several repeat sets, that the Dragons were able to post a late try to rookie Drew Hutchison. Rounding out a hard fought first half, this gave us a score line of Parramatta 12 St.George 6

 

Some First Half Statistics

PARRAMATTA  

POINTS                    –      12

POSSESSION          –      49%

COMPLETION          –      15/19

LINE BREAKS           –      2

MISSED TACKLES   –      8

 

ST.GEORGE/ILLAWARRA

POINTS                    –     6

POSSESSION          –     51%

COMPLETION          –     16/18

LINE BREAKS           –     2

MISSED TACKLES    –    11

From these stats, we can see that the there was not much between the two teams by half time. For my mind though, Parramatta scrambled better overall and appeared to have a better sense of direction in general play. Simply put, the experience of Jeff Robson in the number 7 as compared to his opposite number, the rookie Drew Hutchison, was the difference. Robson gave the Eels the edge in that department. Couple this with a solid and torrid effort from the Eels forward pack, bruising defence from DeGois, Scott and Manu, complimented with the solid (and often under rated) toil of players like Tepai, Mannah, Peni. The  12-6 scoreline might not reflect it, but the Eels were clearly more than a 6 point better side heading into the half time sheds.

 

The Second Half

A final scoreline of 36-6 loomed tantalisingly possible as the final minutes drew to a close (which would have had been a perfect way to finish the Eels time at the Stadium until the rebuild). The Eels were too strong and committed for the Dragons.

Tries to Bevan French in the 49th and 62nd minute and a try to Michael Gordon in the 68th minute exemplified the dominance of the Blue and Golds in the second half. Two late consolation tries to Kurt Mann for the Dragons gave the visitors a flattering scoreline, but they were never really in the hunt.

So with some stellar performances from our Eels, who did the second half belong to?

While it’s hard to single out one player in such an impressive team effort, for my mind, you can’t go past Brad Takairangi.

 

Brad Takairangi at the captains run for round 25

Brad Takairangi at the captains run for round 25

His huge frame was an imposing sight in defence and attack all night long. However, there were three key moments in the second half where “Taka” made the difference.

At the 57th minute mark, Kurt Mann was at the end of some brilliant Dragons attack, but three metres out from the try line “Taka” not only made the tackle that saved a certain try (and potential momentum changer), but he got himself into position following a quick Dragons play the ball to take an intercept from Tim Lafai as the Dragons seemed certain to score.

Flash forward to the 62nd minute and Brad puts in a superb low cross kick for a flying Bevan French to score his hat-trick.

But that was not the end of the night for “Taka”.

At the 68th minute, a sublime kick (with little room to work with) down the sideline gave Michael Gordon a try for his final home match in the blue and gold.

 

Honourable mentions 

Not too far behind Taka was Tim Mannah. Constantly chewing the metres with every run, Tim’s tough runs in the middle were nothing short of inspirational to his team mates. Add to that some handy offloads that were major contributors for two of the three Eels tries in the second half, and Tim Mannah yet again proved his invaluable worth to the Eels.

So too was Daniel Alvaro. “The Polar Bear” was as usual at his tradesman best. Coming off the bench, Daniel notched up an impressive 28 tackles and came within a whisker of chewing up 100 running metres in the game. Semi also managed to devour the metres, with Fox Sports stats reporting that he notched up 147 metres  from 14 runs (NRL.com had Semi at 174 metres), while Clint Gutherson continued to shine at five-eighth, a role that is normally the domain of Corey Norman.

Clint Gutherson looking dangerous in attack

Clint Gutherson looking dangerous in attack

Final thoughts

Win, lose or draw, if you could be there, would you have wanted to be anywhere else?

So many memories from the ground, be it Cumberland Oval, Parramatta Stadium or Pirtek Stadium. The Eels all played with heart, grit, determination and skill. Under head coach Brad Arthur, the team continues to play for one another. The PRIDE is well and truly back to stay in the blue and gold jersey.

For the near 14,000 in attendance, they can say that they were there “when history happened” at the final home game for the Parramatta Eels at the Stadium in season 2016.

farewell stadium

 

Blue and Gold Forever,

DK

 

All images courtesy of NRL, SMH and the Parramatta Eels

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Colin Hussey

Good read DK. I watched on the big screen at Wyong leagues 2nd best I thought. I have to say that I was dissapointed with 2 things, & they were the 3 tries that the saints scored approaching the break & full time, they were momentary lapses that seem to creep in with the team. The 2nd one is different but I had considered going to the game but when I checked the tickets I was dissapointed at the prices especially with the only seats available in all the ground were the end general entry along with those from the… Read more »

Griff

I brought a ticket for my mate in the eastern concourse, even with my ticketed membership ‘discount’ it cost $45!! Thts for 1 adult ticket – cheapest in the eastern terrace. Ridiculous prices!

Colin Hussey

Griff, I thought is was up the spout on the tickets I saw, the NRL or whoever has control over ticket prices needs to seriously look into them, many people just cannot afford them, Being on a pension we get around $10.00 off but could not see that option when I looked last week. The reality is that for a family, its cheaper to get a Foxtel account & watch on the box, $50.00 a month & you can watch every game, & the family ticket would be covered by one game, those who attend even the home games only… Read more »

sixties

Although there were a couple of early handling errors, I reckon you’d find that Peni would feature prominently in the coach’s best on field assessment. He certainly bent the line through the middle third. I’d also rate Kenny Edwards highly – every carry was full of impending x-factor potential. As for Gutho, hands down most improved in the NRL.

Colin Hussey

60’s, I’m no fan of Terepo’s but if he continues that form I may have to rethink the opinion though. For the first time despite his early as per usual stumpy wrist performance he put in a full effort in his on field time.

Gutho has certainly changed everyone’s opinion of him. although I wonder if his duds are holding him back, needs a size larger unless he’s auditioning for Penthouse in them.

Gazzamatta

After not attending a club game for more years than i care to remember, i took my place in front of The Cronin Stand to say goodbye to the old girl. The Holden Cup performance was terrible so enough said there. I must say The Ken Thornett Tribute was sadly much less than the great man deserved. Maybe because of the regard I hold Ken amongst mere mortals but I felt his passing deserved so much more. I enjoyed the main event and the atmosphere was great. Taka was enormous as was Tim and I thought it was close to… Read more »

sixties

Thanks for your response mate. I too hope that his name will live on in the new stadium. One of my great regrets is not meeting Ken. I had hoped to do so at this year’s Ken Thornett Medal. Unfortunately he couldn’t attend last year’s.

Colin Hussey

Too Too True. What dissapointed me more was that one game report I read did not mention the tribute was for Ken Thornett but for Mitchel Wallace. I did not hear the ground announcer but would have thought following Mitchells passing that it would have been for them both. Certainly, when the Mayor passed away it was very quickly announced that the eels would wear the black arm bands in a tribute to him on the last Pirtek game.

John Eel

The tribute was for both but focussed on Thornett

Anonymous

Hi there Gazzamatta, IDG was punishing with every tackle, one of his best games. Kenny was brilliant with every touch too. His cheeky try makes my highlight reel for the Eels 2016! As for Timmy, that guy is our version of Corey Parker … now bear with me on this. Why Corey Parker? Parker’s form just kept on getting better with every passing year. The older he got, the better his form got. Timmy is the same. The Tim Mannah of a few years back when he made Origin selection wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to the Tim… Read more »

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