The Cumberland Throw

Whisky Musings – Round 11: Sometimes Getting The Job Done Is Enough

Round 11 Drink Of Choice – Starward Nova


Even if you are working a dream job inevitably there will be a stretch where everything conspires to impose a seemingly infinitesimal amount of drudgery upon your weary shoulders. No matter how hard you try, normal sequences don’t go right for whatever reason – your register is slightly out at end of day, the balance sheet doesn’t quite add up or you drop an item of importance despite giving the task your utmost concentration. The workplace grind had caught up with the Parramatta Eels in recent weeks, of that I have little doubt. They had been running red-hot for two months, even amidst a mounting injury toll, and they just couldn’t push forwards any longer culminating in the insipid performance against the Sea Eagles last week.

Parramatta weren’t alone in that regard. The Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders have produced a handful of scratchy performances in recent weeks that can equally be attributed to the weekly grind and the wear and tear on playing personnel.

The Eels needed to reset this week and ultimately they did just that. Even if some of the same issues plagued their start to the game for the third straight week, they pushed through the mental barrier to get the job done. And sometimes that absolutely is enough.


Best wishes to Michael Chee-Kam

The media tried their darndest to build this game up as a revenge fixture laden with more spite than a throwdown between Michael Jordan’s Bulls and the Bad Boy Pistons. That bled into the game for a single moment when Russel Packer’s solitary contribution of note for the entire game (barring an awful crusher tackle) was concussing Ryan Matterson in the 11th-minute of play. Packer tried to jaw-on with the dazed Matterson, who was quickly ensconced by a concerned Blake Ferguson who showed outstanding camradie and initiative to take care of his wounded brother.

The response in turn from the Eels (and the crowd as well it should be said) when Michael Chee-Kam suffered a horrific head-knock thankfully didn’t reciprocate any of the earlier negativity. Chee-Kam, who underwent convulsions, after suffering consecutive concussions in lightning fashion from contact with Shaun Lane’s hip and then the Bankwest turf looked to be in the worst kind of way as a swarm of trained medical staff attended to him. Fortunately, early reports following his departure from the game on a medicab suggested he was up and about and would head to the hospital for scans at a later point.

It was a graphic reminder that these men are indeed mortal, even though they engage in one of the most gladiatorial codes in the world every week. I hope Michael Chee-Kam can make a speedy recovery from the ordeal.


Brown vs Blore is what rugby league is all about

Continuing with the positive theme for the time being, a shout out to Nathan Brown and the rookie Wests Tigers forward Shawn Blore for a frenzied series of skirmishes where both men tore into each other with the kind of single-minded zealotry usually reserved for ancestral blood feuds. The old school run-in all started when Blore whacked Brown off the ball, an infringement that should have resulted in a penalty. The Eels did score an unrelated penalty shortly after and from there the two went at each other with hammer and tongs. It was a fantastic spectacle with neither player resorting to cheap shots or foul play and instead simply throwing their every fibre into each run and tackle.

Even better, as soon as the game was wrapped up they immediately sought each other out to shake hands and share a laugh about the heated engagements. That right there,that is footy, ladies and gentlemen.


Hot-hand Harry can’t go the distance

There is no doubt that Harry Grant is the best player at the Wests Tigers by some considerable margin. Everything positive about their gameplay runs through him and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he jumps ahead of Reed Mahoney for Origin selection at the end of the season. The Tigers surged out of the gates last night on the back of his scheming work from dummy-half and while the pass was blatantly forwards it was his final-touch that put Luciano Leilua over for the first try.

Yet as good as he was in that opening half an hour – and he was red hot – he struggled to make an impact as the game wore on and the Eels began to establish their dominance through the ruck. Obviously a portion of Grant’s ineffectiveness comes from the sheer difference in class between the two forward packs but he too will learn to better pace himself as the match experience comes to him.


A big man try for the ages

The legend of Reagan Campbell-Gillard is growing on a weekly basis. Not content with smashing out his 5th consecutive game in excess of 200m on the ground, The Fully Loaded Man channeled the very best of Payne Haas with a heroic 50m effort that resulted in one of the most spectacular big man tries in the modern game.

Andrew Davey and Clinton Gutherson both deserve plenty of credit in the lead-up for a quality off-load and short-ball respectively but whenever a Mack truck transforms into a Maserati it is hard to do anything but admire the sheer majesty of mother nature working in her beautiful, mysterious ways.

Spare a thought for Adam Douhei if you can because he is going to be on a lot of highlight reels for the wrong reason moving forwards.


Another slow start but the cool head prevails

Thursday night marked the third straight game where the Eels haven’t been able to kick off to a clean start and in doing so have gifted their opponents the opportunity to seize the initiative. Against the Knights they showed a steely resolve that completely conquered the self-inflicted handicap while the effort against Manly swung to the other end of the spectrum. Last night they were more true to the kind of defensive intensity that has defined much of the 2020 season but even so they spotted the Tigers a number of soft tries.

