The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 8 vs Dragons

Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels 32

St George Illawarra Dragons 18

The Good:
For the second time in Season 2019, the Eels showed great resolve in responding to an early deficit, coming home with a wet sail. I’m not exactly sure what happened to the Dragons at half time, but the Eels took full advantage of their rudderless attack and questionable defensive intensity in the second 40 to run off a 32-4 advantage.

The Eels now are 2 from 2 in their brand new home (scoring 83 points in those 160 minutes, no less), and I for one would like to see said undefeated record extend for at least the next decade.

The Bad:
Being down certainly down 14-0 isn’t ideal, and although it was an incredible try, the Dragons second four pointer was as much Eels disappointment as it was Dragons triumph.

Finally, despite him now donning the Red V, I hope Corey Norman’s face is ok after Maika gave him what Forty20 has referred to as ‘a Fijian kiss’.

The X-Factor:
I know I have discussed how they aren’t always particularly telling statistics, but the Eels completed 69% (11/16) of their sets in the first half, and 86% (19/22) in the second. It’s the 6 more sets (and obviously the 8 more completions) which is the real takeaway there; we were starved of possession in the first half as we trailed 14-0, before finishing the game with a 32-4 late flurry.

Interestingly, the Eels spent almost 14 minutes of the second half in the Dragons 20 (compared to the 3:20 the Dragons spent in ours), and the Eels ran for 1305 to their 836 metres in the same stanza. Oh and the second half penalty count for 1 to the Dragons, and 6 to the good guys; yikes.

We strangely had more missed tackles in the 2nd half (16) than we did in the first (10, including 5 alone for the Dragons second try). As a result of all of this, I am convinced I actually don’t understand Rugby League at all.

The MVP:


Maika Sivo is playing out of his skin, and Fergo’s second half felt like he came back to life, but it’s very hard to go past the man who was most under pressure to perform – one Clinton Gutherson.

I don’t know what more to say about his little dance after he took a leisurely 80 metre stroll through the teeth of the Dragons defence. Much like a typical Gutho game, it was kinda weird, but we all loved it.

Grades would have been out sooner, but I’ve been watching this clip for about 22 minutes now.

It’s absolutely mesmerising.


1- Clint Gutherson (c)

Fullback, Parramatta Eels

Just the 250 running metres from 18 carries for El Capitan, and no doubt a significant middle finger for all those who suggested the club should cut him loose during the week. The King added a try, a linebreak, a linebreak assist, a try assist, an offload and 2 tackle breaks to his afternoon tally.

Sure, I loved the weird post try celebration, but I maybe like this quote even more. When asked whether he was considering returning to Manly, Gutho replied: “I actually enjoy the 40-minute drive to Parramatta. I listen to Smooth FM on the way out here.” 

How glorious.

2- Maika Sivo

Left Wing, Parramatta Eels

This afternoon Maika Sivo tore out the intestines of the Dragons right side defence and wore them as a summer scarf. With a whopping 2 try, 2 linebreak, 5 tackle break, 14 run, 195 metre performance, Maika Sivo continues to grow on me like my unwanted and unexpected shoulder hair now I’m 35 years old.

To be honest, I simply did not think he’d be this good; and I’m very excited to be so wrong.

3- Michael Jennings

Left Centre, Parramatta Eels

Although it wasn’t one for the scrapbook (as he missed a team high 5 tackles and only made 4 runs in today’s game), it just feels like Jennings continue to be Mr Reliable for the Eels; like an old grey haired man giving out advice to passers by.

I mean, if nothing else, it certainly was nice of him to run alongside Maika Sivo for his second try.

4- Brad Takairangi

Right Centre, Parramatta Eels

Hey, Brad.

5- Blake Ferguson

Right Wing, Parramatta Eels

As touched on above, Fergo looked borderline invisible in the first half, which is actually understandable for a man with sore ribs and a nose that sports its own elbow.

