The Cumberland Throw

Whisky Musings – Round 3: Eels Aren’t Contenders – Yet – But They Certainly Aren’t Pretenders

Round 3 Drink Of Choice – Dimple 12YO Blended

 

Wowza, there is an absolute smorgasbord of content to dissect this week as the Eels fell short of the reigning premiers 32-18. The Eels were in it up to their eyeballs for over 60-minutes of play tonight before a sequence of errors and a defensive lapse or two opened the door for the Roosters to put the game beyond reach in the final exchanges. I’m not going to lie to you all, the end results hurts knowing that we genuinely had them on the ropes following Maika Sivo’s second try of the night. We really were that close to chalking up our third win of the year.

There is huge cause for optimism mind you. Although we certainly have several important areas and indicators to clean up and even though the record books will be marked down with a loss – this game was the first real confirmation that the Eels are back, baby.

http://www.starrpartners.com.au/office/starr-partners-narellan

Errors & Incompletions This Week’s Teaching Point

While the final 15 or 20-minutes will probably stand our strongest in everyone’s memories, and for good reason, the fact of the matter is that the Eels invited the Roosters into the contest throughout the game on the back of soft errors. Starting with Daniel Alvaro and culminating with Blake Ferguson, both of whom committed the cardinal sin of losing the ball in the set after points, the Eels gifted territory and possession to a foe that were capable of punishing them for such reckless disregard for the ball.

Alvaro and Ferguson were far from Robinson Crusoe in this matter. Maika Sivo, Brad Takairangi and Shaun Lane all turned the ball over at inopportune times while a lesser criticism could be leveled at Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown for slightly misfiring kicking games.

When they held onto the ball the Eels absolutely had the measure of the reigning champs but as a wise and timeless nature boy once said – to be the man you got to beat the man. There are still a ways to go for this young but exciting team.

 

He Ain’t Semi But He Ain’t Half Bad Either

It wasn’t a flawless individual performance by any means with an error following a kick reception bringing Maika Sivo’s season error total to 6 while an errant kick ahead in the first half gifted the Roosters the ball. There was however a hell of a silver lining tonight with the Fijian flyer crashing over for two hard-fought tries to kick start his try-scoring journey in the NRL. 154m from just 13 carries, including a sensational kick return in the second half were just as important as Sivo begins to step out of Semi Radradra’s immense shadow in the eyes of fans.

Sivo is far from a finished product, so expect more troughs to go with the peaks, but his individual journey is a microcosm of the Eels in a manner of speaking. The talent in there, most of the production is there but the polish needs to be applied to cement himself into the final product.

 

Rough Night At The Office For Alvaro & Takairangi

Daniel Alvaro is usually one of the stalwart performers for the Eels while Brad Takairangi has enjoyed a terrific start to the season. Both were off the boil tonight though as handling errors, defensive lapses and in the case of ‘Taka’ some very questionable play-making calls blunted their effectiveness. Alvaro is a dead-certainty to bounce back swiftly but Takairangi might face a legitimate challenge from Jaeman Salmon for his spot at right centre.

We hardly need to enforce sweeping changes following a tight loss to one of the best teams in the competition but Salmon’s upside certainly puts him in the conversation here.

 

The Devil’s Favourite Demon

It is safe to say that Kane Evans has been a polarising figure in his young tenure at the Eels. A meager handful of solid games to close out 2018 hardly made up for a decidedly mediocre campaign. The towering prop forward has definitely been trending upwards over the first three rounds though.

Evans’ rattled off 126m from 13 carries tonight, running with vim and vigour but most importantly – he has stopped trying to force low percentage offloads. Alongside Tim Mannah, he is providing the Eels with a strong second wave of momentum through the middle. Hell, young Oregon Kaufusi deserves a shout-out here tonight for some bone-rattling defence and a quality offload that nearly resulted in a try.

Constant injuries have threatened to cripple Parramatta’s bench rotations for all three rounds but to their credit, the rotational forwards have absolutely stood up in this testing period.

 

Consolidation Now The Key

The Eels were plucky, the Eels were gallant and the Eels were competitive as hell but they need to consolidate on tonight’s performance and grow as individuals and a team. Some of the tape from this game will be sensational (Blake Ferguson’s try) while some will be shameful and painful viewing on Monday (Victor Radley’s try) but with two games left before the Eels christen their new home ground – they need to consolidate their efforts from the first three rounds.

Heading into Easter Monday sitting on three or four wins would position the Eels to make a charge through the Origin period, where they are usually relatively unscathed from rep selections, as well as welcoming back reinforcements from the injury ward.

A traditional bogey team in Cronulla and a mercurial Raiders outfit stand between them and that Easter Sunday showdown with the Wests Tigers. Banking two wins from those two outings would be massive for Brad Arthur and the Eels.

 

The Final Word

The Roosters showed their class and taught the Eels a lesson in how to close out a big game tonight but for 60-minutes Parramatta were landing body blows and counter-punches on the champs. For a team bouncing back from a spectacularly awful 2018, for a team riddled with injuries in the forwards, for a team fielding the youngest and most inexperienced spine in the NRL – that is a hell of an effort.

We fans have every reason to be excited about this roster. They are clearly a work in progress but they can slug it out with the best the game has to offer. Tonight may have seen them get dropped to the canvas after the Round 10 bell rang but come Monday they will pick themselves up and hopefully be better for it.