Part of the fight back this week was engineered by returning shot-caller Mitchell Moses as he scored a stellar individual try and marshalled his team around the park on the back of an excellent long-kicking game. His chip kick was a result of keen vision and pure genius but he did a wonderful job of completely nullified the impact of the Tigers’ back three throughout the game.

I can’t say that I am chuffed about another start bogged down by errors and inefficient play but the boys rolled their sleeves up and got the job done after a 5-day turnaround. As I intimated before, sometimes that is indeed enough.


Air Fergo

Blake Ferguson might be on the greatest try-scoring drought of all-time. Not from the length of the streak by any means but from the nature in which he has been denied throughout the 2020 season. He started in Round 1 against the Bulldogs by nearly scoring the opening try of the year in a barnstorming effort down the right sideline only to graze the paint and he trumped that by several orders of magnitude last night.

Although the knock-on/accidental offside against Davey and Gutherson were 100% the correct calls on the play, Ferguson’s insane hops and hang-time followed by his gravity defying put-down (HOW DIDN’T THE BALL SEPERATE FROM HIS HAND!?) make it one of the greatest tries that never was.

Maybe he breaks the duck egg in the most mundane of ways against the Bulldogs but no-one can fault Fergy-Fergs for not trying his utmost to break the streak through 11 games!


The Final Word

This was a game that the Eels had to have. I spoke about how great teams don’t lose two on the trot earlier this week and Parramatta did what they had to do against a Wests Tigers team that was chomping at the bit to spring an upset. The 5-day turnaround coupled with a battery of walking wounded in their starting roster meant this way always going to be a tough game and they soldiered through the pain barrier.

Even with the win, Parramatta face the likely prospect of dropping a place on the ladder this week with the Panthers expected to reclaim first place with a win over the Gold Coast Titans while Melbourne should leapfrog the Eels on points-differential with a solid win over the Broncos.

All that is secondary in importance mind you. If the Eels keep winning the ladder takes care of itself (since we play both the Storm and Panthers in the coming rounds) and for now they have secured a mini-bye with a 10-day break until their clash against the Bulldogs. Parramatta now have the chance to recoup and regroup before launching an all-out assault on the second half of their draw with a number of reinforcements due on the horizon. We are nearly full-go folks and I am pumped up for what the future will bring.

See you all next week!

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Darryl West

As always, you’ve nailed it. I noticed Browny and the young fellah after the game and that was more than pleasing. Fergo is an incredible athlete for a big man. I still have a feeling that he is walking wounded. His actions with Matto screams as to the value of him to the team. I was more than scepticle when it was announced that he was to be with my Eels but I am totally converted. His attitude is infectious and the club has been the better for his arrival.I hope for everyone’s sake, he doesn’t do the nudie run… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Darryl West
John Eel

Forty I can’t remember a year like this. There are a group at the top of the ladder another group at the bottom and then there is a third group in the middle fighting over the remaining spots in the top eight. There is also the spectre of the Covid 19 epidemic and the effects that has had on the season including shuffling the draw, shortening the season and the uncertainty of rule changes. Having said all that the GF will be just as difficult to win this year as any other. However I am at the point where I… Read more »


Well done forty…..a very thoughtful understanding of nuances.

!0 Year Member

Great effort. The second half was disappointing considering how much ball we had. Still some spit and polish to go. What I was most impressed about is that we play tough without thuggery. That is so impressive about the team and I am now more than proud of over 40 years supporting our team about how good the boys are and how they play.


To give the opposition a leg up when they are freshest, strongest and clear-headed is a tough gig. Wests looked blue ribbon there for 15 minutes, we did well to claw back and I actually thought by the 35 minute mark our pack wasn’t running second. Moses’ kicking game was a welcome return. Our scramble is good, Benji tested it a few times in the 2nd half. West couldn’t buy a repeat set and we did what we had to do to keep them in check.


It felt like we won the 1%ers last night – like Brown coming through on the kick chase to knock the ball loose from Mbye, or Reed diving on the loose ball as he was just more desperate than the Tiges. Grant was their best in attack, and we didn’t do a good job on him at all – I was pretty disappointed in our marker defense on him, I’m sure it was all over the tip sheet that he runs from marker more often than anyone else. As promising as the kid looks, I do think he’ll get found… Read more »

greg okladnikov

Great write up as always. The biggest difference this year , in my humble opinion, is the resilience to hang in there when things aren’t going our way – slow start, or a 50/50 call against us, or an injury to a key player early in a game. Even against Manly the last 60 mins we won 18-4. That ability to hang in has then meant that when opportunities come we have been able to take them and win games. And also backed our defence. Winning games when not at your best has been the big reason why the roosters… Read more »


Very good win; Wests threw a lot at us in attack and defence and i am glad we held firm and showed some maturity to stay tough and true to ourselves. Wests can do some damage if they put together 80 mins.
For us I thought our pack was strong, and the guile of Moses and Brown were v good with Gutho his usual high consistent self.

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