The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 8 vs Cowboys


Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels  42

  North Queensland Cowboys 4


The Good:
The Eels scored 7 tries to 1 tonight, and have now won an incredible 7 from 8 to start Season 2020. The Eels are now 2 points clear whilst boasting an outstanding 108 point differential to sit comfortably atop the NRL Premiership Ladder.

A couple of pesky injuries and suspensions aside, it’s pretty much all great news for the Blue & Gold Army and a wonderful time to be a fan of the Parramatta Eels.

In other encouraging news, tonight the Eels ran an incredible 2805 metres, (compared to the Cowboys 1885m), threw another 23 offloads (NQ just 7), completed more sets (36 from 42, 86%) than the Cowboys even started (24 from 34, 71%) and broke a ridiculous 49 tackles attempted by the team I’m blaming for all those Great Northern Beer ads.

Soak it in Eels fans, because right now, in this moment, everything is wonderful.

The Bad:
In short, our right side defence is still very much at sea, but more on that later.

Coming into tonight, the Cowboys had won 11 of their last 15 clashes against the Blue & Gold and managed to knock us out of contention on both occasions we met them in the Finals. Also, whenever we play the Cowboys, my mind can’t help but shift back to this horrific flashback:

But after tonight’s shellacking, it finally feels like we can move on from the Thurston shaped ghosts of our Cowboy Christmases past.

The X-Factor:
I think the most X-Factor moments of tonight’s game happened to the guys in the other dressing room. Here’s a story in four parts:

Coming into the game, the Cowboys had a relatively paltry 3-4 record, having only beaten the Dogs away from their fancy new stadium. Fortunately that trend continued tonight and the Cows were unable to nab their fourth win at our fancy new stadium.

Jason Taumololo averages 252 running metres a game in 2020; tonight he only ran for 161. That’s a really big deal.

Kyle Feldt had scored 8 tries in his previous 5 starts against the Eels. In what can only be seen as incredible generosity, tonight he instead let Maika Sivo score 4.

A couple of weeks ago, Eels players not named Michael Jennings had 12 total tackle breaks against the Roosters across 80 minutes. Tonight the Eels had 29 at the half, and 49 by full time.

It’s a funny old game, Rugby League.

The MVP:


You’d be very hard pressed to find another game where a bloke scoring 4 tries (and his 30th in 33 games, mind you) misses out to not one, not two, but three of his teammates.

Maika Sivo brilliant, Junior Paulo incredible, Dylan Brown outstanding but tonight’s MVP goes to the 100 game man, the King of the West, Mr Clinton Gutherson.

1- Clinton Gutherson (c)

Fullback, Parramatta Eels

After a week of press drooling over the hardworking larrikin from the beaches who has made his home in the Golden West, you could have forgiven Clint Gutherson for going through the motions, playing it safe and having a relatively quiet outing. Instead, in his 100th game, rocking Danny Zucko’s confidence and a head of hair you could set your watch to, the King had maybe his best ever performance in the Blue & Gold.

Tonight Gutho threw three long passes for Sivo tries that could each find a spot in passes of the season highlight reels. He kicked 7 from 8 goals, four of which were hugging the sideline. He ran for 255 metres, had 22 hit ups, 3 linebreak assists, a linebreak, 7 tackle breaks and 6 tackles. That’s about 3 games worth of NRL player statistics rolled into one.

It’s an admittedly hotly contested field, but if Clint Gutherson is not one of your best 5 fullbacks in the NRL for Season 2020, you haven’t been paying attention.

2- Maika Sivo

Left Wing, Parramatta Eels

Last week Maika Sivo scored the Eels final try and got punched in the face by Jordan Rapana for his troubles. Tonight, he instead didn’t get punched in the face and scored four tries. The Fijian Scud Missle’s tally now stands at an incredible 30 tries in 33 starts, and I think 20 tries in 17 appearances at Bankwest Stadium. Good heavens.

Other than the hambone four bagger, Maika also got through 13 runs (131m), 5 tackle breaks, 4 linebreaks, and 2 tackles. That’s amore.

