The Cumberland Throw

Whisky Musings – Round 12: Now For The Last Stand

Round 12 Drink Of Choice – Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

 

Margin Of Error – 1 Game

 

Effort less execution. Effortless execution. The small but critical distinction that a single press of the space bar can create. Unfortunately for the stalwart fans of the Blue & Gold and their battered group of players it was very much a case of the former on Thursday night…as it has been for most of the year.

In perhaps what was the most bitterly frustrating loss of this tough season, the Eels fought back from an early sin-binning and a 12-2 deficit to give the Brisbane Broncos a genuine fight. A litany of squandered scoring opportunities and an officiating effort that left a great deal to be desired combined to scupper any hope of a comeback.

Parramatta remain stranded in 16th position as a result and now cling to margin of error of just a single game. For the relentless optimists out there the finals are still just an improbability and not an impossibility.

 

The Impact Of Klein-ate Change

 

I find it impossible to speak about the outcome of the game without first calling the standard of officiating into question. The Parramatta Eels still had opportunities to win in spite of some diabolical calls and no-calls but the last thing a team that is battling its own demons needs it to be getting hosed from the officials.

From Brisbane’s second try which featured an obvious forward pass to a forward pass from dummy half near halfway so blatant that it ushered in a silence to the Fox Sports commentary team. It all contrasted so starkly with a number of line-ball passes by the Eels that were immediately pulled up at crucial times. I don’t mind if officials choose to either be lenient or crack-down on the 50/50 balls in a given game but if you are going to let the boys play, let both teams get the same concessions.

Perhaps the crowning moment was a spectacular defensive play by Joe Ofahengaue in which he clearly stripped Michael Jennings from behind to save a try (only for George Jennings to ground the ball) which was bizarrely called a knock-on by the Parramatta centre upon review by the Bunker.

The imbalances spread beyond there as well. Brad Takairangi was practically assaulted off the ball in the pursuit of an attacking bomb in the second half for no penalty before conceding a crucial penalty of his own when impeding a Brisbane chaser. By the same token, Michael Jennings was clearly taken out by a defender in the first half when chasing a grubber down the right edge. No penalty was forthcoming of course.

‘Taka’ was at the forefront of another issue on Thursday night as he wore two or three high shots in the one tackle and still was unable to draw a penalty. Contrast that with the soft call on a high shot that led to Michael Jennings getting (correctly) sin-binned and it highlights an issue that many Parra fans will attest to – we get little way of traction in the 50/50 calls every week.

All of the above isn’t an excuse for the fact that the Eels are anchored to the bottom of the table, they have themselves to blame for that. However Brad Arthur has pointedly highlighted that fact that the Eels have lost the ‘big moments’ in their recent defeats and I can’t help but feel that on Thursday the officials contributed significantly to that aspect of the loss.

 

Clouded Nines

 

Switching the focus back to the team now and we arrive to one of the bigger problems for the Eels currently in the play of their dummy halves. Cameron King’s indifferent form since getting a reprieve from the Intrust Super Premiership continued against the Broncos. Three missed tackles and sloppy service to his play-makers contributed to the red zone inefficiencies on the night.

Will Smith on the other hand provides excellent utility from the bench but is probably being leveraged for too many minutes as the primary dummy half given that he lacks the nuance and finesse required by the position that handles the ball more than any other.

Even Kaysa Pritchard, who struck a rich vein of form this year prior to sustaining a groin injury against the Cronulla Shark in Round 9, has legitimate questions over his ability to shoulder the mantle at #9.

It is one of the most important issues that the Eels and Brad Arthur along with Bernie Gurr will need to find a solution to over the coming off-season. Options in the short term are sparse but given the season-ending injury to Beau Scott and release of Kenny Edwards, the Eels have some latitude when it comes to both Top 30 spots and dispensation to play development players.

This of course leads me back to Reed Mahoney. The young hooker may very well not ready to tackle a heavy workload in the NRL this year but there is a case to be made for utilising him in short bursts off the bench. The finals are still a possibility but the Eels also need to be building for 2019. Finding out exactly what they have in some of their young prospects and expediting their development for next season.

 

Who Is The Dominant Playmaker?