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BDonPoppaJohn KGreg Okladnikovrowdy roddy Recent comment authors
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Forty. Great summary, the atmoshpere was great to be at our first home game and only 13k there. The field looked spectacular, but with handing errors on both sides, must have been a bit dewy on the field. I was impressed all round with out effort. We just could not arrest the momentumn (perhaps we need to lock down and play tigher and just work for field position in those instances) after the try that got them ahead. Then teddy with his origin experience exposed out right side and played with us. It took those two very special plays. After… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

40/20 I saw alot of improvement in this team. If this was last yr we would have put up the white Flagg by HT. Not this mob we stayed strong for 65 minutes. We will learn more from this game. It was simple little mistakes like dropping the ball after scoring plays in our red zone. Daniel Alvaro n Ferguson boys please hold the ball. Ferguson’s drop ball on the 2nd tackle like he should be getting the ball on the 3rd n 4th tackles not the 2nd after a prop does the 1st. Daniel Alvaro come on buddy you… Read more »

sixties
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Nailed this analysis mate. The last paragraph – a work in progress – that’s what this Eels team of 2019 is. With potential for plenty of high points in this season.

Hearndo
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Hearndo

That first Sivo try had me relieved for him and the team. That second Sivo try had me salivating. Hopefully he’s working hard on his work under the high ball. Very exciting prospect

Poppa
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Poppa

Its not his ability under the high ball that needs questioning, its just a case of his inexperience in positioning himself. The two earlier errors had the potential to ruin his whole confidence base, but they were not that bad, definitely no worse than other handling errors that plagued us. I don’t think even he knows how good he can be, one kick return he did he bent his back and it was an amazing run….other times he is probably putting 3/4 in as he attempts to be mistake free and balance himself. Those early errors especially this time of… Read more »

Jeronimo
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Jeronimo

A couple of additional things to come from last night’s game: 1) It might seem insignificant given the scoreline, but we should have taken two points when we got the penalty immediately after Friend went down. Was a gift two. We took a quick tap, got tackled and the ref called up play for 2 minutes which allowed the Roosters to set their line. Brown grubbers ball dead at the end of the set and it’s all for naught. In these games where we are playing elite level players across the park, all the little moments count. It would have… Read more »

Poppa
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Poppa

Jeronimo, you summed it up very well. What you noticed in the first half was that the Roosters tried breaking us wide and we held up. In the second they saw that our real weakness was behind the ruck. Friend was starting to persue this and his injury stopped it. He obviously saw it and relayed it before they came out for the second. We dominated possession pretty much for the first 20 of the second and then it was “old parra” ……Yes nobody wants to say this but Roosters eased after that 11 minute onslaught and could have put… Read more »

BDon
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BDon

Poppa, you may be right, i’ll check those things out, I didn’t notice any glaring deficiencies, but for me, an error prone 15 minutes against a team that knows how to grab the chances and execute, was our downfall. Mr Wolf, Pulp Fiction, visited us.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Pops, excuse my ignorance but who is Austin?

Something interesting on the eels web site regarding the Wenty lose to the dogs on the weekend, was French playing in the halves and did a goo job, his speed was good and finally scored a try.

Poppa
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Poppa

Sorry Col, I meant Evans, god knows where I got Austin from, dementia is starting to worry me, I have so many problem trying to remember the Polynesian names, not to mention the spelling. Really bad when I get Austin out of Evans……it will probably get worse as they tell me …..that’s all right Pop’s go back to sleep. Funny thing I was in Brisbane in 1981 watching the GF in our lounge room and my Dad jumped off the sofa and hit his head as Kenny went down the left wing for the winning try. He was stunned for… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Mate, I initially thought you were referring to Austin Powers or the $6m man.

Interesting though, I don’t equate a name like Kane Evans as having much Polynesian content. Still I think his game against the chickadees as being his best for the eels so far, I just wonder how long he can keep it up though.

Milo
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Milo

Great summary 40. Could not have even tried to put it better mate. Sivo for me is a sensational and yes errors will come like with many new NRL players.
We will come back next week with vigour and as mentioned need to limit errors as mentioned. Do we know of any injuries?

DDay
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DDay

Great summary Forty. Plenty of potential there and another win or two before Cumberland Oval is re-opened will set the team up for a good run. A few untimely errors, inability to close the game out and Teddy stepping up was the difference. I like the offloads, it has added a dimension to the attack and the forwards held their own.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

I was out of the room for around 15 minutes of the last 1/4 just after they scored to go in front of the eels. At that point, and when I came back for the last few minutes we were certainly down the drain. Thing was that even in those last few minutes they still kept trying, also I must have missed the time with Salmon on the field so nil comment on him. I thought both Fergo and Taka worked pretty good together overall, however I think both over read some plays especially Fergo when he came in, which… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Very interesting musings Forty20. I will say it was a really good game of footy, regardless of the final score. I not come away feeling as positive after a loss for a very long time. While the dissection of the players contributions has been well covered throughout all the comments, there is a fact that did not dawn on me at all until I sat down to watch the game on replay when I got home last night… This mammoth effort was on the back of a 5 day turnaround. It could account for the mediocre defensive lapses from our… Read more »

Greg Okladnikov
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Greg Okladnikov

great summary. Just those 2 or 3 errors at critical times….the sets after the kickoff and the radley try. Plenty of positives to take out of the game

John K
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John K

Great summary guys, perfectly put. Go you EELS