The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 21 vs Knights (Whisky Gradings Edition)

Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels 20

Newcastle Knights 14


Mitch is unfortunately unavailable tonight, so your boy Forty20 is back in the Post Game Grades saddle for this week. Enjoy!

The Good:

Magnum might still be a ways off but the Parramatta Eels are starting to pull off a convincing Blue Steel as their defence formed the cornerstone of our victory for the second consecutive week.

Underpinning the defensive steel were the clinical displays of patience from Mitchell MosesDylan Brown and Reed Mahoney – none of whom panicked in the face of a Newcastle comeback.

Beyond the on-field efforts and heroics this week I must also give a shout out to the heart-warming story about how the Eels secretly flew Maika Sivo’s father out this week so that he could see his son play in the NRL for the first time ever. Moments like this are truly special.

The Bad:
A rare off night with the kicking tee for Mitchell Moses made this game a hell of a lot closer than it could have been. The breakout sharpshooter left 6pts on the field before finally icing the game with a throw-over penalty conversion in the 80th minute.

Of greater concern however a second anemic performance on the trot by Parramatta’s bench. This isn’t a bench wide call out, David Gower rebounded from a quiet offering last week while Marata Niukore continues to shine in his new role as an impact forward.

Tepai Moeroa (2 runs, 13m, 5 tackles, 1 error) and Peni Terepo (2 runs, 14m, 14 tackles) were complete non-factors at best this week and the Eels will need more from rotational forwards if they are to make a dent in the post-season.

The X-Factor:
Tonight marked one of the most composed team efforts against a genuine bogey team that I can recall in recent years. Newcastle have tormented the Eels for far too long, even in the midst of the Eels’ golden run in 2017, and the resilience that Parramatta showed tonight to snuff out Newcastle’s second half comeback marks an important step forward for our franchise.
The MVP:

The 6,7 or 9 could have taken home this gong…Nathan Brown and Junior Paulo were also worthy candidates but I am going with Shaun ‘Night Train’ Lane as the MVP this week.

Lane’s 131m came off a neat 15 carries while he was polished defensively with 20 tackles blemished by only a single missed and ineffective tackle a piece.

The numbers don’t tell the full story about the strength of his post-contact efforts or the cleverness of his running angles off the hip of Dylan Brown. Hell, he even completed a set with a cracking kick that found touch 1m out!

Lane has been an outstanding addition to the Blue & Gold … just keep the man away from an avocado.


1- Clinton Gutherson (c)

Fullback, Parramatta Eels

Clint Gutherson scored the opener, notched his second off a brilliant piece of vision from Mitchell Moses and very nearly had a hat-trick before Kalyn Ponga DEFINITELY didn’t shoulder charge him into touch. Gutho has been one of the premier try-assisting fullbacks this year so it is nice to see him get his when it comes to actually scoring as well.

For the third week in a row he ended up filling in at hooker (something we really need to talk about) as Reed Mahoney was spelled but even so he cranked out 153m from 13 runs.

2- Maika Sivo

Left Wing, Parramatta Eels

It was a watershed night for Parramatta’s rookie sensation and Maika Sivo didn’t let the occasion get to him as he touched down for his NRL leading 16th try. He was typically industrious in his ruck work with 143m from 15 runs but most encouraging was the quality of his defensive work. Barring a miscued aerial contest leading to Newcastle’s second try, Sivo was on point in defence.

3- Michael Jennings

Left Centre, Parramatta Eels

Perhaps the best reflection of Michael Jennings’ value to the team this year comes from the improved defence of Maika Sivo in the last two games. Otherwise it was a quiet night at the office for grizzled veteran of Parra’s back line.

4- Waqa Blake

Right Centre, Parramatta Eels

Waqa Blake teased fans with another performance that teetered on greatness as the mid-season recruit rapidly get his feet underneath him at his new club. Waqa’s 4 tackle breaks trailed only Mitchell Moses and Manu Ma’u – both of whom has 5 a piece – and he was barely contained by desperate Newcastle defenders on more than one occasion.