3- Michael Jennings

Left Centre, Parramatta Eels

Michael Jennings didn’t do much wrong tonight, he just wasn’t out of this world like a number of his teammates. His 10 runs for 82 metres, try, linebreak, 3 tackle break game is very solid and incredibly, with his 152nd career try tonight, the Grey Ghost is now equal 11th in the all time try scorers list. That’s all time, all NRL competitions, ever.

4- Waqa Blake

Right Centre, Parramatta Eels

Coming off a poor game last week against the Raiders, Waqa Blake was excellent in attack tonight; scoring a back breaking try, adding a try assist, linebreak assist, a tackle break and 9 tackles. He was brilliant in the aerial contest and the Eels were much better for him being out there (hence the Grade).

Criticised in recent weeks for his pedestrian defence, it should also be noted that Waqa did a good job turning away a couple of Cowboys raids in the early going, and was rightfully  credited with a try saving tackle.

However he and Fergo got it very wrong in the 35th and 38th minute as Justin O’Neill was left all alone, the latter break leading to the Cowboys sole four pointer. From that point on, every time the Cows found themselves in attacking position, they went to our right like a magnet, miraculously not coming up with anything of value, despite effectively breaking through or running around our line on multiple occasions. I’ll no doubt continue the rant below, but there are pretty significant danger signs Where the Wild Blakes Are. In short, it was an improved, but nonetheless mixed bag for Waqa tonight.

5- Blake Ferguson

Right Wing, Parramatta Eels

Coming into Round 8 yet to score a try in 2020, Blake Ferguson will now exit the Round in the same way. For a team leading the competition and scoring more points than almost any other team, that fact in itself is pretty incredible. We can talk about the incredible 22 runs for 236 running metres, the 3 tackle breaks, the no mistakes and his offload. Other than the try drought, there is little doubt that Fergo is in excellent attacking touch (hence the Grade).

However, it must be said again that he and Waqa Blake’s right edge defence is a straight up defensive bushfire. I’m not sure who forgot whose name or what language one of them is speaking, but these two gentlemen are clearly not on the same page at the moment. I’m just hoping it gets fixed real soon.

It seems harsh to lay it on too thick when we won by almost 40 points and only conceded the one try, but if we faced a team with any sort of attacking cohesion and a touch more luck tonight, this would be a very different Post Game Grades.

To top it off, with 8 minutes to go, Blake Ferguson got hit in the nuts.

6- Dylan Brown

Five Eighth, Parramatta Eels

You know in the 1960s when the Beatles would tour cities and girls would scream, cry and faint at the very thought of them? That’s sort of how I feel about Dylan Brown.

For a young player to be so composed and in control, to be so proficient in attack, so reliable in defence, to soak up the added pressure of Mitch’s injury like a sponge and actually rise to the occasion? At 20 years of age? It’s unheard of.

The statistics will tell you the young bloke went for 11 runs (102m), 2 try assists, a linebreak assist, 4 tackle breaks and 24 tackles; but they don’t near tell the story of how good a footballer he was tonight, or hint at how good he could end up becoming.

7- Jai Field

Halfback, Parramatta Eels

In his first game in the Blue & Gold, and with the weight of Peter Sterling’s famous jersey draped across his shoulders, young Jai Field (pronounced “Jay”) came up trumps.

Although his first touch (a poor kick under pressure that effectively went sideways) was less than ideal, a try, 10 runs for 92m, a linebreak and an incredible 8 tackle breaks is a very tidy start to his career in the Blue & Gold. A couple of concerns in defence (18 tackles, 4 missed) aside, it was a damn fine outing for the young man and I very much hope he finds a home as our new and improved ‘wild half/fullback utility’ guy going forward.

8- Reg Campbell Gillard

Prop, Parramatta Eels

After his monster game last week, Reagan Campbell-Gillard turned it up again to the tune of 20 runs for 200 metres, an offload, a tackle break and 33 tackles. Holy moly.

RCG actually being good again? I must say, I have enjoyed this turn of events.

9- Reed Mahoney

Hooker, Parramatta Eels

Other than a mildly mistimed kick, everyone’s favourite nuggety hooker just kept on keeping on tonight with 5 runs for 46 metres, 3 tackle breaks and a team high 45 tackles (only 2 missed). We all love you Reed, just announce your re-signing already, mate.

