The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 1 at Brisbane


Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels 24

  Brisbane Broncos 16


The Good:
Well, I guess you could say that it was a game of two halves …

Tonight’s come from behind win was an incredible result considering where we were 45 minutes into the game; out of luck, out at sea and completely out of ideas.

For a quick adventure, cast your minds back 3 years (almost to the day). The Eels were comfortably leading a Round 1 game 14-0 against the Panthers; only to completely drop our bundle and concede 24 points to nil from that point on.

It seems that tonight was all just a little bit of history repeating. Thankfully we were on the other end of the story this time around. Still, I think I dealt with it pretty well.

The Eels start the season with a win, and also have plenty of lessons worth learning ahead of next week. Assuming we’re injury free, this very near disaster actually turned out pretty well for the good guys.

Turns out I hate the jerseys much less when we win. Who knew?

The Bad:
That first half:

He admittedly wasn’t out there dropping the ball (9 times in the first half, mind you), and we somehow ended up getting away with it, but the buck of that atrocious first half of Rugby League simply really needs to stop with Brad Arthur. Of course we should still be placing plenty of blame at the feet of the players, but the fact remains they were evidently not mentally (and potentially not strategically) prepared for the beginning of the contest. We can also no longer run from the fact that Waqa Blake and Blake Ferguson are going to continue to leak points until they are separated (and it’s not like they’re magic for one another’s attacking game, either).

With that said, BA surely also deserves a similar dose of credit for the turnaround in the second half. Whatever he said at half time must have done the trick, as good things happen in Rugby League when you stay in the fight, complete your sets, run hard through the middle and kick it to the corners; particularly if you’re wearing Blue & Gold. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

While we’re talking about bad, how about this effort from the recently unemployed intern at the NRL?

Good grief.

The X-Factor:
I think it is easy to underestimate the significance of the Broncos losing Matt Lodge, Xavier Coates and John Asiata (and therefore three quarters of their bench) in such a ridiculously high paced game. Thankfully we were mercifully able to take advantage of an incredibly tired Broncos side.

As one would expect, the numbers showed it a game of two halves too: Parra had 40% of possession in the first half, 57% in the second; completed 10/17 (59%) the first 40, 20/26 (77%) the second.

Across 80 we edged the Broncos in metres 2476 to 2367, had less missed tackles (23 to 46) and most importantly ended up with more points, despite giving up the first 16.

The MVP:
Our NZ born new kid on the block absolutely played out of his skin, but I cannot go past the 8 run, 105 running metres, 2 linebreak, 1 linebreak assist, 1 try assist, 4 tackle break and 56-no-miss-tackle game of Reed “Swampy” Mahoney.


Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Clint Gutherson was both inspirational and instrumental in our second half fight back. CeeGu ran for a whopping 203 metres from his 18 carries, had a linebreak assist, a try assist and a tackle break. I also thought the drop out knock on was more admirable than detrimental.

My wife disagrees, but consider me on Team Topknot until further notice.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Likes: The return of Sivo’s hard running, circa 2019.

Dislikes: The corresponding return of Sivo’s poor defence and inability to catch a high ball.

Speaking of dislikes:

Are stupid comments on sale, or something?


Tom Opacic

3 – Left Centre

Opa-check-him-out. Big Tom certainly wasn’t our problem in the first half, and I thought he really grew into the game in the second; making a number of half breaks and some very important tackles. In short, a very pleasing first hit out for the other, other new bloke.

Waqa Blake

4 – Right Centre

I understand that people will pick sides, and many will understandably see Waqa Blake as the issue. However, for what it’s worth, I choose to dislike him less than I do either Blake Ferguson’s defence or Shaun Lane in general. With that said, my optimism might actually have more to do with his extremely lengthy contract and borderline comedic running style.

And for goodness sake, score a try already you big giraffe.


Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing 

Our two wingers are our 80 minutes in a nutshell. On one hand incredibly frustrating in defence, clumsy and heart attack inducing, on the other they were at times brutally persistent, hard running and spectacular. Fergo scored a cracker of a try, set another up, ran 18 times for 185 metres, had 2 linebreaks and 4 tackle breaks.

You might have also noticed he has a nose like a question mark.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

You know, I was rooting for Dylan Brown in the first half, particularly enjoying his work in defence. But the two dropped balls, almost on the same blade of grass either side of halftime, lost it for me.

The rest of the second half saw plenty more terrific defence and a much better looking running game. Finishing up with 8 runs (86m), 2 offloads and 5 tackle breaks, Dylan was also responsible for a pinpoint perfect second half kick which unfortunately didn’t reap the rewards its accuracy deserved. Make sure you keep your eye on this kid in 2021.


Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Overall I thought Mitch looked a bit freer out there tonight, but there was still no inclination to engage the line in the first half; a symptom of our anaemic attacking structure.

