Rounds 17 & 18
Round 17 v Warriors – Won 24 – 18 Round 18 v Panthers – Lost 2 – 20
This post should provide food for thought as I try to help you digest the last two rounds in numbers and how well, or not so well, the Eels performed in these two games.
Obviously we start at the score board and a win and a loss kicks off the differences.
From a match stats perspective, the numbers couldn’t be any more of a contrast.
In round 17 against the Warriors, the Eels had 52% possession with a 78% completion rate (32 from 41)
Compare this to the 42% possession against the Panthers with a surprisingly impressive 86% completion rate (31 from 36).
Consider that massive swing. The Eels had a decent share of the ball against the Warriors and their attack registered four tries and a host of point scoring opportunities. This was not the case against the Panthers.
Was our attack horrible against the Panthers?
You certainly couldn’t find anything to praise!
Was it simply because of our lack of ball?
Both matches saw a similar number of completed sets. So why couldn’t the Eels score against the Panthers when they posed so much more of a threat against the Warriors? In total numbers of sets given, it was only an extra 5 sets against the Warriors.
There’s actually a statistic that provides the answer to that – time in possession.
In the Warriors game, Parra had the ball for over 44 minutes of the game and spent just a bit 20 and a half minutes in the Warriors 20 metre area.
In the Panthers game, and this shouldn’t come as a shock, the Eels had the ball for 25 minutes and spent just 10 minutes in the Panthers red zone.
So, completed sets don’t tell the story in this Panthers match. The Riff spent close to three quarters of this game of rugby league in possession of the ball. Just let that sink in for a moment.
From having the ball for just more than half a game against the Warriors to only just a quarter of a game against the Panthers, no wonder Parra couldn’t get their attack going. And don’t forget the extra defensive efforts put in against the Panthers. More on that later.
Even with such a startling difference in possession, there are more numbers to consider.
Compare this pair of hit up maps.
- v Warriors
- v Panthers
As you can see from the first graphic, against the Warriors, our forwards laid a good platform for our halves and backs to do their thing.
But the second graphic illustrates that there was absolutely no platform to build on in the following week. The hit ups barely trespassed into Panthers territory. There was zero forward momentum for our edges or halves to work with. Was it a case of lack of ball? Lack of drive? Lack of mongrel in our runs? Or was it a team gassed by an overwhelming defensive workload?
Again a comparison.
- v Warriors
- v Panthers
Wow what a difference and what a horrific map from the Panthers game.
Against the Warriors Parra had plenty of good territory to start their sets and they capitalised on those. But that Penrith game delivered only a grand total of four set starts in the attacking half. FOUR!!!!.
When the Eels review their stats there’s not much to be found here, and yet, it certainly tells the tale of the match.
I am not sure what to put here.
Do I criticize?
Do I praise them?
One thing is certain – the Eels forwards haven’t got the same punch that they delivered earlier this season.
The match offloads have dropped from earlier games with only 7 v Warriors and 10 v Panthers.
The running metres from Parra’s starting front rowers are dropping from when they were the form front row combination in the comp not too long ago, and they certainly aren’t bending the line.
If Parra’s rivals have worked out a way to shut the offload down, its certainly had the effect of nullifying our second phase play. The bench isn’t working as it should with two of our bench forwards getting good minutes and two barely getting any. Is this a fatigue factor or is Brad Arthur and his staff thinking we need our starting forwards out there for longer to start something? Again so many questions.
In saying all that, RCG ran for 143 metres against the Warriors and 105 against the Panthers.
Junior ran 163 metres and 111 metres respectively in these games.
Matterson had a strong performance against the Warriors with 147 run metres but only 86 against the Panthers.
And Nathan Brown. He is trying his absolute best to get us kick started in attack. Against the Warriors he ran 178 metres and against the Panthers 125 metres. You cannot question his work ethic or ticker. Add on 44 tackles v Warriors and 55 v Panthers to boot.
We all saw what our backs did against the Warriors. Both Gutherson and Ferguson ran for 200 metres or more and were outstanding in that game. Fergy finally crossed for a try.
But our left side didn’t even have to have a shower or wash their kit. Sivo ran for 48 metres off 7 carries against the New Zealand side and Michael Jennings ran for just 37 metres off 6 carries. But come the Panthers game, Sivo ran 104 metres and Jennings 101.
I really don’t know what to make of Waqa Blake anymore. Against the Warriors he ran for 104 metres off 13 carries and against the Panthers 68 metres of 8 carries. He has even been pushed out to the wing but still no involvement. If he were to be replaced, who do you replace him with?
Both Moses and Field played excellent football against the Warriors. They ran the ball giving us running options on both sides of the field which saw us put on 16 points in no time. But where was that running game against the Panthers?
Again, we had little ball for the match, but that doesn’t mean you do nothing with it.
Against the Warriors they ran at the line, playing eyes up footy, but last Friday night was the total opposite.
Moses just ran 2 times for 9 metres against the Panthers. Maybe he was so tired from kicking as he did boot the ball for 933 kicking metres to get us out of our own end, something which couldn’t be done carrying the ball.
It is impossible to statistically review the Panthers match without discussing the Eels defence.
For the majority of the game it was outstanding and the Panthers really had to fight to score their points. Two tries came in the last 30 seconds of each half after the Eels were just gassed from all the defending they did, and another try came from a well timed leap from Liam Martin.
But in saying how good the defence was, and the scramble was amazing, missing 57 tackles and having a further 12 incomplete tackles won’t win many games.
Parra made 465 tackles to the Panthers 343.
This equates to the Eels making 122 more tackles than the Panthers, or put another way, it means that they had to defend 20 sets more than the Panthers were asked to do.
As far as I’m concerned, the great defensive work on the line was negated by poor defensive work in the middle of the field which allowed the Panthers to apply such pressure.
We now look forward to a very much improved Eels side for our last home game of the season.
Yours in Blue and Gold