The Cumberland Throw

Sea-Eagles Analysis – Control the Tempo, Control the Result

Eels fans would have been forgiven for prematurely booking their Grand Final tickets following the opening 30-minutes against the Penrith Panthers last Sunday afternoon, after dominating field position & laying on some lovely set-plays to build a 14-0 lead away from home, but as so often the case in rugby league, 30-minutes doesn’t win an 80-minute game.

It was a stark reminder to a team who have spent the last few weeks as one of the medias favourites, following an impressive trial blitzing of the Newcastle Knights, that nothing in rugby league is a fait accompli.

Bounce back: Suaia Matagi, like the Eels, will be looking to replicate his performance at Lottoland from 12-months prior

Moreover, it means that today’s clash with the Manly-Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval Lottloand, takes on even greater meaning. Typically, the first 8-10 rounds of the competition are full of upset victories from underdogs & lackadaisical loses from regular front-runners, as the proverbial testing out period takes place.

Ideally, if your team can come out at a 50%-win ratio or higher throughout this period of time, you’re setting yourself up for a reasonable season at the very least – so it’s important to at least keep pace if you’re not the ones setting it.

For our Eels that means a victory today.

The 50-minutes that followed our first 30 was un-Arthur-esque & Brad’s spray during the week has been well-documented & the effort areas that we have become well-known for over the past few seasons, were rightly, questioned – they type of stuff a bounce back performance is made of right?

Well herein lies the dichotomy Blue & Gold Army – Manly too, are coming off a first round defeat & will also be feeling the pinch to keep pace.

No one wants to start the year 0/2, but that is the reality for one of these sides this afternoon & a large reason why we will have to manage the threats in maroon & white accordingly. Let’s check out who & why.

Attacking Advantage: Bevan French could be the one to expose a tiring Manly defensive line this afternoon

Manly’s Threats

Tom Trbojevic: Turbo Tom’s ranks continue to rise in the NRL, with his kick return metres ever-improving. His upright running style makes him quite difficult to bring down (which lends itself to a lot of tackle-breaks) & you just know he’s going to be hunting for that offload from either his brother or Marty Taupau. Our middle third, particularly based on how our bench played last week, must be on high alert. Afford Trbojevic the same time & space we did to Penrith & he’ll make us hurt hard & quickly. However, I still think there’s a vulnerability to his game that we can exploit. I’ve noticed many a time over the last year or so that Tom has been making the number one his own, that communication between he & his winger can leave a little to be desired. Hoist the ball high with pressure runners between he & either of Taufua & Uate to put them under pressure! Either we force a mistake or we have them returning the ball off their own line with defenders in their face.

Jorge Taufua & Akuila Uate: Two monster men who will run for monster metres. It’s not so much a case of stopping them, as much as it is in limiting them. Given the temperature today, these guys will be coming in to relieve their forwards & take plenty of runs. The key for us is to maintain our line-speed & second efforts under fatigue, otherwise either one of them will poke their head through the line when we start to tire. The slower these men play-the-ball, the better, and just as is the case with Tom Trbojevic, the more these guys are having to contest high balls with our chasers in their face, the better. Both can be found wanting on second-man plays & I’d look for both Corey & Mitch to try & create plenty of 3-on-2’s against them, particularly given that they will be both defending outside of smaller-bodied centres who will call upon their size & support defensively.

Daly Cherry-Evans: The last year or so has seen a lot of maturity enter the game of Daly Cherry-Evans, especially when it comes to his ability to game manage. In part this was due to the presence of now Warriors Five-Eighth, Blake Green, but it would remiss not to acknowledge how Daly has accepted his role in running the side as well. His presence becomes even more pertinent given Green’s departure, as he takes the time to build a combination with new halves partner, Lachlan Croker. One thing that still remains very much a part of Daly’s game however is that he is error-prone when defensive lines rush him. We proved this ourselves in our sole game against Manly in 2017 & we’ll have to do so again today. Without Daly the big wingers & Turbo Tom can’t be unlocked, so pressuring the Sea-Eagles no. 7 is a must from our athletic forwards.

Frustration: The Eels masterfully frustrated Manly into error last year & must do the same again today

Apisai Koroisau: Continues to be a very underrated attacking hooker, who takes full advantage of lazy marker work. Api would have had a field day against our defensive line in the second half last week & we’re lucky that he wasn’t still based at the foot of the mountains to do so, because he would have. Seems likely to share the duties with Jackson Hastings today & it’d be wonderful if we could get his tackle count up as much as possible in this heat, it might just take the spark off his attacking game & help create in-roads for our forwards in the middle.

