The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 9 at Newcastle


Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels  10

  Newcastle Knights 4


The Good:

Despite some very poor overall form in recent years, Newcastle had come away with the chocolates in 4 of our 5 previous clashes against our boys; nonetheless, today’s win now actually makes it 2 from the last 2 for the Eels. It was no easy contest and it certainly wasn’t pretty but it’s good to get a couple of back to back wins over those pesky Novocastrians.

Thanks to Andrew from Rugby League Project, the Eels have now scored 142 points in the second half of games, conceding only 42; with tonight’s clash the 6th time this year (Dogs, Titans, Broncos, Panthers, Cowboys, Knights) the Eels have kept the opposition scoreless in the second half. We’re the best second half team in the competition, and funnily enough the Knights are 2nd.

In short, our resolve was huge for the Eels today and without that defensive grit (and a lucky overstep from Tex Hoy), the Blue & Gold would not have got anywhere near the W. You make your own luck in this game, and the Eels’ ability to turn Newcastle’s attacking raids away again and again was the second best thing to come out of today (after the 2 competition points, of course).

The Bad:
But man, she was ugly.

Although the Eels managed more running metres than the Knights today (2407m to 2316m), they did it despite having less possession (47 to 53), less completions and less sets with the ball overall (28/38 to the Knights’ 34/48). The Eels had a paltry completion rate too (74%), thanfully the Knights were even worse (71%). A fountain of attacking opportunities in 2020, the Eels had less offloads than their opponents for what I suspect is the first time this year, with Newcastle sneaking away 13 to Parra’s 8.

The Eels gave up 7 six-again calls today (enjoying only 4), and also lost the penalty count 4-6.

At the end of the day it’s the points that make the difference, so none of this really matters as long as the Eels manage to learn from it; I suspect BA will relish the opportunity to exploit plenty of lessons from the game tape.

The X-Factor:
I never enjoy hacking on the referees, but gees I thought there was some questionable officiating today. I wouldn’t normally raise them (I leave that to the comments below) because it often goes both ways, but I believe the Reed Mahoney no try after Marata’s play the ball, the Waqa Ponga hit Part 1, the Waqa Ponga hit Part 2 and the Gutho Reed obstruction call were all huge moments that went against the Eels.


While I’m at it, yes, Laney did bobble the ball trying to score; so I’m with the officials on that call. Play on, folks.

The MVP:
Marata Niukore was excellent, as was the HEADS UP (and all round) play from Captain Clinton Gutherson.

I also need to give a huge shout out to the man who is probably many people’s choice for the MVP; Nathan Brown in his return from suspension 2.0 was absolutely unbelievable .

But when the chips were down, when the Eels needed the right play and a cool head under pressure, Reed Mahoney was the man.

A mountain of tackles, a brilliant kicking game (a 4th tackle punch into the backfield in the 60th minute, in particular) and stellar service from the ruck.

That’s Cash Mahoney, fam.

1- Clinton Gutherson (c)

Fullback, Parramatta Eels

For his 100th game last week, Clint Gutherson turned in one of the best performances of his career, but even in that magical 80 minute performance he didn’t demonstrate a heads up play like the one he pulled off this afternoon. In the 64th minute after copping a high shot from Mitchell Pearce, Gutho waited for the ref to assure him he had the correct spot to take the tap and then took off. A double pump to turn the much more fancied (but wildly overrated) Kalyn Ponga inside out, and the Eels second and final try was there for Sivo on a platter.

Add to that try assist his 18 runs (175m), 2 linebreak assists, 5 tackle breaks and an offload, and you’ve got just another day at the office for the King.

2- Maika Sivo

Left Wing, Parramatta Eels

Adding to my above lauding of his captain, a huge well done to Maika Sivo for being there when Gutho took off, allowing the Eels to capitalise on the Knights’ complacency. What seemed like a bit of a quiet afternoon for the Fijian Scud Missile actually looks pretty impressive; 12 runs, 125m, a linebreak, a try, and 3 tackle breaks. With that said, the team high 4 errors would have been better left in the sheds.

3- Michael Jennings

Left Centre, Parramatta Eels

In his least dominant game for a while, the Grey Ghost still managed to cross the 100m mark with his 13 runs (115m), adding his 3 customary tackle breaks. However, again, the 3 errors? No thanks, Mike.