In the first 40, Blake could be seen hitting the ball up at 80%, shying away from contact in defence and wasn’t really the attacking presence we so desperately relied upon in the early parts of the season. However thankfully his first half 8 runs and 72 metres improved into a 10 run, 113 metre second stanza adding 2 linebreaks, 4 tackle breaks and even a 19 metre kick for good measure. Fergo’s second half revival included an outstanding collection of leaps for two short kick off defusals, a try and a pretty crazy post try celebration.

When Blake Ferguson goes full Fergo, the Eels legitimately become a pretty scary proposition; and that’s a good feeling.

6- Jaeman Salmon

Five Eighth, Parramatta Eels

Jaeman Salmon had easily his best game in the 6 jersey this afternoon, and he seems to grow more comfortable in the role with every passing week; not at all surprising for a 19 year old Mr Fix It. The early parts of the game saw Dragons chasers heat seek Mitchell Moses on almost every 5th tackle, so it was great to see Reed and Salmon put their hands up to take the pressure off. Forcing two line drops outs, and finding the grass in his two other kick attempts, he absolutely had the ball on a string.

7- Mitchell Moses

Halfback, Parramatta Eels

Mitchell’s fortunes seem to coincide with the Eels success this afternoon, with a few poor (under pressure) kicks early giving way to flowing, confident, up tempo passing and kicks to the corner in the latter stages of the game. Still growing in his ability to rally his team back into the contest through clever kicks and game management (a tall ask for any NRL halfback), Mitch is nonetheless certainly mastering the art of orchestrating a team who is running downhill with momentum; a task he once again nailed today.

8- Daniel Alvaro

Prop, Parramatta Eels

It was weird not seeing Big Polar out on the park for the last 159 minutes of Eels game time, so I was just happy he survived his first hit up. Easing back into it this afternoon with 9 runs for 69 metres, you’d think Danny’s form guide would suggest a big one from him next week for Magic Round.

9- Reed Mahoney

Hooker, Parramatta Eels

Maybe more so than anyone else, Reed was not playing well in the opening 20 minutes; falling off tackles and making uncharacteristic errors (2). But like every one else in Blue & Gold, Reed snapped right the hell out of it, going errorless in the second half, finishing with a team high 41 tackles and a linebreak. He also scored an incredibly important four pointer at the end of the first half which started the swing back towards our direction.

Not unlike Sivo, Dylan, Oregon, Jaeman and Marata, Reed Mahoney is a good one.

10- Junior Paulo

Prop, Parramatta Eels

I’m reliably informed Junior wasn’t 100% last week; and it definitely showed in a subpar performance from the giant human. It was back to regular programming this week as Junior broke through the 100 metre barrier (105) from his 13 carries, whilst almost single handedly breaking the hearts and minds of a Dragons forward pack with 25 ferocious tackles.

This week I’ll be spelling ‘redemption’ P-A-U-L-O, and as a teacher, I suspect that will cause some issues.

11- Shaun Lane

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

There’s not much left to say about Shaun Lane I haven’t said before; I’m just into him. Not unlike most instances of true love, his 12 runs for 111 metres just doesn’t do his contributions or appeal any justice.

Being so tall, Shaun Lane could reach the stars and he’ll give them all to you.

12- Marata Niukore

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

Every little thing he does is magic, everything he does just turns me on destroys his opposition’s will to live. Simba went had a crazy 36 tackles, also chipping in for 10 runs and 87 metres. I remember remarking to those around me how weird it was just little ball how right side attack got in the first 50 minutes; probably explains those low attacking numbers to some extent.

13- Tepai Moeroa

Lock, Parramatta Eels

After a very similar error in Round 1 against the Panthers, it seems Big Tep just cannot put the ball down cleanly.

14- Peni Terepo

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

After a flat out terrible performance last week, Peni Terepo redeemed himself somewhat with a 9 run, 72 metre performance; also making 17 important tackles. With that said, his refusal to finish chasing Matt Dufty for the Dragons’ second upset me a little, but at least he was there in the first place.