The second half brought much greater poise, and we’ll need him to build on that second half performance; the patience, sniper-like kicks and dynamite acceleration we’ve all come to know and love.

Also, how about that kick into the in goal with 2 minutes to go?



8 – Front Row 

A more than solid 13 runs and 128 metres from son of Julia, paired with 23 tackles, but also one of our many first half fumbles. RCG wasn’t bad tonight, but I’m confident he’ll be even better next week.

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Absolutely unbelievable game. Tonight was the best performance I’ve ever seen from Reed Mahoney. In a sport that continues to emphasise the importance of the bloke in the 9 jersey, if that second half is anything like what Reed will bring each week in 2021, your favourite team’s fortunes just improved dramatically.

As a side note, I love that Reed recently celebrated his game day fresh hair cut on Instagram. You wear a headgear, mate.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row 

Sometimes 100th game fairytales come true; and tonight it was Junior Paulo offloading the ball at will (5), breaking through the line (1), running for miles (14 for 140) and crashing over the try line in the dying seconds to win the game; all while rocking a jersey so big you could fit a damn barbershop quartet in it. As a side note, if you do ever figure out how to tackle him that close to the line without involving the use of heavy machinery, I bet opposition coaches would love to hear from you.

Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

An absolutely horrific game of rugby league from the central target of my pre-season rants. It has been well publicised that BA recently moved Shaun Lane from the left to the right hand side of the field; after tonight’s performance I wish BA instead moved him to left right out.

Tonight Shaun Lane’s grade is an F; F for “fire this tall drink of water into the sun.”

I’m not telling you how many metres he ran, or how many offloads he got away (actually, it was zero), but I will remind you of his three first half errors, and nonchalant defensive attitude. I haven’t been this mad at a clown since McDonalds discontinued the El Maco.


Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

Ryan Matterson has a wonderful face and a body to die for. The 12 runs, 110 running metres, 3 offloads, 1 tackle break, 34 tackles and incredible effort to ensure Jamayne Isaako didn’t escape his in goal in the dying minutes were also pretty good too, I guess.

Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

A shaky start to the game and another culprit who dropped the ball in the first half, it seems as Nathan Brown went, so did the Eels; thankfully when he lifted in an excellent second stint, so did the Eels. Cyborg laid down 15 runs for 119 metres, an offload, 3 tackle breaks and 29 tackles in a redemptive performance that improved as the game went on; brutalising Brisbane defenders like a dirty cop with Bronco blood on his hands.



Oregon Kaufusi

14 – Interchange 

Big Country’s 7 runs for 108 metres and 16 tackles is nothing to sneeze at. Great to see him out there and getting the recognition his body of work deserves. Another young buck worth keeping your eye on as the season progresses.

Isaiah Papali’i

15 – Interchange 

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Isaiah Papali’i just had the best Parramatta Eels debut in many, many years (probably since Manu Ma’u’s 2013 debut, thanks to my esteemed colleague Forty20). In just about any other game he would be an absolute shoe-in for MVP, but his incredible performance (18 runs for 193m, 4 tackle breaks, 30 tackles and an offload) just happened to coincide with the best game I’ve ever seen Reed Mahoney play.

It won’t be long before this guy is your favourite player, and the Warriors must be absolutely kicking themselves.


Keegan Hipgrave

16 – Interchange 

You know what? I didn’t hate it at all. It might be helpful to think of Hipgrave as Nathan Brown Lite.

Will Smith

17 – Interchange 

I know Reed was playing out of this world, but to be honest, I cannot believe Will Smith didn’t get more game time. Play him in the middle for all I care, but every other player out there was absolutely shattered with 10 to go, and Will Smith is still sitting fresh as a daisy on the Judy Dench?

Next week is our first home game for 2021, taking on the champion and undefeated Melbourne Storm.


We’re going to win, too.


Whatever happens we’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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1. Gutho
2. Sivo
3. Opacic
4. Blake
5. Fergo
6. D.Brown
7. Moses
8. RCG
9. Mahoney
10. Paulo
11. Papali’i
12. Matterson
13. N.Brown

14. Kaufusi
15. Niukore
16. Hipgrave
17. Lussick


Curious case of Lane…

Michael Formosa

I couldn’t agree more with all of your comments …….. I too was especially pissed of with Lane performance as well as the discontinued of the El Maco!

Paul Taylor

Mitchy cant really argue too much with your summary. I think our 2020 Blake/Blake defensive issues is still there. EVERY team is going to come again. SIVO looked better with less bulk but still terrible in defence at times.

I like the direct running of the new centre . He can hold a line too. WE really need to lift massively next week or STORM will lap us.

