Round 19 – Friday 18th September 2020 @ Bankwest Stadium
Final Score – Eels 26 defeated Broncos 12
It was a very much improved performance from the Eels this past Friday night against the Broncos.
After a tryless match against the Panthers, it took just 20 minutes for the Eels to register points against Brisbane and as we went in for oranges, the Eels had put on four tries and the score looked like it could have been anything.
Then came the second half, and after the Broncos opened up the scoring in the second stanza, Jai Field pounced on a loose pass from Issac Luke to finish the Eels point scoring with 31 minutes still to play.
Did the Eels take the foot off the pedal? Again, are we asking about attitude and game fade?
The Eels had 52% possession rate with 49 and a half minutes with the ball and a large portion of that time in the Broncos 20, at a tick over 30 minutes there.
To break that down further, the Eels had 18 minutes 10 seconds in the Broncos 20 in the first half, then 12 minutes 21 seconds in the second half.
With the Eels completing at 82% (36 completed from 44 sets) I would dare say that Brad Arthur would be happy with that.
Our attacking numbers looked a lot better than previous weeks. The Eels ran 189 times for 1886 metres and total metres gained of 2503 metres. That’s 600 metres more than the Broncos.
Brad Arthur and his assistants would be much happier about the team’s defensive numbers. The Eels made 336 tackles with 20 missed tackles and 7 ineffective tackles, a count that’s much better than the 70 plus missed tackles we’d seen over the last couple games.
Hit Up Map
Now this is exactly the type of heat map we want to see from our hit up merchants. How terrific is it to see the red extend into our opposing teams half and the yellow stretch pretty much all the way to the Broncos try line!
Set Starts Map
Again what a contrast this is to the set starts map against the Panthers. Remember, we had just 4 set starts in the Panthers half for the entire game. Against the Broncos, there were multiple set starts from which we built pressure.
It was a dead set master stroke from Brad Arthur to change up the forwards against the Broncos.
Junior and Lane started from the bench with Kane Evans and Andrew Davey starting.
Evans played brilliantly and forged 161 run metres from 15 carries and Davey was strong in defence with 32 tackles and 82 hard running metres from 9 carries.
I had been a bit disappointed in Shaun Lane over the last few weeks. Too often he seemed to be going through the motions. Even though he was running 100+ metres, there was just no vigour in his runs. But starting from the bench gave him a bit of a wake up call. His running had a lot more intensity to it and he was looking for opportunities to offload.
So for Shaun Lane, 9 runs for 103 metres won’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff.
I must give a massive wrap to Oregon Kaufusi. This was in my mind Oregon’s best game. Ten runs for 123 metres was a great return and we finally saw one of our forwards bending the line. What was great with this was our other forwards went with him. It was great to see the more experienced forwards follow the youngster which I think would have given Oggy a great sense of pride. Well done mate.
Our other forwards all played their part. Figures coming from this game are ones similar to our first half of the year.
Junior ran for 120 metres from 16 runs, RCG 108m off 13 runs, Nathan Brown 131m from 16 runs and Ryan Matterson 94 run metres from 10 runs.
Reed Mahoney also deserves highlighting – with his reduced minutes he is looking a better player. He came back well after his week off with a shoulder complaint, completing 30 tackles and providing 2 very well placed kicks.
Great work from our forwards.
Our backs were in fine form on Friday night. Again our captain Clint Gutherson ran for 192 metres. Very inspirational. Adding in a try assist, line break and 2 line break assists for good measure, Gutho was on song.
He was just pipped at the post for run metres by Blake Ferguson. Fergy ran for 194 metres with 2 line breaks and a home meat pie. And though Henry stuffed up, Fergo awarded himself what should have been a second try as well.
Sivo was a little more involved this week. After a barnstorming opening run which saw poor Tyson Gamble only play a minute, Sivo looked to be back at his hard running best. Though his other runs weren’t as potent he still totalled 96 metres off 10 carries, with a spectacular try thrown in for good measure. All in a nights work for the big Fijian.
We actually saw a miracle Friday night. Waqa Blake actually passed the ball to Blake Ferguson. Yes you read right. A much improved effort from Waqa with 15 involvements. His runs did look a lot more dangerous as well. Similar praise goes to Michael Jennings. Both our centres played a good hand with Waqa running 81 metres from 8 carries and Jennings 9 runs for 85 metres.
Looking at the numbers, this match looked much better for Mitchell Moses. It is no secret that Mitch is a confidence player. His attacking options have been a bit off, but after this game, I think you will see a much improved Moses this week, especially against his old club.
I think Mitchell’s game was very good. I can’t deny he hadn’t been running the ball, but he ran for 108 metres against the Broncos with 1 line break, 2 line break assists and 2 try assists. Surely any the shade being thrown over him for this match is a little unjust.
That’s not to excuse his kicking game. Finding the man from every kick wasn’t ideal and this was getting to him a little. Maybe some grubbers or short kicks might be in order to mix up his kicking game a little. Some pressure was let off with bombs going straight to the man. But this is a minor tweak in a long kicking game which netted 427 kick metres.
Jai Field played a great hand with 134 run metres from 11 runs, a line break assist and a try. Not a bad night!
The Final Word
All in all it was a pretty good win from the Eels. If anyone saw Gutherson on the Big League Wrap last night he said they aren’t too worried about blowing teams off the park. Whether you win by 2 points or 20 points, a win’s a win and they are taking it. And that’s what we all should be happy with. We are winning.
Saturday night sees the home and away season come to an end with a tough match against the Tigers at our home ground, Bankwest Stadium.
This is a little dangerous for the Eels as the Tigers are looking to finish the season off on a strong note and send Benji Marshall out a winner. A loss could see the Eels drop out of the top 4 and miss that second bite of the cherry.
For all our hard work this year, it would be a big blow to the Eels if they cant cement a top 4 finish after being there all season.
And if we dare to dream. If we win and the Roosters loose against the Bunnies, 3rd spot is ours with a match up against the Storm in week one of the finals.
That might seem like something we don’t want, but to finish 3rd would be an outstanding achievement in it’s own right.
Yours in Blue and Gold