4- Waqa Blake

Right Centre, Parramatta Eels

I thought Willy Waqa Blake was pretty unlucky to give away a penalty for both his first and second hits on Kalyn Ponga, as it seemed to me they were each more brutal than they were late or high.

I imagine the Newcastle custodian will sit upright in bed at about 3am tonight, screaming “LOOK OUT, WAQA’S COMING!” at the top of his lungs.

5- Blake Ferguson

Right Wing, Parramatta Eels

As the scoreless drought extends to a record 9 games, Blake Ferguson continues to find a way to contribute to the Eels success. Today it looked like 17 heavy runs (154m), 4 tackle breaks and no missed tackles.

Just on that, despite some early jitters (see Tweet attached tweet), I thought Waqa and Fergo were MUCH improved for much of today against a pretty dangerous left edge Newcastle attack. I think I speak on behalf of Eels fans everywhere when I say thank heavens for that.

6- Dylan Brown

Five Eighth, Parramatta Eels

It was a much tougher test for Dylan Brown this afternoon against the Knights, in his second clash since Moses went down, not least because of the brutal head clash that sent him for a first half HIA. One of the littlest blokes of the field is once again one of the toughest for the defence to handle, with 12 runs for a massive 127m, a linebreak, 4 tackle breaks and 25 tackles. I think if he had his linebreak time again he would have found his outside men earlier, and he did miss opportunities to put a couple of much needed kicks downfield, but to be honest I’m just grateful we won and said hit didn’t break his pretty little face.

7- Jai Field

Halfback, Parramatta Eels

Finding himself in the Grades with an actual photo this week, Jai Field once again showed he’s more of a lover than a fighter runner than an organiser, on one hand breaking another 4 tackles in his only 3 runs (27m), but still (understandably) ceding much of the organisational control to Gutho when Brown was off for his HIA. Please know this isn’t a mock on the young man, I’m actually becoming quite a big fan, but punters should know that in the traditional number sense, he’s a 7 in jersey only.

What I was more impressed with, however, was the significant improvement in his defence. Asked to make 30 tackles this week (12 more than his 18 last Round), Jai stopped a rampaging Lachlan Fitzgibbon close to the line on at least three occasions, misses that would have likely lead to Newcastle four pointers. That’s a massive step from the young man into a team that prides itself on defensive resolve. Great to see.

8- Reg Campbell Gillard

Prop, Parramatta Eels

Remember the lingering doubts when we signed a struggling Regean Campbell-Gillard from the Panthers? Lingering doubts, be gone.

Today marked yet another MONSTER game from RCG to the tune of 22 hit ups for 226m, 1 tackle break and 42 freakin’ tackles. Quit mucking around Parra and extend his gigantic contract to 2042, already.

9- Reed Mahoney

Hooker, Parramatta Eels

Even without his should-have-been four pointer, Reed Mahoney’s statistics are once again incredible (59 tackles with only 2 misses, 4 runs for 53m, 127 touches, 5 kicks for 116m and a tackle break). However, it was the fashion in which he controlled the play, our tempo, our 4th and 5th tackle options that won me over for today’s award. In short, I thought he was the difference today.

Reed is a well deserved MVP and we now only await his re-signing.

Soon. Please. Thank you.

10- Junior Paulo

Prop, Parramatta Eels

In a quiet, shorter 29 minute stint, the bigger fella got through 9 runs for 90m, a tackle break and 13 tackles. Post game it’s been more than a little interesting that Junior didn’t come back for his second stint, particularly in a game where the Eels were forced to make so many tackles, but BA apparently said there wasn’t much in it. Word is it’s a mild back complaint and he should be fine.

For what it’s worth, coming into today’s game, Junior Paulo sat atop of the NRL leaderboard with 26 offloads, one more than David Klemmer. According to Champion Data, Klemmer slipped away 3 offloads to Big Junez’s 2, in all likelihood now aligning their totals.

11- Shaun Lane

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

Shaun Lane was on the end of a tough decision in the opening seconds of the match, clearly avoiding the sideline after the opening kick. Yet due to both his towering height and positive demeanour it’s thankfully near impossible for him to keep his head down too long, bouncing back to the tune of 12 runs (101m), 2 offloads, 3 tackle breaks and 40 important tackles. The sun rises and once again we see Shaun Lane is a wise investment for the Eels.