 

The messaging in the public this week was that Mitchell Moses was going to steer the team around and allow Corey Norman to play some footy from the fullback role. There were certainly passages of play where we saw this dynamic working effectively but the reshuffle came at the expense of the impact of Clinton Gutherson for mine.

Brad Arthur was pleased with how the switch played out for both Norman and Gutherson in his post-match presser but Gutho’s best moments in the game came when he rucked the ball out – something he does in his traditional capacity as a fullback. Norman had some quality touches and certainly upped his involvement as opposed to recent weeks but that also came with some momentum killing misplays during the Eels’ final surge.

At the conclusion of the game though I was left confused as to who exactly was the dominant playmaker for the Eels. Moses handled most of the mid-field kicking duties, albeit poorly with a predilection for the uninspiring mid-field bomb while Norman was the preferred red-zone option.

An important sub-plot to all of this was that the Eels had absolutely no-one backing up their forwards and there were plenty of opportunities for huge second phase plays that were left on the field. That is the massive opportunity cost that comes with playing Norman at fullback.

Just how Parramatta moves forwards from this point will be intriguing because I am not convinced this configuration of the spine best serves them moving forwards.

 

Forward Progress

 

One unit that has increasingly stepped up to the plate in recent weeks are the middle forwards. Despite coughing the ball up once Peni Terepo continues to excel in the absence of Nathan Brown and Tim Mannah. 139m off just 12 carries at an impressive 11.58m a tick and 33 tackles (3 missed, unfortunately including one for a line break to Tevita Pangai Junior) jump right off the stat-sheet and reinforce what the eyes are seeing – Terepo is playing with a hardened edge.

Throw in a standout game from Daniel Alvaro (128m, 11 runs, 48 tackles [2 missed]) and another vintage performance from David Gower (128m, 14 runs 29 tackles [2 missed]) and you see why the Eels weren’t struggling to make progress between the two 20m marks.

Manu Ma’u played with plenty of vigor and aggression on the way to a 172m/16 run game while Tepai Moeroa looked much better to the eye than the numbers suggested (90m, 9 runs, 41 tackles [4 missed]).

It is clear that the forward pack needs a little ‘something something’ to ascend to the next level in 2019. Junior Paulo is part of that riddle, hopefully another big bopper is as well but there is no doubt that the embattled forwards at the club have rolled their sleeves up.

 

Jinxed Jenko

 

It has been a horror three weeks for one of the code’s premier scoring merchants. Starting with a contentious no-try call against the Canterbury Bulldogs and bottoming out with a sin-binning and two bombed tries against Brisbane on Thursday…everything that could have gone wrong has for Michael Jennings.

Brad Takairangi had his own misfires on Thursday as well with a horrible decision to kick early in a red-zone raid in the first half but there is a question to be asked of how much longer you can carry ‘Jenko’ in his heavy slump of form.

There is no questioning his work rate on Thursday night mind you. 130m from 13 runs and a whopping 20 tackles (2 missed) for a centre is the definition of high involvement but Jennings has been at the centre of the aforementioned big moments that have fallen by the way side for the Eels in recent times.

Centre is one of the few position where the Eels have some flexibility to tweak their roster. Jarryd Hayne is due back soon while Kirisome Auva’a is available in the ISP. Jaeman Salmon and even Dane Aukafolau are more left-field options if ‘BA’ is interested in throwing a younger option into the deep end.

There is no doubting the talent of Michael but as with the rest of the team, the effort has been apparent but the execution and finishing has been lacking. The Eels need to find a way to turn these effervescent sparks into a raging blaze and perhaps a short stint at Wenty will help kindle that fire. I could also be miles off the mark mind you!

 

The Final Word

 

It was a valiant loss on Thursday but yet another game in which the fragile psyche of the team was made apparent once more. It was against this very team last year in Round 21 when the Eels won an arguably season defining game as they overcame an early two-try deficit to prevail 28-14. The circumstances on Thursday were eerily similar and indeed Parramatta gave themselves plenty of opportunities to spark a similarly epic comeback but between their own inability to finish things and some frustrating calls and no-calls they just couldn’t engineer a way out.

The clock counting down on their season has nearly struck midnight. There is but one more game they can drop before they begin to rely on the machinations of events beyond their control.

And yet the team hasn’t given up.