16- Oregon Kaufusi

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

He’s heating up.*    

*- please read in the NBA Jam announcer voice

I continue to grow in adoration for The Gun, and his 8 runs for a ludicrous 112 metres gives plenty of weight to my affections. Big Country also had a linebreak, 2 tackle breaks and made 11 tackles on the Dragons without miss. If there’s any chance in the world Oregon doesn’t know just how good he’s going to be, I think we should trick him into signing a 10 year deal.

Gosh I hope he’s not reading this; if he is I just gave the game away.

Hey, Oregon.

17- Manu Ma’u

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Manu’s play is almost a microcosm of our Season 2019, he looks fit and fresh, in total contrast to an arguably poor 2018. There’s just something about him since his return last week, he’s the aggressive, looks like he wants to rip your head off edge we’ve all grown to know and love. Constantly putting his hand up to launch himself into the Dragons’ middle, Manu’s 12 runs for 104 metres and tackle break game don’t do his impact justice.

Ps – If you haven’t read this yarn on Manu from the SMH, you should remedy that immediately.

Try not to stare into Manu’s eyes in the attached photo for too long, there’s rumours you’ll turn to stone.

19- Kane Evans

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

In his return from the wilderness of Wentworthville, Kane Evans came back to first grade only to sit on the bench for 74 minutes. He was then, for what you’d think will be the only time in his career, subbed on for a hooker in Reed Mahoney. To continue the above narrative, Kane even had a dummy half run for 12 metres (total 2 runs for 21 metres), but I must say his service from the ruck was terrible. Turns out 8 foot giant Fijians aren’t meant for the number 9. Who knew?

The Eels are now 5 wins and 3 losses as we head into Magic Round next week, taking on the roboticly efficient Melbourne Storm.

I’m really starting to enjoy this season.

See you next week, sports fans.

Go you Eels,


Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels. Stats courtesy of the legends over at Champion Data.

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Love the grades Mitch. I cant help but think our free flowing footy was also about the fitness of our boys. We out matched them in the second half in confidence and also backing up. If Sivo does not have Jenko with him on that long run then he may not have scored. Something minor but Jenko for me helped and he also threw a good ball for Sivo’s second try. Good game.
We need to keep our middle tough for next week or we are in strife.
Just sign BA; Guth and Moses now…..pls.

Gem KM

Salmons short kicking was excellent today. I love winning

Greg Okladnikov

great review. I agree we did go left a lot more in attack but maybe Dragons defence was not as strong….seemed that way in any case the strategy was right. Shaun Lane has been a good buy for us. And Manu Mau…..adds that “something”…and it was a great story in todays Herald, especially about Fifita saying he was scared of him…that was funny

Colin Hussey

Mitch, I am v pleased with Bev’s return to form, too many have written him off too soon. Said elsewhere that while Evans provided a big body on the bench, I would have preferred to have seen Stone there, but he got a lot of extra game time with Wenty that can only keep him going and match conditioned, read somewhere that he had a vg game as well.

Colin Hussey

I would have liked to have seen him continue in the 6 shirt for Wenty, as it opens up options for him. Unless there are more injuries I don’t see many/any changes to the 1-17 atm.
If Tim’s ok next week then he should replace Evans with that the only probable change.

John Eel

It is really going to be a tough decision when Nathan Brown returns. There are no obvious choices in this situation someone will make way for Brown. Is it a case of what is best for the player and the club. If so it may be better to keep Kaufusi. After all Peni must be on thin ice after his indiscretions of the past. Oregon on the other hand is part of the future of the club. He needs to be nurtured and encouraged to stay long term. I am thinking that come decision time it is going to call… Read more »

Colin Hussey

John, there’s going to be some hard decisions going forward especially with the number of off contract players we have, in the list there is Alvaro, Mannah, Ma’u, Terepo, Tepi, Marata Ray Stone, and Utokamau, From my perspective, Mannah deserves another year, as I mention above, I doubt if Peni and Manu will both get extensions, and Tepi is likely needing a big year as well. he’s shown something of improvement but his indiscretions and penalties are not helping his cause. While the one last weekend that was placed on report was not a good look, he was committed to… Read more »

Colin Hussey

No disagreement with you on Bev, only way he could get into the current team would be if Salmon went down and he could get the 6 shirt.

