The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 2 at Canterbury

Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels 36

Canterbury Bulldogs 16

The Good:
After last week, I didn’t know what to expect from the 2019 Parramatta Eels. Fellow comrades in the Blue & Gold Army only need only to cast their minds back 12 months to find both a distressing Round 2 loss (our capitulation against Manly) and a disappointing result against an underperforming Dogs side (Round 10).

Yet already 2019 feels a little different (ok, very different but I don’t want to get carried away) to Season 2018. I don’t know about you, but almost everything in the latter 60 minutes felt good to me. At the end of the day, it was left to a couple of random intercept tries (more fun than anything) to assure us of back to back victories to start the new year.

Also, how good are our new recruits going?

The Bad:
The Bulldogs glut of possession in the first 20 minutes started a rot that I wasn’t sure we could recover from. In short, the Bulldogs had all the ball and momentum and the Eels had more drops than the Sydney housing market. That first quarter of the game saw the Dogs complete 13/14, whereas the Eels were 3/7; with the Dogs running 797 metres to the Eels 286. That is not a misprint.

Nonetheless, I think I was dealing with it well.

But it was a half of two halves as the Eels roared back into contention in the second quarter, dominating possession and actually finishing the half with more yards (1021 to 946) in a much closer share of possession (48% to the Dogs’ 52%). Full credit to the boys for hanging in there and sticking to the game plan.

Nonetheless, the team wide 17 errors will no doubt have caused BA to lose whatever remaining hair he possessed, and prompt a coming spray or two during video sessions this week.

The X-Factor:
It was a good victory, sure, particularly when you consider the horrific circumstances we found ourselves in – down on confidence, possession and on the scoreboard on a hot day out at ANZ Stadium. To be clear, injuries aside I will absolutely take any sort of win. But I’m also a little wary of taking too much confidence from a game in which we scored two long range intercept tries and where our handling at times left us looking a little vulnerable against one of the poorer attacking teams in the NRL. Better teams would have put our sort of start to the sword, and no doubt something BA will want our boys to address.

On the plus side we somehow only conceded 3 penalties all game, amazingly bringing our season total to only 5. Whatever version of Rugby League the refs are enforcing in 2019 is clearly suiting our style of play.

The MVP:
Gutho went close, Reed and Junior were straight up excellent; but today I’m giving it to Blake Ferguson. The big bald bloke on the wing runs it back with less subtlety than a Fraser Anning memoir, and has made a huge difference to our outlook for Season 2019.


1- Clint Gutherson (c)

Fullback, Parramatta Eels

Captain Clint is certainly putting his hand up for a healthy contract extension, and which of you would deny him his claim? Another 15 runs, a tasty 174 metres, 2 tries, a line break assist, a try assist and 2 incredible try saves for the Lemon; including this cracker below.

Only Gutho could love you like this.

2- Maika Sivo

Left Wing, Parramatta Eels

The Fijian Scud Missile contributed as much as any other Eel to our car crash of an opening quarter. His carries were strong, but it was the two unforced errors that had a number of impulsive Eels fans measuring Maika for a Wenty jersey.

However, like most of the Blue & Gold, Maika recovered back to form in the latter 60 minutes, with his 16 runs for 139 metres and 2 tackle breaks working out just fine. Sivo also seems to be getting a hang of when to rush in and make the committing tackle on opposition centres and wings. I can just imagine yet another generation of young Fijian Eel fans singing the Eels victory song, thinking “I wanna be, I wanna be like Maika.”

3- Josh Hoffman

Left Centre, Parramatta Eels

In the first 20 minutes, the aforementioned Maika Sivo and Josh Hoffman were a deadset  defensive bushfire out on that left edge. But judging how he ran the ball after returning from his HIA, Hoff’s head knock must have had him thinking he was a forward. A prop-like 5 runs for 52 metres and a couple of tackle breaks highlighted a pretty solid back end for the former Baywatch babe.

4- Brad Takairangi

Right Centre, Parramatta Eels

Taka’s combination with Fergo is almost too good to break up, despite this week’s return of Jaeman Salmon and Jenko doing the same next week. A pretty solid 10 runs for 92 metres, 2 offloads and a sneaky tackle break for good measure.

Way to go, Idaho.

Ps – That pass for his first half no try was definitely forward, refs got it right. Don’t @ me.