Josh Button

Pretty much agree with everything said here. Reed’s probably played more complete games, but his tackling was first class and the second half attack was great. Loved Papali’i on Eels debut.
Winning shouldn’t take away from how bad that first half was. Any of the top 5 sides would have already put us away. Lucky it was only the Broncos. Melbourne won’t be so kind next week.

Colin Hussey

Mitch, don’t mention those canary abominations.


The Lane, Blake and Blake issues will continue to be a problem for a long time because as we know BA isn’t going to change it.
1st half was horrible 2nd was better but I really left with a lot of fear about the damage that will be inflicted next week.


Why can’t BA drop a player on performance? There are no consequences for a bad game. Other teams have boys ready to go knowing anytime they can get a call up. Here we have a plethora players who forever will be waiting because BA will not put that threat out there. The win was good but absolutely if we replay the first 40 Thursday night they will have a cricket score on us. A great read, very fair grades!! People need to learn that you can critique the team and individual players whilst still being a ‘true supporter’ Welcome to… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Mitch, Lane is a shadow of what he was in his first year, yet against the mules there were times when his defense was good and backed up a few times as well. Thing for me is that he seems to have lost his aggro, and thinks that the contract makes him secure. A trip to see Reggy may also help.

With Marata back next match, perfect time for him to secure a 2nd row spot in the run on side, or have Papali’i start with either one on the bench with Kafusi. I

The rev aka snedden

Papali’i was outstanding last week Colin. Marata should start from the bench he brings great impact from the bench along side papali’i. Give lane a 2nd chance just a bad game for him every one has one a bad day. The problem ppl have mainly us eel fans seem to kick a player when his down. Like on the other eels site. This site is also going down that path. Why because other’s are leaving that ither site to come to the tct.

Colin Hussey

Rev. I don’t disagree in giving Lane or any other player a 2nd chance, along with the rest of the team he was better in the 2nd half but when he came off and a clip showed him on the bench and he was totally gassed. Its not as if he is oversized as to being out of nick but as an overall where was he? first touch of the ball and a knock on & very early in the match. His overall form has slowly gone down hill since mid last season, was because he has secured his future… Read more »


I think you’ve nailed the grades Mitch. I was so generally mesmerised by that first half I should probably watch it again to look at individuals. Dylan Brown does have some form with those simple fumbles, but one thing I recall (from the whole game) was his scramble defence was outstanding.


Isaiah Papali’i was o0n his way to being my future favourite player after the Dragons trial. He’s now guaranteed he’s in the top couple now! Always loved me some Reed!❤️❤️❤️

The rev aka snedden

Next week’s team should be. Gutherson Sivo Waqa Opacic Ferguson Brown Moses Jr Reedy Rcg Papali’i Matterson Brown Bench ———– Smith Marata Oregan Hipgrave. I’m thinking the loss of jenko n the change of side’s has made lane worse. His game last night was very poor. On smith he really needs more game time not sitting on the bench watching for 70 minutes. Even if Reedy is playing great he could have put smith at 5/8 because Dylan didn’t have a great night. I think the storm will target waqa n Ferguson again n we are in for a long… Read more »

Big roy

Storms got a gew we might target to

Colin Hussey

What’s a Gew roy?

Big roy

FEW ,sorry col

Colin Hussey

roy, no probs, was just having some fun a continuation from last night and the 2nd half in particular.

Ps I’ve made worst mistakes than that, and still do.



Shaun Lane. Wow, that was crap. I hope Cartwright is good to go sooner rather than later because his spot is waiting.


Oh man… you made me laugh. 😀


Unfortunately B.A will pick Lane because that’s what B.A does. Seriously though, Lane is an impediment to our team going forward. Waqa and Fergo still seem like strangers in defence. But Hell, we won.

John Eel

He did drop Lane to the bench last year

Colin Hussey

John I think he should go to the bench again against the Storm, although I thought his defense had picked up a bit in the 2nd half. The way he’s playing now and after his benching last year he played well from the bench at that time. If that fails then he should go back to reggies and start again, the sorrow is that he really can play but pretty much looks tired and believes he secure with a contract until 2023. BA should only give him one more chance before dropping him especially with Cartwright not far off a… Read more »


Somebody mentioned here about ‘staying in the fight’ and that’s exactly what it takes to win. You know the old thing about ‘it’s not the dog in the fight it’s the fight in the dog’. This is when all of the hard work at training comes in handy, but you’ve got to build the character of the team first and when things can’t get any worse that’s when that character comes to the fore. Let’s hope that Parra remembers to take that wrap around approach into their future games. Strategy, game play and character.