Martin Taupau & Addin Fonua-Blake: The two Manly enforcers, who both start the game strong, bring plenty of energy & second phase play. These big men are the two who have the real ability to get the forward pack over the advantage line. Both possess strong leg drive and the ability to offload, so shutting them down quickly with ball-and-all tackles will be key to an Eels victory. If we afford them even them any momentum or quick play the balls, you better believe their team mates listed above will be there to make us pay.

Jake Trbojevic: The Manly answer to Nathan Brown – a great defender, forward play-maker & energizer bunny. This man just does not stop. He’ll keep Manly’s middle strong without a doubt, but even today’s heat might take its toll on Jake. As one of the Sea-Eagles main attacking weapons & link men, the more we can fatigue big Jake, the better. It’ll negate the quality of his passing game, which has quick become a strong facet & aspect of Manly’s attak.

Trbo x 2: Jake makes up one part of the Trbojevic brothers, who must be controlled today

How’ll They’ll Play It & What We Will Have To Do

Manly will take a lot out of the Penrith playbook last week & will do everything in their power to stick with us, should we grab a lead. They’ll back themselves to outlast us & this will be a tight affair & competition from the opening whistle as a result.

The key for our boys will be to return to the composed, controlled football that gets us into winning positions in the first place. I tweeted following the Penrith loss about the irony of trying to play fancy after generating a lead in rugby league. The way you get a lead is often going to be the same way in which you build upon it & for us, we deviated away from that – a welcomed reminder that it’s an 80-minute game built on sustained efforts & intelligent play. If we do that, we win this afternoon – but it’s a big if when the conditions will create a hot, sweaty, fatigue-inducing environment. That’s why keeping your opposition off the ball as much as possible is so important. We did this perfectly to Manly in our round 1 victory last year, and a repeat performance will be much welcomed.

There’s no doubting Manly will throw what they can at us. Much like their game against the Knights last week I expect plenty of shift plays through Jake Trbojevic, as much as I expect there to be plenty of inside balls thrown to his brother Tom, supporting the forwards through the middle to test out ours in the latter stages of each half.


Mannah of Fact: Tim Mannah helped set the tone against Manly last visit & will have to do the same again today

Closing Thoughts

We’ll learn just how much of an affect the Brad Arthur spray had on the boys during the week. One gets the sense while listening to the likes of Kane Evans that they understand a repeat performance won’t be tolerated, so I’m expecting to see plenty of improvement this afternoon. The challenge will ultimately lie in our controlled we can be across the 80-minutes. Manly will stick with us, Manly will play for the 80. They’ll come committed. Our job is to do the same. If we do that we win, but if we don’t we’ll be talking about another lost opportunity.



All images courtesy of the Parramatta Eels, and Getty Images.

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7 thoughts on “Sea-Eagles Analysis – Control the Tempo, Control the Result

  1. Pou

    On top of the uncertainty of the early rounds, the heat adds another element of randomness. Does the need for possession mean hyper-conservative play in this weather? I think this is anyone’s game, much like last week.

  2. Milo

    I have nothing to say at the moment…..this is a worry, and yes i know its round two. Top 4 teams shouldn’t be like this.

      1. Milo

        Anonymous mate i feel the pain too but am resisting it. I have turned off tbh. It’s made my afternoon / week to be unbearable. Any update on Kingy..?

  3. Anonymous

    Todays game not even half time Manly 32- Parra 0

    Embarrassing to say the least, You can say anything you want regarding the heat but both teams have to play in the same conditions.
    Parra are being out muscled up the middle.
    That’s what happens when you have middle forwards who are so small and similar. Mannah, Alvaro have no punch what so ever.
    If Taka is a better edge player than Edwards I know nothing about footy. Taka is useless and offers nothing at all and very poor defensively.

    Brown is too small to play middle, Don’t care what anyone says, You put him with our other middle forwards and no wonder we cant lay a platform.

    Everyone thinks king Gutho will make a difference but unfortunately not. He offers nothing coming out of our own end in attack if plays wing / centre. So the only spot for him is full back.

    Hoffman, Ava, Taka, Mannah, All need to go.!

    Put Hayne back to fullback

    So much for a big year for Parra. Everyone was getting excited yet we are doing the same Sh#t as all ways

  4. Glenn

    Who decided to run against a gale in 37 degree heat. Be it Mannah or BA, whoever needs to be sacked! That and the shit selected team lost us the game. BA wouldn’t be so stupid to select the same team for another week would he?

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