12- Ryan Matterson

Second Row, Parramatta Eels

Another week, another four pointer for my wife’s favourite man Eels player. Ryan Matterson also had 11 runs (110m), a linebreak, an offload, 5 tackle breaks, 45 tackles and a body that could polish a diamond.

13- Nathan Brown

Lock, Parramatta Eels

I would not begrudge anyone who awards this man their own MVP award today; Nathan Brown, you absolute machine. Aside from an unfortunate early pushed pass to Shaun Lane, Cyborg was absolutely unstoppable for the Eels today, getting through an incredible 28 (!) runs for 278 metres (how on earth?), 2 tackle breaks and 52 tackles. Something tells me he’s keen to make up for lost time.

Take another look at that stat line, THAT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.

14- David Gower

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Forget the stats, it’s hats off to the good Dr. David Gower for notching up his 100th game in the Blue & Gold today. What a brilliant example of wisdom, humility and the value of hard work you are, good sir.

15- Stefano Utoikamanu

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

I suspect Stefano Utoikamanu will remember his first game like a teenage first kiss; on one hand it was exciting and new, but on the other hand it was later equal measures unfamiliar, later involving an awkward talk from a responsible adult, reminding him of the importance of personal space.

16- Marata Niukore

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Needless to say, it’s more than handy to have a player like Crash to call upon for extended minutes whenever your all star prop forward is only available for the first half. Marata Niukore is quietly having the best year of his professional career, and it’s not even close. This afternoon is no exception as his 39 minute stint off the bench converted to 12 runs (117m), an offload and 26 tackles without a miss. That’s outstanding gear.

17- Brad Takairangi

Interchange, Parramatta Eels

Despite coming up with some massive makes in defence and an important catch from a short drop out, Brad Takairangi’s statline is the airline food of NRL statistics; it’s bland, boring and not really what you expected. The man Forty20 calls the Cook Island Control Tower has 2 runs for 12m and 11 tackles.


Well summed up, Jimmy.

If tonight’s result is anything to go by, next week might even be a little easier for the Blue & Gold, as we face the team St George just beat by 30 points. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple as an Eels fan, particularly against any Silvertailed team with their backs to the wall, so I’ll still no doubt choose to be sweating bullets pre-game.

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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Very tight between brown Mahoney and RCG for MVP. I personally would have went for brown for the points you make, but one decisive one omitted was the 110 post contact metres. He had attacking stats you’d only really expect JT to have plus 52 tackles. That’s outstanding.

Alan Bailey

Another great assessment of our boys performance Mitch. Have to admit, Browny is my MVP He looks like he is keen to make it up for his suspension.


That was a tough game, which revolved very much around defence. It wasn’t pretty, but thankfully being pretty isn’t a requirement, or else Blake Ferguson would be nowhere near a footy field. I don’t think I’ll bother re-watching it, unlike last week. I’m with you Mitch, Cash for MVP, but only just. Reed’s kicking game has come on in leaps and bounds this year – is he part of the group working with Joey? It certainly looks like it, as he’s put in a few very deft kicks over the past few weeks that pull up in the in-goal nicely,… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden

Billy I agree Ferguson is out of sorts. No line break no tries. Hopefully he scores soon n starts a mountain of scoring down their side of the field.


He was still an important cog in the win .

The rev aka Snedden

Not denying that just saying it’s the longest I’ve known Ferguson to go with out a meat pie to his name.


For me, it’s starting to feel like the ‘all guts no glory’ work is mentally dragging him down a little. That’s not saying he’s not doing important things and contributing, it just seems like he’s not enjoying it as much. And when you are putting your body on the line like that, you’ve got to be enjoying something about it to keep doing it. I want to see a linebreak or a freaky try put-down cos I think it’ll perk him up, not because he needs it to justify his role.

Last edited 20 days ago by Billy
!0 Year Member

Anyone whom does not think Fergo is an important part of our success knows nothing about football. I truly believe Fergo could not give a stuff about a try when we are atop the table. I can never forget when he got his nose broken against the raiders, by accident in a hit up, then those grubby raiders, namely Wighton grabbing at his face when tackling him, yes, Fergo lost the ball in that tackle, but why was the raider not penalised for hitting above the shoulders? Love the Fergo and everything he brings to the team, would love to… Read more »


Where did I say that?! I pointed out a low effort play in his last game. It happened. It’s uncharacteristic. I posited that a bloke who is used to contributing in a particular way, may feel unsettled by not being able to contribute in that way. Your football knowledge might be outstanding. But if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand basic psychology.