5- Blake Ferguson

Right Wing, Parramatta Eels

A lazy comparison would suggest the Eels have finally replaced Semi Radradra’s incredible contribution with the new cult hero with the 2 on his back from the similarly remote Fijian village. However, it’s pretty clear that it’s actually this bloke on the other side of the field that is making all the difference. Ninety-five metre intercept tries tend to skew running metre statistics, but nonetheless Fergy’s 16 runs for 279 metres demands Eels fans stand up and pay attention. Throw in his 2 tries, 2 line breaks and another try assist and there’s already whispers of his name in “Buy Of The Year” conversations. Oh and he also finished with the game with an incredible 11 tackle breaks. That’s Fergalicious, def.

6- Dylan Brown

Five Eighth, Parramatta Eels

It was an auspicious start from the Million Dollar Man, and it felt in the first 20 minutes that Dylan was really missing his brother, Nathan. But that try from Junior to Dyl to Jaeman and back to Dyl was a thing of beauty. Frame this play and hang it on your wall, kids.

More games like this and Dylan will find himself in a wrestle with Neil Finn, Jacinda Ardern and Sir Edmund Hillary for a spot in my Top 3 favourite Kiwis.

Ps – If you watch the clip of his mid-week interview, you’ll see that he was clearly kidding about the million dollar comment. Lay off the young kid, Eels fans.

7- Mitchell Moses

Halfback, Parramatta Eels

Despite the dominant win, it was still an up and down game for our mercurial number 7. At times the Prince of Egypt seemingly parted the Red Sea, whilst there were still times where the team seemed to wander around the desert without any sort of direction. It certainly wasn’t a bad game from Mitchell (see the B+), but the week to week consistency across 80 minutes we all crave from him is evidently still a work in progress. To be clear, I’m very much here for him and hope he finds that form that clicks, week after week after week.

8- Daniel Alvaro

Prop, Parramatta Eels

Big Danny played pretty well today, running 7 runs for 64 metres, breaking 2 tackles whilst making 38 tackles of his own. Sure he dropped the ball and missed 3 tackles, but it’s worth remembering the heat doesn’t just affect Polar on the field, it is also slowly destroying his ice shelf habitat.

9- Reed Mahoney

Hooker, Parramatta Eels

Reed Mahoney is the cheese toasty of NRL players – satisfying, reliable and universally popular.

If you somehow still doubt whether Reed Mahoney is the man to wear the 9 for the Eels going forward, I’ll just leave this here.

10- Junior Paulo

Prop, Parramatta Eels

Firstly, take a moment to consider just how big Junior Paulo is, you know, for a human being.

In his 50 minute stint, big Junez got through 13 hit ups for 136 metres, 2 offloads, 26 tackles, 2 tackle breaks and, despite playing the aforementioned first quarter from hell in 30 degree heat, no missed tackles.

After today’s performance, it will be Junior demanding Napa call him “Big Papi”.

11- Shaun Lane

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

What a performance from our new recruits today. The tall glass of water ran for a massive 160 metres from his 12 hit ups, 2 tackle breaks, 1 line break assist, 29 tackles and a terrific intercept try.

To me, it almost feels like Shaun Lane and Junior prowling the streets together is like the buddy cop movie the world was unfairly denied.

12- Marata Niukore

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

A solid 11 runs for 97 metres, 3 tackle breaks and 24 tackles. Sure it wasn’t as eye popping a game as his Round 1 contributions, but Marata’s game has evidently flourished in the fertile football soils of Old Saleyards.

13- Tepai Moeroa

Lock, Parramatta Eels

Under an injury cloud heading into the game, I suspect Tepai was told to restrict his offensive contributions, only managing 3 runs and 23 metres. With that said, in his 43 minutes, Tep still feasted as he normally would on the defensive side of the ball, getting through 31 tackles, missing only 2. Hopefully he’s back to full fitness for Friday night’s clash with the Roosters.

14- Jaeman Salmon

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

After a Round 1 suspension, it was good to see Salmon return to the top 17 for Round 2, a place I suspect he won’t relinquish on the back of today’s performance.

Just the 4 runs, but 51 metres, a try assist, a tackle break and 5 tackles put forth a terrific 2019 debut from The Fish.

Regarding the tweet on the right -In a word, Kenny; very.