10- Junior Paulo

Prop, Parramatta Eels

If Junior Paulo’s humongous stature were a statistic, it would read 23 runs for 205 metres, 3 tackle breaks, 8 offloads and 25 tackles. An absolutely incredible performance by the big man who is rightfully being touted as an Origin bolter (admittedly about 3 months too early).

Many people might not be aware that Junior Paulo recently played the role of the giant in an amateur production of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. His character was to scale, there was no makeup required.

11- Shaun Lane

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

I’m going to be straight with you all, I just love Shaun Lane.

Tonight, the Tall Drink of Water was just as effective running the ball (15 times, 131 metres, 2 offloads, 1 tackle break) as he was running great decoy lines for a couple of Sivo specials.

I also enjoyed his fancy haircut.

12- Ryan Matterson

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

13- Marata Niukore

Lock, Parramatta Eels

In his most recent instalment of “Nathan Brown isn’t here, man”, Marata Niukore went absolutely nuclear, particularly in the first half. Running a million times in the opening 15 minutes, Crash ended up with 15 runs (166m), 2 tackle breaks, an offload and 19 tackles.

Showing the first fruits of the fertile soils of Kellyville Park, that’s just brilliant from a bloke who many considered borderline NRL calibre just a couple of seasons ago. Hats off to both he and the coaching staff for the way he’s come on as an NRL player.

14- Ray Stone

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Like a saw mill to a pine tree, try scoring machine Ray Stone will chop you in half. Tonight’s 4 runs, 46 metres and tackle break barely scratch the surface of what his 22 tackles did to the vital organs of his opponents.

15- David Gower

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

David Gower’s first touch for 2020 was not ideal, dropping the ball within sight of the tryline, but the old man did make an absolutely crucial tackle on Val Holmes a couple of minutes later. By now, we know exactly what we’re going to get from Gowie; always solid, never flashy and forever reliable, and tonight was no different with 8 runs, 82 metres, 4 tackle breaks and 20 tackles. Speaking of forever, I hear David Gower is so old he attended school before ‘History’ was a subject.

16-Oregon Kaufusi

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

At the other end of the age spectrum, Oregon Kaufusi is a young buck willing and able to make a lot of footballing noise. Tonight he continued his rich vein of forward form, running 12 times for an impressive 114m, slipping away an offload and making 16 tackles. I get the feeling The Big Easy has now earned his spot as a well deserved mainstay in the Eels top 17 rotation.

17- Brad Takairangi

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Dubbed by experts as the likely halves replacement in Mitch Moses’ absence, Brad Takairangi instead retained his utility position from the bench. Brad will be found on endless Eels highlight reels in the coming days, tipping the ball on for Sivo’s fourth four pointer and getting a try assist for his own collection. Furthermore, the Cook Island Control Tower also brought 5 runs for 52 metres to the table, as well as a linebreak assist and 2 tackle breaks. That’s good gear, Taka and exactly what I imagine BA was looking for from him.

It’s after midnight; must be time to start the rewatch.

Looking ahead, I circled next week’s clash against Knights as our toughest contest when Moses got injured. With that said, going into a tough clash in Newcastle with 7 wins under our belt is not a bad way to go about it.

Whatever happens, I’ll see you then, sports fans.


Go you Eels,



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

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29 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 8 vs Cowboys

  1. Billy

    How much fun was being at that game eh Mitch? Gutho was indeed the MVP, and you’ve short-changed him on the kicking stats; I think you’ll find it was 7 from 8, not 6 from 7. Hats off to Paulo, RCG and especially Brown – so much composure for such a young man. I loved how disgusted he was with himself when he kicked the ball dead in goal, those are the kind of standards we want to be set, but he didn’t let it derail his confidence. Oh yeah, and the four-try dude too…

    Field was impressive in attack, but the defensive deficiencies were definitely there. The coaching staff have done wonders for Moses on that front, so hopefully they (and he) can do the same. As for that right edge defence… oh boy. Just as well the Cowboys were woeful, they botched several golden opportunities where we really should’ve been made to pay. As you said, a good team will burn us badly.

    Was Jenko injured, or was it just the old man getting an early mark? He appeared to be fine walking around after the game, but I was rather surprised to see Takaz back in the centres. Nice tip on to Sivo though, and no kicking, so all good!