5- Brad Takairangi

Right Wing, Parramatta Eels

The Cook Island Control Tower is an enigma wrapped in a riddle woven in a double entendre, all of which is deciphered from ancient hieroglyphics. How can one man open the game by spilling a gentle dribbler only to close it out like prime Billy Slater by sliding in at full speed to clean up the trickiest kick of the night?

Beyond a gorgeous leap and try-assist to put the King over, I thought Takairangi ran a lot better than his stats suggested. 11 runs for 83m doesn’t look like much on paper but he toughed it out for each and every one of those carries.

I can’t wait until he isn’t playing wing for us (because that means some bloke called Blake Ferguson is ready to rock and roll) but I have him penciled in for a place on our bench at the finals loom.

6- Dylan Brown

Five Eighth, Parramatta Eels

His long lay-off means he is all but out of rookie of the year contention but Dylan Brown (not to mention the competition he faces from a fellow Eel on his outside) is getting better at a rapid pace. Even when he messes up he is getting it right as we saw with a shanked bomb that netted a line drop out!

His poise and decision making to set Maika Sivo up was just

The chemistry he enjoys with Shaun Lane is something that the Eels haven’t had from an edge combination in a long, long time.

7- Mitchell Moses

Halfback, Parramatta Eels

The goal-kicking knocks from down from a clean ‘A’ but the rise and rise of Mitchell Moses continues as the senior play-maker at the Eels takes full control of his team. It isn’t a coincidence that the Eels are playing their best football just as Moses begins to blend savvy game management with breath-taking bouts of vision and we saw both of those facets on show tonight.

15- Daniel Alvaro

Prop, Parramatta Eels

He is still a long ways off the form that saw him win the Ken Thornett Medal last season but Daniel Alvaro is starting to warm up just a smidgen. As with Brad Takairangi‘s numbers, I thought he ran a bit better than the statistics suggested because 69m from 10 carries is Aiden Tolman-esque effectiveness on a per-run basis.

9- Reed Mahoney

Hooker, Parramatta Eels

I am going to keep banging on about it…I have no qualms with the new rotation policy for Reed Mahoney but I hate the way we are going about it. Clinton Gutherson has shown he can be a fine emergency hooker but we are losing so much when he is locked in at dummy half either side of half-time.

As for Cash Mahoney himself, well he was on fire – straight Johnny Cash sort of fire. Perfectly weighted clearing kicks and a beautifully worked try with Junior Paulo headlined the night but the NRL’s leading tackler also chalked up 43 more notches on that particular belt with nary a missed or ineffective tackle to be seen.

10- Junior Paulo

Prop, Parramatta Eels

It was the sort of night where Junior Paulo just went out there and got his work done but I will be damned if it wasn’t quality work. Once again he managed some bonkers running efficiency as he averaged nearly 11m a run on 12 carries while he also put Reed Mahoney over for a crucial try. He isn’t getting lax on the other side of the ball either with 23 tackles and just the one missed to his name.

11- Shaun Lane

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

The man that fears nothing. Save for avocados.

12- Manu Ma’u

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

It was the most Manu Ma’u of performances that ever was. 79min of pure, unadulterated ferocity in attack and defence and 1min of pure terror…for the Knights. Who knows whatever fleeting madness that possessed Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer to mess with the Tongan Terminator but it resulted in a fiery climax to the match. Klemmer’s ill-advised decision to give Manu ‘the business’ may have intimated most other players but Parramatta’s enforcer was having none of it.

While he was lucky he failed to find range as he lashed out, replays quickly justified his frustration and the ensuring penalty allowed Mitchell Moses to close out the game.

13- Nathan Brown

Lock, Parramatta Eels

Probably the most under-rated player, let alone forward, in the NRL. Not a week goes by that don’t I count our blessings that he lines up in the blue & gold. In that vein, just your average 18 run, 151m, 43 tackle outing for Nathan Brown that was topped off by yet another brilliant rallying of the defence. Yep, nothing to see here.


14- Marata Niukore

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Simba produced another sterling effort from the bench and powered through plenty of work in attack and defence. 14 runs for 126m and 25 tackles (1 missed) headlined Parramatta’s interchange productivity and he now owns a genuinely important role for the Eels. Bench forwards matter damn it.