15- Tim Mannah

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Father Time continues to fight a losing battle against Tim’s 13 runs, 141 metres, 2 tackle breaks and 23 tackles. That’s pretty good for a bloke who debuted in the days of sand kicking mounds, cartoonishly large shoulder pads, and when the referees were sponsored by TNT. Fight the good fight, Timothy.

16- Kane Evans

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Building on from last week’s improving performance, Kane took it up another notch this week with his 97 metres from 10 hit ups, 23 tackles and 3 (!) tackle breaks. That’s good gear, Kane.

17- David Gower

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

David Gower is like a timeless classic. A huge 119 metres from his 12 runs, 17 tackles and a tackle break.

I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Gowbell.

Again, if you don’t like my Grades, come and see me in person. There’s no need to get my mother involved.

We’re 2 Rounds in and we’ve banked 2 wins; Eels fans are hooked on a feeling and high on believing in Season 2019.

In 5 days it’s all on again as we host the world champion Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

See you then, sports fans.

Go you Eels,


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

Also a big shout out and thanks to TTetron from reddit for the GIFs.

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Richard Cranium

Spot on. Can’t really argue any of that


Next week will be a true test to see exactly where we are at and where we need to be.
Obviously to play the Roosters we cannot play for 60 minutes but for 80. An old clique but very true!!

!0 Year Member

Anon, of course, but lets remember, we finished dead last and the Rorters were premiers last year. We only won 6 games the whole friggen year. To be where we are now is fantastic. Lets hope we give the Rorters a good run for their money.

Greg Okladnikov

spot on. A solid performance , and the new recruits are going well after what seems like a decade of poor big name signings ….we all know the list !!

!0 Year Member

GO, good point, we have actually recruited top talent on the rise and getting to their peak. Love having Junior back after the debacle of having to release him so we could play for points, Fegro is just AMAZING, and Laneo is a superstar of the future. Dont worry, DB and Cashman are also coming along. So not only are we recruiting well, we are bringing along junior talent. DB and Cashman had blinders today

Big Pete

A few good laughs this week. Looks like the new players are the right mix for our team. Great grades and looking forward to the challenge in 5 days

!0 Year Member

Seriously, how could you doubt yourself Fergo was MVP, he should be rated A++++++, his effort today was the difference between the teams. Furthermore, he lifted the whole team on the back of his efforts. 100% he is the buy of the year, unbelievable Uncle Nick could not fit him under the sombrero, but awesome Parra could see the worth in his asking price. He even set the tone in December sticking with us, love the guy already. He is a shoe in for SOO with his current form. It is irresistible. Go Fegro, thanks for coming to us and… Read more »


Agree Mitch – happy to take the 2 points. Some good performances but “better teams would have put our sort of start to the sword”. How good to have Junior, Mannah, Lane Fergo and Sivo bending the line, so much go forward. This is providing room for the spine – they each had some promising moments. Hoffman and Evans played well, good to have this sort of depth. We’ll need to be better next week but what a positive start to the year.

Bob jay

They did put us to the sword 10 of them to be exact but unlike last year we hung in and clawed back , lot of new faces in this side and they can only get better , i actually think weve finally got a decent spine .


We have a very decent spine.

It’s a feeling to savour after last year and all the other years of agonising mediocrity. I’m loving this winning feeling.


Very nice report, a joy to read. Also another positive, our depth, this team was missing 2 x Jennings, a Brown, a Terepo and a Manu.

Colin Hussey

I sat down at 1pm & from that point on I watched RL on the box, first off Wenty and dogs playing in the Canterbury cup, sorta thought after 20 a while it was going to be an easy afternoon, I admit to nervous times, up until the final siren sounded to provide a 2 point win to the maggies. Then watching the 9 yabba fest and the first 20 nervous minutes with us giving away penalties and letting the dogs get up and lead us by 12 – 0, then the comeback and what a comeback, even having tries… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Mitch, I am being realistic in appraisal, and only takes one bullet shot in the right spot to sink a trawler. The year ahead is going to have loses but how many and how many wins? Have said for a while now and still see the eels being close to the 8 this year, maybe in the 8 but its far to early to say so one way or another with full confidence.

I don’t believe we will be anywhere near the spoon though.


