The Cumberland Throw

The Preview – Round 7, 2019: Eels vs Knights

Date: Sunday, 28 April, 2019

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Kick Off: 4:05pm

Head Referee: Grant Atkins

Assistant Referee: Chris Butler

Head-to-head: Played 53 Eels 21 Knights 29 Drawn 3

Odds: Eels $1.70 Knights $2.20

Broadcast: Foxtel, Nine, Kayo

Last Four Encounters:

Newcastle 18 Eels 24 McDonald Jones Stadium (2018)

Newcastle 30 Eels 4 ANZ Stadium (2018)

Newcastle 29 Eels 10 ANZ Stadium (2017)

Eels 20 Newcastle 18 McDonald Jones Stadium (2016)

 

The Warm Up

At this early stage of the season, these two teams are poles apart in their performances.

Tipped to push for a top 4 spot this year, the Knights are an Edrick Lee intercept away from opening the season with six losses. Does that sound familiar Eels supporters?

In contrast, as last year’s wooden spoon recipients, the Eels were predicted by many to again be anchored near the bottom of the ladder. A win in this clash will keep the Eels entrenched in the top 8.

Nathan Brown and his players are under pressure to live up to the pre-season hype. They can talk about it being outside noise, but the Eels can attest to the damage that a poor start to the season can do the team. Players start questioning themselves and their team mates. Confidence drops and you find ways to lose games.

The Knights aren’t quite at that low point yet, so this may well be the backs to the wall, rearguard match. They owe it to their fans to deliver a home victory and it’s unlikely that anything less than total commitment will be on display on their turf. Don’t expect to see the embarrassing defence that they dished up against the Titans.

For Parramatta, finding the balance of maintaining confidence yet not getting lost in the euphoria of their annihilation of the Tigers will be the challenge. They need to reset for a new team and focus on the systems that are providing success. Wins of that magnitude are rare, but it should also remind them that they have the capacity to put teams to the sword.

Ultimately, the Eels have to treat this Knights team with respect. A check of the history books reinforces that advice.

 

Having a Punt

Not to boast, but I’ve tipped you into a few winning bets already this season. Last week, I recommended splashing out on the Head to Head/Over Under Double market. If you took the tip it returned the sweet odds of $3.60.

Therefore, I’m going to push my luck in the same market with the Eels to win coupled with more than 40.5 total match points @$3.40

If you want a higher value score, then my roughie is a try/win double. Take Marata Niukore to score a try at any time coupled with an Eels win at $7.00.

The favourites for first try scorer are listed below:

Eels: Ferguson $8 Sivo $9

Knights: Lee $11 Kenny-Dowall $11

 

Feed Your Footy Brain

The Knights have become the Eels bogey team in recent seasons. The Eels have only beaten Newcastle twice in the last 11 years. The ten losses over that period have included some really ugly score lines. A 30 to 4 defeat in 2018 made for awful viewing for Parra supporters, but even that wasn’t as bad as the 42 to 12 loss in a crucial game in 2014 or the 54 to 6 blitz in 2013.

I’d take a win of any margin, but I reckon the Eels owe the Knights a drubbing. Can we ask for 52 to 6 this week?

 

Tracking: Oregon Kaufusi

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, last week’s clash with with Tigers provided you with a vision of the future. We’ve only been given snippets of big Oregon up till now, but that changed last Monday with extra minutes for bench forwards becoming the consequence of Danny Alvaro’s first minute head injury.

The 19 year old forward didn’t disappoint.

Oregon celebrates his first NRL try.

At 6’2″ and weighing in around 115kg, Oggy is the prototype big, mobile prop. His barnstorming try running off a terrific Mitch Moses pass is representative of the type of destruction he can inflict on a defence.

Kaufusi came from the clouds to make his NRL debut in 2018. The Hills Sports High graduate had commenced the season in Flegg and earned a call up to NSW Cup midway through the season. Such was his transition to senior football, he became the go to player during an NRL injury crisis and the Eels were given dispensation to debut him in Round 23 against the Storm.

The Cumberland Throw has long predicted a bright future for Oregon, after tracking his career from the Eels Under 16s through to junior Blues and Kangaroo representation. The talented prop is also a fine ambassador for the club with his focus on giving back to the community evident in his association with the Giant Steps school.

Look for another powerful performance from Oregon against the Knights.

Danger man: Mitchell Pearce

Now in the veteran class, Mitchell Pearce has never been able to shake the criticism attached to a losing Origin half. That’s been somewhat unfair given the calibre of his Queensland opponents. You don’t make 18 Origin appearances if you can’t play the game.

The 30 year old Pearce has now clocked up 260 appearances in thirteen seasons of NRL football. Though he’s had a disappointing start to this season, I’d expect his leadership and professionalism to kick in sooner than later.