Good read Mitch and fair grades as agree with most. Papali’i had a great debut and looks to be a great buy for us. Thought Mahoney had a really good game and also agree with what your thoughts are with Lane. I would drop him back to reserves. Opacic I thought was very ordinary and thouht the limited game that Dunster had last season were better and would of played as good as Opacic or even better. Not sold on Hipgrave but he had limited time so will give him the benifit of doubt. Hopefully we improve with the hit… Read more »

Colin Hussey

I would say that Opacic did his job, first hit out with the club so still finding his way a bit. While I like the future with Haze, I would have him on the wing as first up, he did well there in his first game last year. Should he be selected would rather see him on the wing to start, perhaps, with Fergo on his inside, but do we swap the two wingers and their side of the field to cover that? Only option there would be to move Waqau to the 3 spot and fergs from wing for… Read more »


Thought Opacic was pretty solid Laraby, saved our bacon on one or two occasions and looked dependable overall. Hipgrave will grow into the team with more game time.

Big roy

Opacic had a great game , watch again , haze is a winger by the way .

Colin Hussey

In an interview with him, he revealed that he was primarily a centre in his earlier days.

Big roy

Means nothing in juniors col , if your going by that i will name every aus no 9 who started as 7 etc, my STATEMENT is hes a winger !!!!!

Colin Hussey

The question was asked of him based on his experiences in the positions played in, and the interview was last year.

I believe that he has the abilities to play in both wing and centres, but he needs a bit of added muscle/weight going forward.


Oh What a night… I don’t think I have ever been so close to having a heart attack as I was last night. Between screaming AT the “Blakes” in the first half for their inability to work together in defence, to screaming “GO Fergo” as he flirted with the sideline to set up Gutho’s try. But all the negatives started for me when Mitchell overplayed his hand (I am pretty sure it was play 4) in the opening set, which the Broncs gifted to us from the kick off. Instead of playing cool and setting up for another set, that… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Doesn’t seem that long ago that we were chasing Asiata, watched bits of the game again and blowed if I know what happened to him, was down and got up, then dropped down again holding shoulder then neck then arm, hope the hospitalisation of him and the other broncs player turns out ok though.


Reed and Papali’i were really good. After an appalling first half, we showed character and played a lot smarter in the second half. They say the good teams win games despite playing poorly, right? Whereas the Broncos lost despite playing well… that was us not that long ago, and I know which I prefer. I do think giving Waqa Blake the same grade as the two halves is a bit optimistic – they made errors but actively did good things, whereas Blake didn’t; he was just made to look good by Lane. I’d have Niukore in to start for him… Read more »

Big roy

Weakest links in a row , well spotted 👍, actually whole comment spot on , bit of footy nous there 👍


I guess the real positive to take out of Friday’s pretty average performance was that all the newbies went well. Papali was fantastic, Opacic was really solid and I thought Hipgrave had a good first out performance. The ball handling or lack there of is probably a result of being excited about round 1 but it’s hard to find excuses for our defensive woes on the edge again. I said it last year and I will say it again, how is David Kidwell still with the club? Our edges have been a disaster for a couple of seasons now and… Read more »


The Broncos after getting the spoon, controversial offseason and with a new coach who is a club legend were always going to start with a lot of energy. Eels just needed to absorb them, be patient and see them off. Instead, we weren’t patient, gifted them the ball and they almost made us pay.

Brett Allen

I don’t agree with the Shaun Lane assessment. In the 1st half yes, but the 2nd half he was much better I thought. He’s a strange beast, when attacking the opposition red zone he’s an absolute weapon, but otherwise he’s better suited to the middle.

Colin Hussey

Agree re Lane Brett, I would like to see him used off the bench, when that happened last year and he was dropped from the starting line up, he was vg. Not having to play for the full 80 would better suit him. Noticed against the broncs he was spelled would think he could be better used mid point of games.

Big roy

Middle man he is brett ,totally agree your post


As a fan base because of our ability to collect wooden spoons we know the difference between a player trying hard but not being very good and a player not really putting in that extra effort. Big games are often won by that stroke of genius play that catches a lazy marker or defender. I don’t trust Lane anymore, both with and without the ball. Last Friday’s effort was poor and only surpassed by his effort in the final against South’s. I will throw up a left field option to replace Lane this week. We really need a strong defender… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Shelley will be a big test for the whole team against the storm, but for me the biggest test is for Lane and his future would believe the same for a couple of others as well, especially those off contract. On reflection I think Lanes extension was too long and should have only been signed for one year with CO for second. I agree though with Stone being selected in Lanes spot though, especially if Lane fails again. Stone is pretty much a pocket rocket and better suited to the open field instead of constrained at DH. The bench totally… Read more »


Your assessment on Lane was harsh …

… but completely fair.

Papali’i was a monster and such a valuable asset. We now have the same intensity coming off the bench as the starting props.


Geez it’s good to have the footy back! Nice write up as always Mitch, but you forgot to credit Cash Mahoney with a meat pie!

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