    1. mitch Post author

      The defence gives us an area to improve going into the back half of the year and I think Jennings was just given a breather (he’s like 90)

  2. Andrew

    Great to be back watching live footy again, the king backs up his golden field goal last week, with some great try assists and some amazing conversions from the side line. My only disappointment was the majority of tries scored by Mika were on the opposite side of the field to where I was sitting.

    1. mitch Post author

      I will make some calls, Andrew and make sure that does not happen again!

      Good you got to attend again mate. Gutho is playing out of his skin!

  3. Trouser Eel

    Another great write up Mitch.
    The grounds staff at Bankwest Stadium deserved a B+ for their work on the turf. Though the “open” stadium with Covid19 compliant spaced out crowd did nothing to keep any heat in. It was freezing out there. For this, I give them an overall score of C.

  4. David

    Hey mitch
    Biggest concern is that right side defence, isn’t that addo Carr’s wing, he’ll cut them to pieces. In saying that fergo will step up against his best mate hopefully. Who do they drop to bring back Brown and Evans must be Gower and Stone and does this squad mean we’ve seen the last of terepo and alvaro. Fergo never looks like he’s doing much out there till you see his stat’s hey
    Keep up the good work mate

    1. mitch Post author

      Thanks mate. I wonder how you fit Marata, Kane, Oregon, Taka and Stone into four spots.

      1. greg okladnikov

        i think Oregon and Marata are definites. Field in a number 14 could offer something off the bench – speed – once Moses is back. Then it just might be one spot left…..may depend on who we are playing, but I think Stone or Evans

        1. Rowdy

          Just a thought Greg, but if you asked opposition coaches and or players who they would rather not come on in our bench rotation and named the 5 or 6 in contention for our bench, Kane Evans would win hands down, followed by Marata. The others, except for Taka are still reserve graders compared to the big fella who is doing exactly what BA bought him for back in 2018.

      2. Rowdy

        Sadly Stone goes or plays week in week out with Oggy? I don’t mind either way. With the big bodies of Marata and Evans on the bench giving us that devastating impact we can afford Taka and anyone for the last spot imo.

  5. Trapped in the 1970’s

    Niukore has been fantastic. What a brute force he’s turned out to be with and without the ball. Very polished win by a very good and improving team.

  6. DDay

    Good fun write-up Mitch, someone’s in a good mood!

    A dominant performance by the Eels as confirmed by 9 ‘A’s. The Cowboys had a go but ultimately just couldn’t keep up with the Eels. Our fitness is next level, the longer the game went the greater the gap between the 2 teams.

    Reg and Jr are in prime form – what a match-up against Klemmer & Saifiti next week. We coped without Moses, Brown & Gutho stepped up to lead the attack, happy days when you have multiple points of attack.

    1. mitch Post author

      I think the Newcastle pack will be one of our toughest tests this year, along with Manly and the Roosters.

  7. Parramatta Tragic

    Another great review Mitch. Interesting analogy with The Beatles and Dylan Brown. The Beatles arrived in Sydney in 1964 but in 1965, even more people turned up at the airport to greet Shintaro. More people went to the Shintaro shows at the old Sydney Stadium then went to see the Beatles shows. If D Brown was the Beatles last night, then Gutherson was Shintaro

    1. mitch Post author

      Ha, I just knew the Beatles comment would result in an obscure 60s reference in the comments. More power to Shintaro!

  8. West Coast Eel

    Great game. How good is the weekend after a win like that on a Friday night. Our right edge was a little shaky, but I was always confident we’d win that game. That may have been ‘The King’s’ best ever match. I love that nickname!
    I’m dying to get over there and watch a game very, very soon.

  9. One Put Pete

    Loved the game and am also concerned about the right hand side. They need to have faith in each other.
    A great game wrap and loved the “Wild” reference. Next week will be another challenge but cannot wait to see the team and how they come up after 10 days off the paddock

  10. BDon

    Yep, Gutho A+. I was waiting for one of his surges to break into open pastures,the hairstyle bolting to the stripe, Cowboys chasing from all angles. Instead, he just put them in disarray and set his team up. Every team needs a Niukore, runs and tackles hard, energy and concentration, no frills, gives,takes, no whinging.And he’ll get better.

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