I also agree with you on Peni, while he adds a lot, so far in what I have seen this year he is not quite as impacting as he once was, and certainly Oregon would be my preference there, it then becomes a toss up between Peni and Manu,

John Eel

I read somewhere that Manu has been offered a 2 year deal

Colin Hussey

Interesting!.. As mentioned I have a gut feeling that either Manu or Peni will be signed, rather than the two of them.

Other area I wonder about is with Tim and Polar, both have done well this year more especially Tim, but I think Alvaro is the better starting with Jnr.


I agree Oregon is getting better with every game in the top grade, Peni seams a little pedestrian in the last two weeks and Oregon is definitely ahead of him based on those two games.
I hope our forwards can take it to the Storm this week in a controlled aggressive way, because they just have not looked that good this year as their forwards aren’t getting the roll on they are used to.

Colin Hussey

Read an article this morning that had Bellamy really doing a skitch with his players and the stats on some of the forwards, Kafusi and Bromwich in particular copped a serve, they are on notice of being dropped, not a good omen for the eels as a result.

Colin Hussey

Enjoyed the game today, moreso the 2nd half, as it showed the eels can turn up even looking ripe for the picking. Given the strength of the Saints and how they have knocked over other tall poppies I was very concerned up until Reed ducked through for a try. That article on Manu is awesome will cut it out from the paper and go into my eels folder. Great show by the forwards overall, Evans contribution would not have happened I would suggest if Reed did not have a HIA Good to see our position on the ladder, and have… Read more »


I can’t understate how important Reed’s try at the back of the first half was. Going into the sheds only 8 down made the prospect of a comeback seem all the more possible. I’ve also been impressed at how crisp Mahoney’s long ball service to Moses is live – something that doesn’t necessarily come across on the TV all that well. Really like this kid. Here’s hoping we can hold on to him long term. Agreed with your comments on this being Salmon’s best game so far. With a bit more confidence I can see him flourishing. A massive ask… Read more »

Parramatta Tragic

Always enjoy the ratings and reviews mitch. Your the Bill Collins of Parramatta. When you say half the dummy halves, do you mean a quarter of them?

The rev aka Snedden

Good read Mitch The ratings were spot on. Big tepi omg his hands are poor it was 6 points gone begging. All he had to do was stop catch the ball n plant it down instead he dropped it over the line.😱 As for our defence it needs to stop leaking 16 to 18 points per game. Just not good enough. Needs more work to Fix it up. I like salmon as a running 5\8 but he really needs to start taking more pressure of Moses when it comes to the 5th tackle option. Like put cross field kicks up… Read more »

!0 Year Member

Thanks for the post Mitch. I would rate Cash a bit higher, that first kick of his from dummy half was true ‘game management’ which we all have wanted, it put a stamp on the game and stopped us spinning like a top. Whilst admiring the feats of the opposition full back, aka The Gazelle, I loved the way he was devoured by the Lion, aka Maika. Was beautiful to see Fergo back in full flight. Lets not kid ourselves, we have a long way to go, but boy o boy, we are on the correct trajectory. Team is doing… Read more »


Great insight there Mitch. I tried to do the 10 second ‘why did we win’ after the game and got confused, probably because the game had a bit of everything, including shimmies and backflips. So I just ran with the euphoria. The possession/penalty stats seem to be screaming out something.