I expect the Knights half to have his most involved game of the season and to try to provide Ponga with enough space to use his step and pace. The Eels will try to nullify his influence by dominating the middle third so that he has no go forward to work off.

 

Team Lists

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6.Connor Watson 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Danny Levi 10. James Gavet 11.Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Tim Glasby

Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer 15. Herman Ese’ese 16. Daniel Saifiti 17. Josh King 18. Mason Lino 19. Tautau Moga 20. Sione Mata’utia 21.Pasami Saulo

Eels : 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5.Blake Ferguson 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tepai Moeroa

interchange: 14. Peni Terepo 15. Tim Mannah 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Ray Stone 18. Manu Ma’u 19. Kane Evans 20. Josh Hoffman 21. George Jennings

 

Clint Gutherson vs Kalyn Ponga

Is it fair for such a weight of expectation to be placed on Kalyn Ponga?

Even without considering his talent, his salary probably demands it.

That said, the 2019 version of the Knights seems to be imbalanced. There’s almost a parallel to how the Eels performed for many years with Jarryd Hayne in the side. Throw Ponga the ball and hope he does something.

Gutho sets the tone for the Eels.

Did the Knights fail with Ponga at 5/8? Despite the attacking prowess that he injects from fullback, I’d argue that defensively they looked much better with him at 5/8. After only conceding around 14 points per game in the first four rounds, the last two rounds have been blow outs. They hit rock bottom in allowing the Titans to put on 38 points last week.

That’s not to say that Gutherson doesn’t also play a critical role for the Eels. As captain, the energetic fullback sets the tone for the Blue and Golds, from the training paddock to match day. His absence at the start of 2018 certainly didn’t help Parra’s cause.

Both Ponga and Gutherson can create something out of nothing, but it’s the how that differs greatly. Whilst the Newcastle fullback will let loose with a mercurial step and exceptional pace, the King rules his Kingdom by staying in every moment – playing what’s in front of him, whether that be by backing up the play or taking on a retreating and scattered defence at just the right time.

Whichever way the result goes, we can be certain that one of these two custodian will have played a significant part.

 

And The Winner Is?

Let me offer a quote from last week’s preview:

“I’m expecting Moses and Gutherson to push contract issues aside and have blinders.”

I could easily base my tip again on the two stars from the Eels spine, but this battle will be determined by the clash of the big men. Look for big collisions between Klemmer and Paulo as both men attempt to lead their respective packs in a battle for dominance. The performances of Ese’ese and Kaufusi off the bench will also be influential.

Boasting a skill set that extends beyond the bash and barge, Junior Paulo will lead the Eels to a commanding victory, with edge back rowers Niukore and Lane to feast off his passing.

It’s unlikely that the Eels will be able to replicate the energy and intensity of last round, but no team could play at that level every week. Their goal will be to return to their processes and win every contest in this clash.

 

Eels 34 Knights 14

 

Man of the Match – Junior Paulo

 

Eels forever!

 

Sixties

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Shelley
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Shelley

I am more confident with two crucial inclusions in Manu and Ferguson. Both are high intensity and take no prisoner players. They will lead the way and help those a little down. The only concern I have is the team starting from zero again. If they get into the game through the forwards they will win the right to throw the ball around and will find gaps.

Tim
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Tim

Alvaro has been ruled out. Will Oregon start and Manu go to the bench?

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Good pre game post sixties as per usual. While I’m not a betting person, and very much one who is careful in point predictions, especially when it goes or comes to playing against teams that we have been troubled with over the years. We have won but one match out of 4 against the knights and the worst one for me was in the better year of 2017 where we were doing ok. I will not be surprised if the knights score first, its how they finish and the eels handle it that counts. I would say eels by maybe… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Great prospectus for hopeful not committed league fan looking for a team to support Sixties. I loved the Feed the Footy Brain excerpt of “I’d take a win at any margin but I reckon the Eels owe the Knights a drubbing”! It sounds so prophetic I reckon I’ll get on Parra at 13+. Now that we know Alvaro is out and as a consequence our man Manu Mau is in, here lies the straw that could just break the camels/knights back. Imagine sitting on the bench with Mad Manu growling and snarling for the call to arms if you were… Read more »

Trouser Eel
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Trouser Eel

A great read Sixties but I’m really just here for the betting tips.

Gazzamatta
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Gazzamatta

I generally become concerned when I see either Perenara or Atkins as the referee.
Both appear intent on convincing everyone they have no current affiliation with our beloved Eels based on past associations.
Hang in boys. It could be a rough afternoon.

Jonno
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Jonno

Hoping your right Sixties, either way another cracker I’m guessing.

BDon
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BDon

Our St George game late last year was just about the only game where everything lined up for us, low errors, low penalties, hold the ball, whereas the Dragons did the opposite and that’s the only way an out of form team will beat us…if the basics break down. It’s all so simple from the stands!