16- David Gower

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

It was a rare off-game for David Gower last week and he wasted little time righting that wrong with a 10 run, 93m effort alongside a flawless 18 tackle night. Media reports suggested that Gower might be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Christian Welch’s unfortunate ACL injury and you won’t hear any arguments from me about the warhorse going around for one more year.

17- Tepai Moeroa

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

I don’t begrudge him at all for accepting a great offer from the ARU and the NSW Waratahs but given he is on the outer and producing this I fail to see why Brad Arthur and the Eels aren’t looking for other options on the bench. Oregon Kaufusi and Stefano Utoikamanu could both do more with the limited minutes given to Tepai at this point while Jaeman Salmon could also use the spot to deputise Reed Mahoney.

19- Peni Terepo

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Peni Terepo earns a grade above that of Tepai’s on the back of actual defensive production and the lack of an error but it was still a dismal performance off the bench for Baz. I understand the Eels will value experience on the bench as they push for the finals but by the same token you also need production from your bench forwards. Neither Tepai or Terepo provided that tonight. In the big picture the returns of Kane Evans and Blake Ferguson help this problem for the most part (Alvaro and Takairangi drop to the bench) but we have a window when we can develop young players AND get more value to the team.

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

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And AGAIN I’ll say dump Moeroa from the team omg. I could feel his error coming from a mile away. Kaufusi, keep Terepo, Salmon. Someone! Anyone!

John Eel

I did not see the entire Wenty Game but I thought Faingaa had a reasonable game today in a very ordinary team.


Hit the nail on the head re Teps grade. The guy contributes nothing and is probably the only eels player on the field looking like he doesn’t care. Cull him before his poor attitude affects anyone else.

I think terepo can offer more than Alvaro – maybe just an off game for him. When fergo + Evans are healthy id expect the bench to be niukore, taka, terepo and gowie.

Phil Mann

Good strong tough win. If Moses is going to have an off day with the boot, then yesterday was the day to have it when we score 4 tries to 2.
Scratching my head a little at the use of the bench, Tep 9 mins???? Why have that style of workhorse player on the bench, not as if he is a renown impact player. Peni a bit better with 22 but still under utilised in my view. Hope we don’t burn out the others come semi finals. Did I just say semi finals??? Yay!!!

Trouser Eel

Firm but fair review there Forty20. One thing I can say as a positive for Tep is that at the end of the game he always acknowledges the full crowd (ie he walks the field waving to all the bays)
It was bloody cold last night, I was surprised there wasn’t more dropped balls. Mine have only just come back out.



The rev aka Snedden


The rev aka Snedden

The ratings are spot on. Moses had a off night with the boot. Hopefully it’s back on for next weekend’s match. Moeroa n Alvaro need to be dropped. I see Alvaros stats are poor from a starting prop. Not good enough. Bring in kaufusi n stefanu. I don’t get this Mahoney coming off before n after halftime. Why Gutherson is at DH who’s playing fullback ? I say bring in salmon to interchange with him. Gutherson could have had 4 tries if only he got around ponga he would have been under the post for number 4 but happy with… Read more »


I am one out with you guys re Guth, I think he is the best dummy half runner in the club and the whole thing gets done seamlessly. Salmon has not shown he has any acumen for dummy half and frankly anywhere else at this stage. You might also find that Tepai received those token minutes because BA had him there if a genuine injury arises.i.e. if an edge forward was put out and he could fill that role for a long period. He was just the same disappointing and I suspect he will move back and get playing time… Read more »


He is a bloody expensive dummy half runner POP! Not to mention he struggles with his passing game, particularly to the right side! As a dummy half, he is a fabulous fullback!


Is it just me or has anyone else noticed when they take Reed off the opposition seem to be able to run more, shows how valuable Reeds defence is to the team.


We unquestionably lose in both line speed and attack when Reed is off. That said, we need a viable alternative. I think they’ll look for a viable back up for next year or continue to work on Stone.