I could never finish exams on time, great write ups in quick time Mitch. Maybe easier this year, to date. Other than one poor effort, Moses’ kicking game was good, and Brown seems to have Norman’s touch with the in goal grubbers. Sweating on Sivo to break into the back field.

The rev aka Snedden

Good grades. Next game vs rooster’s do we make changes to the side ? I understand Jenko comes in for Hoffman but I’d give sivo the wenty jumper let him get more confident in wenty then bring him back up to NRL side. George Jennings in for sivo. Do we break up the Taka n fergo combination n have salmon as the other centre ? Can you confirm that the eels are looking to bring peni into the 21 man side ? On Dylan brown Parra should put a media ban on him. Let his footy do the talking. On… Read more »

Bob jay

Lucky we never dropped gutho after 2 games as the know alls wanted ,same for semi radradra , you learn to play 1st grade by playing 1st grade , i would like to think we let him grow into the role by filling the role but just my opinion , i think you mainly drop players based on lack of effort and thats not there , thought he saved certain trys both games with knockdowns , i think the players would rather back themselves to defend another 6 the concede 6 on the scoreboard but as i said just m opinion no better than anyone elses rev .


Gutho – from winger that too many wanted to drop after a couple of games in 2016 to team co-captain and “The King” in just a couple of years.
That says it all.


Yes, Semi’s early positional play and handling was a bit U8’s but he improved because NRL made him. One of Sivo’s errors looked like a strip the way the ball just popped out after the tackle was completed. He”ll learn to secure it better with ball nigglers around.Persevere with him.

Trevor Campbell

Yes Montoya raked the ball out and looked straight at the ref expecting a penalty. He jumped for joy when he saw he got away with it. The first dropped ball by Sivo was the very common one of trying to get a quick play the ball but he had three players all over him. The refs also missed a strip by Josh Jackson I think it was, on Marata Nuikore in the second half. Trev.


Just look at Gutho’s anticipation of Mahoney’s run in the above video. Perfect support play. I thought Clint was excellent.

I also haven’t done the math but I’d like to know Parra’s win record on a five day turnaround. From memory, it’s not great.

The chief

Miatch I’m going to agree with every one of your rating grades.
Special mention to Mahoney playing beyond his years and really choosing his runs well. Salmon will nail down a supersub position on the bench and looked comfortable at dummy half, but can play anywhere but prop.
We look a very balanced and settled team, more so than in previous years under ba. We can now match most packs as beforehand we may have struggled even in 2017.
I know it’s early days, but we’re now really on the right track with recruitment and development.


We have never wavered off the development path, and we have been consistent in that message on TCT. We’ve said all along that the young talent was coming through. They are lining up now. The next few seasons will see all of the years of specific junior development and recruitment produce quality NRL players.

Bob jay

Might add after enduring 6 seasons of a diabolical salary cap 2020 will finally be end of past mismanagement by board members and ceo,s

rowdy roddy

G’day Chief, good to see you on here again. I am pleased that you were able to give BA a backhanded compliment even if it was disrespectfully stated ba.
Do you give BA or ba any of the credit for recruitment and development now?

I will say you have shown more fortitude and humility by your comments than your slithering slanderous peers over on the other site though. Good honest appraisal Chief, keep up the good, positive acknowledgements.


When Ma’u and brown comes back who makes way?

John Eel

With a little luck we will hopefully have Peni back soon. Maybe this week. Will add to the attack.


Always great beating the bulldonkeys & good numbers from the the 3 bench forwards, especially the 2 old bald blokes.


Great work Mitch.

Chris Parra4lyf

Didn’t rate Evans as a B, still don’t think he offers above what Peni could offer in his place and would like to see him take Evans bench spot.

Chris Parra4lyf

b minus


Good result and we had to win it. Full stop.
Another week this Friday and yes we need to compete and improve in some areas such as starting the game; errors. We just have to compete as we did in round 1 and out enthuse easts. Am I allowed to say that easts are not favourite team like about 14 10 or so others…..

rowdy roddy

Thanks Mitch, your grading of our players are always there or thereabouts from my perspective and more importantly they give rise to other stimulating opinions.

I would only take you to task on Mitch Moses grading as I believe his job is not to be the star every week as that is what brought him and Norman unstuck in 2018. Mitch guided the team around the park with poise and purpose imo, which allowed DB to play off the back of the field position created by MM.

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