There is no doubt they are their own worst enemies but they are still fighting their way forwards with their every being. It makes for awful, frustrating and gut-wrenching viewing at times but as a fan, I can’t quit on a team that won’t quit on themselves.

If a miracle run to the finals is out of our reach I do hope we get to see some young talent blooded in the backend of 2018 but more than anything I just want to see this team heal and rediscover who they are.

 

There is some good news! PM has cooked up something special for the end of May for the beleaguered fans of the Blue & Gold. Hit that link below and punch in the code ‘take20off’ to get a whopping 20% off all purchases at SportFirst until May runs its course. If the Eels can’t be winners in these trying times at least you call can be.

 

Whisky Musings is proudly brought to you by

 for all your sporting apparel and NRL supporter gear needs.

Readers of The Cumberland Throw get free shipping on orders over $100!

Click the image above and use the code ‘take20off’ at checkout for 20% off all orders.

Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels. Stats courtesy of Champion Data.

53
Click Here to Reply ...

avatar
8 Comment threads
45 Thread replies
3 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
BDonAnonymousRoy fisherThe CaptainAnthony Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Realistic Eel
Guest
Realistic Eel

Peni Terepo has been making the same dumb errors at crucial times for 5 years. Can’t afford to have this bloke in a first grade side, no matter how hard he runs he specialises in putting his team under pressure with his shocking ball security.

Offside
Guest
Offside

He had 1 error made more meters then the rest hes the tyoe of ayer you want in the squad but he shouldn’t be the in your top 4 middle forwards

The rev aka Snedden
Guest
The rev aka Snedden

Snake I know it’s you so come clean pal. No shame coming on TCT. As for Peni dropping so much ball. Well remember when FFMM had hands like Peni yet no one complained. yet when it comes to Peni everyone is all over him like a rash.
In the end FFMM had very good hands. You see the problem is they Peni n FFMM received the ball late on run ups while trying to focuse on the players running at them.

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Forty. I am seriously of the belief that the coach and CEO need to speak out about the standard of the refereeing (for want of a better word) by Klunk. Pay was hit with a $25K fine and worked a treat for the dogs, and then they get a discount of $10K IRRC. The so called bias adjudication on Thursday night is nothing short of an abject disgrace that belongs to an under 5 whistle blower. As bad as Klunk was the dimbo sergeant up in the bunker was even worse, the linesmen also need to be pulled up over… Read more »

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

I just listened to the BA interview on MMM. It was a typical BA interview but I took three important points out of it including; BA said that Mitchel will remain the chief playmaker so the experiment will continue BA wanted a GM of Football but was overruled by the CEO BA has 10 players coming off contract and is looking to freshen the side with recruits. Obviously starting with Jr. Forty I agree that with the season where it is now it is time to throw a couple of the rising stars into the team to see how close… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Dunno bout going thru motions but theres 7 going thru exit season end

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Very interesting John, BA saying 10 off contract yet all the reports have a list still at 16 off contract. Tells me that only 6 of that number will get extensions, and pretty well confirms what I have thought regarding the numbers, between 5-7 for some time now. Thing is does he have another 9 outsiders in the can or ready to sign? Interesting times ahead. If Mitch keeps the chief playmakers role then BA needs to whack him around the ears and tell him to do more in the play making but most importantly stop the same old same… Read more »

The Captain
Guest
The Captain

>Was any reason given as to the no for a GM?

If there was a reason the only one I could fathom is cost. It’s an expensive role and is relatively new for NRL clubs. Given that part of Bernie’s remit is to bring the finances under control I can understand the path of trying to minimise superfluous roles.

If that was the reason, it’s now shown to be the wrong one and should be rectified. The proof of a good leader isn’t to never make mistakes, it’s to have the courage and wisdom to correct those mistakes once they’re recognised.

Matt
Guest
Michael Formosa
Guest
Michael Formosa

After watching Penrith the last couple of weeks and what great line speed they have it is very much what Parramatta used to build a great season last year. So the decision to let our defence/contact coach go to Penrith and watch them excel in that area while we go from bad to worse is something that needs looking into. The clearly messed up and hire Kidwell to try and fix things well after the season had started when we should have had someone all off season.