The rev aka Snedden

Outstanding that’s all I have to say about Nath Brown n Reedy. As for the team great defence n much better between Ferguson and Waqa. On Waqa. Mitch I agree very unlucky on both occasions. The 2nd shot Ponga was falling what’s Waqa to do. Dylan Brown. Didn’t he see sivo n Jenko on his left shoulder n clear run to try Line ? I was yelling at my TV. Brad Arthur has stated that they didn’t do much ball work last week leading up to the Game. This week if Moses is cleared to play let’s work on handling… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden

Mitch or sixties any chance of a player’s injury update please boy’s.

All I know of is Oregon kaufusi 4 week’s along with stone at 4 week’s. I heard Brad Arthur say that Kane Evans is about 2 week’s so hopefully we get back to full strength by Rd 20.


Mahoney and NBrown were standouts, both deserved MVP. Mitch, if I could add to the officiating queries. The advantage rule is looking dodgy. A few weeks back a bloke ran 35 mtrs then only had to evade one scrambling tackler to hit open territory, but got tackled into touch. Ref ruled no advantage. Today, Moga was allowed by the ref to pick up the ball, surge to the try line and lose the ball whilst grounding it. Ref ruled no advantage…but isnt that as big an advantage you can get? You’re permitted to score, the reason you don’t is because… Read more »


So hard to split Reed and Nathan Brown. Reed gave our attack some direction and he was the only one who really kicked smart but without Nathan Brown we don’t get the go forward to enable Reed to make good choices. Brown seemed to get through the line each time and bent the line back which gave Reed some time. I will say we should split the MVP because they performed a perfect tag team in the second half. The most pleasing thing was we played really dumb but kept turning up and just waited for Sutton to wave his… Read more »

Jezza @ WA

Two significant points not raised in the article: 1/ for a lengthy period during the game our 5th tackle options were atrocious! Several opportunities to kick downtown or to execute a play close to the line went begging due to the team being disorganised; 2/ several times close to the line, Reed was in the backline and the pass from dummy half was very poor leading to a loss of momentum or possession. Both these points need to be identified and ironed out before next week or we may not get away with a narrow win again!


One of our best wins in years. A notorious ground for us to win at and even though it was not pretty it was tough and resolute. They can keep their Turbo and their Teddy and their Ponga, the mighty KING will do me. A truly inspirational player.


Pretty sure coaching staff notice these things without our help , thats why they keep winning jezza .

West Coast Eel

We won that with our D. We were pretty ordinary in attack, but this is a side that can play poorly and still win. Our defence is the best in the league. Mahoney MOM – just re-sign him already! Ref was ordinary (both ways I thought). No excuses for this eels side. Just getting the job done, and I’m excited!


Cannot fault any of the grades Mitch, well done. It was a shame Stefano did not get more mins (literally). I was v impressed with our composure tbh as being without Moses and having a v inexperienced halves pairing was good to see.


Probably our worst game of the year so far. We showed such discipline in the opening 8 rounds, it was frustrating to see so many poorly completed or incomplete sets. Our defense got us there in the end and it’s important to remember we didn’t have Paulo (a huge part of our attack within the opposition 20) on the field for the majority of the game. Our tactics of jamming in worked a treat, I can’t remember either Knights winger getting decent ball all game. It’s a risky tactic but credit to our winger/centre combos for some great one on… Read more »


I was at Sterlo bar @ the Leagues club last night to watch the game and didnt really notice the start. I have just watched the replay and i am absolutely shocked how the touch judge could have got the foot on the line by Shaun Lane. The touch judge was right there! What is wrong with these people? Are there any jobs going?

The rev aka Snedden

Lane asked for a captain challenge. But gutherson said we will back our defence to hold them up


yeah understand, but how could the touchie miss that!? i guess asking too much?

The rev aka Snedden

I thought I’d heard Guth say we will back our defence.all good thanks mitch

Jimmy Corbo

I can now tick off “getting a mention on TCT” of my Bucket list, thank you Mitch. She was ugly but it is great to say that we won a game based on defence, I couldn’t tell you the last time we did that. The flip side being that after so many years of being battered as a fan, we are first having lost just one game and I still look at back eight spot and quickly work how many points we have in hand, the scars are deep….. Any news on the grapevine on Mahoney re-signing, the passage of… Read more »

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