I always wait for a few hours BDon. The emotion needs some time to settle immediately afterwards before I begin the analysis. Mitch and Forty can do the early breakdowns and assessments. I just enjoy matches like that and tweet joyous expletives.


Nice win but I’m still worried about our ability to get in the grind to win a game. A couple of opportunistic long range tries put us in front and changed the game. The first 40 minutes was terrible as we turned over too much ball and applied no pressure on the Dragons. Good to get the win but much improvement still required.


The long range tries (Dragons and Eels) were reminiscent of Jack Gibson’s philosophy. Hit the defence after a kick. The defence is less settled, especially if the fullback has also chased. Is that opportunistic? It is if you take the definition of making use of an opportunity, but it wasn’t a fluke. I’m happy to have improvement needed at this time of year. I’d be worried about the opposite. Who wants to think, “well, they can’t get any better than that” at this time of year? Our Eels just came back from a tough first 40 and a 14 point… Read more »

John Eel

Sixties the quote from JG is a good one. He also applied the same philosophy on possession turnovers. Unfortunately the second try scored by the Dragons was just that “hit the defence after a kick”. Our chase after that kick was ordinary and the defensive line was staggered all over the place . I am in Perth and have only seen the highlights but I am ecstatic with the outcome and our ability to regroup and come back and win. BA will have plenty to work on through the week addressing the slow starts. How good is it though as… Read more »

John Eel

Sorry Sixties I posted this before I read the posts below


Good wrap up Mitch. The Eels absorbed a lot of pressure in the 1st half which kept them in the game until Reed’s try turned the tide. Thought Reed, Gutho and Lane were really good but both Sivo + Salmon played their best game for the B&G. Defensively Alvaro stiffens the centre, he doesn’t miss – we missed that last week. Made a big difference having Salmon kicking, he had room as the Saints chased Moses all afternoon. I do like the footwork at the line from Junior and Manu – it keeps the defense engaged and makes room for… Read more »


If we start like that against the Storm next week it’ll be all over by half time. Put simply, we were terrible. I thought I was seeing the Knights game again, he says with a shiver. We need to bring much more intensity to our D otherwise we’ll forever be the bride’s maid.


I thought our D was much better against a better opponent this week Glenn, with the exception of that length of the field Dragons try. Thought the chase was poor on that, which isolated defenders. The hit in every tackle in that try was almost non existent.
I have to credit the opposition when they stretch a defence. Last week, we gifted too much to the Knights. This week, the Dragons tested us in that first half and deserved the lead. But NRL is 80 minutes and we delivered big time in the second half.

Colin Hussey

That saints try really showed up some poor defence areas, but what it did show as well how having a player with great foot movement, sidestep and the like is very dangerous, saints have more than one of them in the squad and each of those contributed.

Best part though was it was one off as our defenders were able to contain that, even the mini breaks ended up being covered.


We keep turning up Colin, that’s the pleasing part of the defensive work.


Sixties,I reckon if BA has a 1%ers session,he ll show that chase. 3 blokes went like the clappers and 10 didn’t.


I’m sure it’s featuring

West Coast Eel

Huge win! Wifey and my daughter were out this arvo, so I could swear and yell at the tv as much as I wanted. And I did a lot of that in the first half. I know he probably wasn’t the MVP, but Oregon was terrific today. When he came on I thought things started turning our way. I was always confident we’d beat the dragons and I’m confident we’ll win most of our games at Bankwest. I gotta try to get back over there again before the season is over. Bring on the storm!


Oregon is a ripper West Coast. Terrific bloke on top of it too. Spoke to him about a few things last week, and he made reference to the mentoring he gets from the senior forwards.
We’ve got some good young props coming through too. Stefano is about to return from injury and young Hollis and Hughes are into the Flegg squad after the SG Ball has finished. You keep your eyes on their progress over the next couple of years.

Colin Hussey

Looking forward to seeing Stefano once back from injury, he and Kafusi, along with Jnr provide our pack with strength going forward, Tim also a key for a bit more time with the club I believe.