Tad
Guest
Tad

Not sure how others feel about the 10 minute sin binning rule but I think it is the most ridiculous silly rule which is clearly putting sides at a massive disadvantage for mostly minor indiscretions when compared with far more serious matters given a blind eye to by referees Absolute joke.Bit like hanging a person for loitering–The punishment should fit the crime-I could maybe accept a 5 minute sin bin for something most would see as being a legitimate indiscretion .

Chiefy bo
Guest

Why not look at the bigger picture and start talking about 19 as this season is long gone.

Nothing will change in 19 as there aren’t too many players who can make a difference who are available.

Brad put all his eggs into one basket for 18 and it’s failed. Now a total rebuild is on the cards.

Gentle has left and Murphy is going as well. It seems we need a complete overhaul in all departments .

sixties
Admin

How do you know Murf is leaving Chief? Have you been speaking to him? I haven’t seen any announcement about it.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Reading telegrapgh today and lurker item sort of vindicates defence of ba , 5 years in nrl,s hardest gig and people are starting to realise the club is still a basket case and the only thing keeping it from going belly up is BA, is easy to shoot your trap off but you need to know the facts first , he needs time to finish whats started with a clean deck ,2019 will show the real picture .

Milo
Guest
Milo

Anon where was this article?i tend to agree with your comments on this.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Inside back page bottom corner , and lurkerwebsite

Milo
Guest
Milo

Ok, have not seen Lurker but read Tele; small snippet yes. Someone has fed them i gather…..

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Milo apparently there is an article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun this morning talking about a change in Bernie Gurr’s role as CEO. The change will give BA a GM of football allowing Bernie to concentrate on other matters.

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Milo found this
Parramatta have come to realise that embattled coach Brad Arthur needs more help – desperately.

The Eels don’t have anyone in a football manager role, with the position filled on a part-time basis by both Arthur and chief executive Bernie Gurr.

The football department want Gurr to back off and concentrate on money matters and administration – which are his strengths.
They are asking for someone with football knowledge to come in and lend Arthur a hand as the calls for him to fall on his sword get louder and louder.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Colin this is all in line with the comments that he made in the interview on MMM. I said that 3 points came out of that interview for me and one was the club Mgt made the decision not to hire a GM of Football. The other issue for me and I have stated it before, is that the CEO and GM of Football can’t be the same person. These the two disciplines are counter intuitive. One wants to save money and make a profit and the other wants to spend every cent he can get his hands on to… Read more »

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

John reminds me of the character that Jim Carey played in the mask. Put on a mask for one job and take it off for another,

Milo
Guest
Milo

Thanks Col,

saw yesterdays column for Mr Kent. Thank you again. Interesting times; is someone feeding the media about this?

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Milo, nothing would surprise me these days about anything really. Problem with any ship is no matter how tight the advertising about them is, usually there is a leak somewhere on board.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Colin I mentioned Joey Johns on another blog .How do you think he could assist in some role?

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Anon, I really have no idea about Joey, he has supposed to have helped halves at other clubs but not sure of the success rate really. Of the two Johns brothers I believe Matty had the more footy nouce out of the two of them, problem is his altaego gets in his way. I would not mind an approach to Sterlo and ask him to come on board for a couple months to get the 6 & 7 into better working relations and just add some finishing touches to them. He might do it if seen as a temporary thing… Read more »

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

This will be an interesting response

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Thanks John in advance.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

I also think the forwards are finally making an impact, and yes it would be nice to have a couple of strong line bending monsters up front, although with the 6 interchange next year, will be a test to see what sort of impact they will really have. The spine though is still not as strong as it should be. Thinking outside the square somewhat, I’m interested on thoughts about Norman with the 9 jumper? That would allow Gutho to move back to 1, and when you look at players like Wallace, who was an ok half, now is smashing… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

They are making an impact Anthony—They are not as bad as many are saying I just would like them to throw the ball around a bit more with backup play.I think the 2nd phase play is where we need to go

BDon
Guest
BDon

I think it was the Warriors game, our forwards were one pass or one support player short of busting them on about 4 or 5 occasions. Against the Broncos, a young pack,we had them on their heels a couple of times in the second half but stoppages halted momentum. A quick trip to fantasyland,I thought Tony Williams running hard after a few of Alvaro’s hit ups would have created opportunity in the next one or two rucks.