I hope you’re right about continue to look for a genuine #14 who can play 9, 7, 6 and 13 at a pinch. Someone who brings enthusiasm onto the paddock.
That’s why I would pay half to 2/3 of Josh Reynolds remaining contract at Wests Tigers to come over to us for the next 2 years.


Line speed in defence is not Guth’s role when Reed is off , arguably our attack is better….its the forward that has been brought on to replace Reed in the numbers, not necessarily as the 9 that needs to have the responsibility of taking his defence role, line speed and middle. I agree with you 60’s Stone is the future there unless we recruit someone like Reynolds to play a genuine 9 from 14 and be that utility player we crave. But maybe we have to get through this year first before worrying about fixing things past this season. To… Read more »

Longfin Eel

It’s just crazy taking out your fullback when attacking so that you can give your hooker a rest. Surely there is someone else who can play dummy half during those times? The opposition much be salivating knowing that we are willingly taking one of our most lethal attacking weapons out of the game.


Finny, Gutho’s lethal attacking comes from backing up and he can do this just as well running from the ruck. He has made amazing metres running from Dummy half. Much more dangerous than Reed.
Sorry I have said too much on this, just think it has not been understood properly what BA is doing here!


Good grinding win that consoldates the Eels position in the eight, happy days. Agree with the grades, though I thought NBrown was MVP, topping the tackle count and metres and constantly testing the Newcastle defense behind the ruck. Nice choice of gifs Forty. It was another composed win built on solid defense, just the style required heading into the finals. Agree with others the bench rotation and Gutho covering Reed at dummy half plus the selection of Tep & Alvaro ahead of the development of rookies Kaufusi/Salmon/Stefano makes no sense – but gees it good to know the nucleus is… Read more »

Parramatta Tragic

A fitting retro round because Nathan Brown is Ray Higgs incarnate. What a performance. When the game was going the other way, Brown ran and defended manfully. I have not had a favourite player since Bob O’Reilly and Mick Cronin but I do now. What a player, what a man, I give him a rating of PhD

John Eel

PT he did the same at the beginning of the game as well. I thought he was on fire at the start and was doing it at the end.

When we were down 14-8 it was the great defensive work led by Browny that got us back into the game and to a win

Parramatta Tragic

Absolutely JE. When we were down 14-8 he rose to the occasion and ran even harder and belted them in defence. He was and is an inspiration

Colin Hussey

I did not see the game but wondered why Terepo was picked, then read that Evans was crook or something. So having Evans back next week hopefully will see an improved bench, for me, I would say to Tepai, thanks for your time with the eels NRL side, but you will be at Wenty for rest of your contract time. I say that with a tinge of sadness as I always liked him and felt was a better player than he showed, at least in the consistency arena. We have the chance to give a couple of our development forwards… Read more »


We have the titans next week maybe we should just go ahead and play Stefano, Salmon and Kaufusi.

8. Paulo
10. Evans
14. Salmon
15. Stefano
16. Niukore
17. Kaufusi

John Eel

Colin I guess you are aware already but the game is available on


Not sure if I agree with all the calls for “blooding” newbies right now. The difference between us and the Dogs is we ARE playing semi finals this year. Panthers are still only a 50/50 chance IMHO so to some extent they are able too roll the dice with the risk. Whilst I’d love to see the energy that the young guys bring, now is the time for cool heads. Who knows the joke about the old bull and the young bull? What I absolutely agree with is that Tepai should have worn the Blue & Gold for the last… Read more »


It’s no accident that the 10 mins after half time where we looked most vulnerable coincided with the same 10 mins that Reed was off the field. The minute he came back on we shored up or middle defense and started to win back the ruck. As mentioned above, I don’t know why BA refuses to put a genuine hooking option on the interchange. Especially when players like Tep are only getting 10 mins of game time. Surely Salmon has more to offer, especially if one of our halves or centres go down? Other than that, the game was one… Read more »


He’ll end up playing taka off the bench which I hate because he really won’t know how to play that role unlike Salmon.