Polar also had a good game and tightened the defence up, and good runs.

Longfin Eel

Agreed on the Mahoney try changing the momentum of the game. I also thought Norman was playing very well for St George and when he went off Saints were a bit directionless. Nevertheless, Parra took advantage of this. I loved how Gutho revved the players up after we scored. He’s growing as a player and captain and will be invaluable to the club over the coming years. At 14 nil down I honestly thought it was game over for us, but the boys showed they can push through adversity and change the momentum our way. We would have collapsed at… Read more »


I have to say, when Mitch shanked that first kick I was thinking negative thoughts about how the day was going to pan out with flashbacks of last years mid field bombs! When Dufty finished and started their try off the kick I was looking for a quiet corner to assume “the position” in with further flashbacks to 2018 and horrible capitulations. Isn’t it terrible how conditioned we have become to assuming that once we fall behind we can’t get back in front. I guess we all need a few years of consistency to calm our thoughts so we can… Read more »


Great reply JonBoy! Thanks for sharing that about Fergo. I wasn’t aware, but that was amazing to witness him thriving on that sort of thing at training.
Like you, I’m still carrying some scars from last year, and the fetal position was too familiar in 2018. But when Reed nullified their try of the year with a dive from dummy half, I wondered how much wing came out of their sails. Queensland probably won’t select him, but I wonder if he’d get named on an extended bench to provide him with experience in the future.


Nice game from the team. Great come back and spot on ratings. Maybe Moses needs to be protected by our guys when he is doing the last tackle kicks. If you have observed the Roosters, there are always 2 players in front of either Cronk or Keary when they do the kick. It takes away a bit of pressure when they do the kicks. Hope, the Eels coaching staff will try and tell our players to do the same. Go Parra!


I thought we started a bit slow yesterday but after watching the replay I thought the dragons were really good and other than some poor kick chases we held them quite well. I thought the team absorbed that and took their chances when the dragons relaxed to change the momentum. Showed a calmer approach to coming from behind this week compared to last week. Good to see some lessons being applied. Everyone one I’ve spoken to talks about Reedy’s try being a momentum changer but what about the charge from Oregon to get within reach of the line? Super run


When Guth got turned inside out for their second try I was baying for his blood. By the time the fulltime siren went off I was fine with them giving him the keys to the leagues club. Another sensational roller coaster ride for us grateful supporters. I’ve fallen in love with this new ground already.
Loved the The Police reference mate. I must admit that when we were down 14 zip I was saying to myself “what is my reaction? what should it be? confronted by this latest atrocity?”
Great article as usual – cheers legend!

Seth hardie

Kram there were a few players that missed tackles before Gutho was turned inside out.Our captain turned that game around early in the 2nd half with sheer desire and ability to change the momentum. That’s what players committed to their teammates do. Give this bloke anything!


I’ve said it before Seth – Gutho sets the tone, from the training paddock to match days.


Hey Kramerica, isn’t it great to have a team that can provide big moments and exciting games. They use the term – play some Parra footy. When this team gets expansive, it’s great to watch.


You’re not wrong sixties. “champagne footy” is what we all love to watch. We seem to have a team that just loves playing footy, playing what’s in front of them. A team that can put on a show. Yet the foundation that is required to put on the show is being well instilled by the coach.
Can’t stop smiling :))


You can see how much the players enjoy playing this brand of footy too mate. They’ve worked incredibly hard and very intelligently in turning last year’s form around.

One Putt Pete

Oh I just love a win and the team are showing off their ability and desire to play for each other and the Blue and Gold. Our new stadium and supporter add to the team win. Gutherson demonstrates his leadership skills, on a weekly basis now, with the team responding accordingly. Tonight, against the Storm, will be a serious test of our ability to take on the big teams in our competition. Go the Blue and Gold.


I’m tipping a win, but how we play, how we respond to any adversity, will also be a measure of where we are at.

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