3 weeks in a row weve looked flat after halftime we need a hooker on if its Salmon/stone/smith i dont care as long as we keep our shape my prefrence wpuld be a fit stone.
Tepai doesn’t justify his place


Good ratings Forty. Do you get the impression MJennings had a few extra ice creams while rehabbing the knee? I was looking forward to Kane Evans using some more excessive force, he needs to string a few together to properly announce his arrival(belated). First game where it was clear that managing field position can be a controllable factor(for us I mean). Really well done, and it does take a lot of moving parts to achieve, hope it continues. Also, we shrugged off ruck penalties and stuck to our guns. NBrown works hard in the tackle (legally) to arrest momentum, just… Read more »


Well done 40twenty. Your grades for each player are usually more comparable, one to another when gauging each players performance against and with the rest of the team. This I like. It’s practical and measurable. For me, it gives substance to each players contribution to the overall team effort. On the other hand Mitch’s bold and personal assessment of individual performances has an unrivaled and passionate element to it. Much like the character of a school teacher when adding his personal assessment of how he sees the student, rather than the performance achievement of said, same individual and it often… Read more »


Agree with your gradings. What an important win. I was really worried when Evans was ruled out and the worry continued as we pretty much, only had a 2 person bench last night. Tep’s error could have cost the game and you could hear and feel the crowds collective anger. Terepo offered nothing…we really need to blood these young guys Stefano and Faianga. Takarangi did some good things but always has at least one error. Anyway, pretty hard to change a winning team but Fergo and Evans are a must if fit. But, If we are looking at the future… Read more »


Great work forty. I cannot fault any of what was said. Agreed about the bench – we are not getting consistent results from all. Not sure what to make of Tepai and Peni. By gee we need a dominant bench if we want to compete further into the yr and finals. Both Brown boys were superb. Lane was almost as good as a Milky Lane burger….just not as expensive and he delivers well. The boys just need to keep the defence and intensity up after half time as mentioned. Mahoney’s spell does hurt and surely they need to rectify this… Read more »

West Coast Eel

Just landed back in Perth after heading to bankwest for the game. Could’ve played better, but they found a way to win. That wouldn’t have happened last year. Dylan Brown keeps improving, Nathan Brown is our forward leader. I agree about Moeroa. I think we’ve got better players than him at the moment. Can’t wait to get back to Bankwest. I was there for the opening and again on Saturday. I’m undefeated at Bankwest Stadium!


Ah Millennials… In my mind I like to pretend Lane cut his finger opening a VB tinnie.


IMO Nathan Brown is the most important player in this team & I also thought Marata performed fairly well in his audition for 2020’s Manu replacement – great aggressive running.
Great read too btw.


I am also impressed with Marata when he comes on as a middle forward to add some punch to our go forward and was not surprised when he was sacked as a starting edge forward and brought back as a bench middle forward replacement. So I very much disagree with putting him back on an edge even though he can play there at a pinch when required. Losing Manu will be hard to cover, we need someone with toughness and skill who can add to our right side attack. Salesi Faiinga is developing well in the NSW Cup and his… Read more »


Rowdy, interested in your thoughts here. When Marata was promoted to firsts, he dead set looked to me like he would grow as an edge forward. Do you think maybe the team’s inability to control the ruck, which is now improving in leaps and bounds, messed up a young forward’s progress? Or do you see other factors?


IMO he’s an edge player with a point to prove – just happens to be in the middle atm.


Good question BDon and there may be some substance to what you’ve suggested however, I’m advised that Marata’s career through the juniors and lower grades had him playing centre and moved to second-row as an edge forward because they are similar with a halfback on that edge between the centre and edge in defense. Part of the move from centre to edge forward historically has been because the centre is usually a big strong young bloke who’s skill, size and toughness almost demand his move closer to the middle. Typical of this was Paul Sait (1970’s) of Souths and Geoff… Read more »


Terry Randall, Ron Gibbs…Hey tks Rowdy, got your thought line. Marata came into a losing team last year and an inconsistent team this year, maybe some learn quicker this way but some may also struggle. In the middle he may be up for another 3or 4kgs in the off-season,108/110kgs, he just looks athletic and would be handful. He looks to me like he half or three quarter busts many tackles.

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