The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 2 vs Melbourne

 

Parramatta_Eels_logo.svg  Parramatta Eels 16

  Melbourne Storm 12

 

The Good:

Over zealous light shows, noisy folks in Blue & Gold, and stadium seating so steep you should really be in a harness; it was very good to be back at Bankwest Stadium this evening.

Yet, in the midst of monsoonal downpour, it was Parramatta who flipped the script and brought the meteorological energy down on the Storm, answering almost every question the defending Premiers could throw at them.

I don’t remember the last time our Eels were able to stay in a contest like this, ending up going on to legitimately beat a contender. There’s been a lot of “firsts in a while” in the last two or three seasons, but this is the sort of one of those mental bookmark games we’ll think back on in a couple of months, the sort of wins we should be most excited about.

I mean, I know they were down Harry Grant tonight, but when was the last time Parramatta beat the Melbourne Storm at full strength? Whenever it was, it’s certainly been a while, my friends.

Then again, we do have a 100% winning record against the Storm at Bankwest.

As for tonight, we ran through the middle, our defence was steadfast, and I thought our kicking game got better as the game wore on.

We can do flashy, we can show flair, but tonight we showed grit and determination, a toughness and a solid defensive effort not often associated with the Parramatta Eels.

And you know something? It feels good.

Finally, with a history of mixing about as well as oil and water, tonight is yet another piece of evidence that if you remove either Waqa or Fergo from that right edge, it really does go a long way to shoring up their defensive woes. I mean, who would have thought?

The Bad:

Well, for starters, the weather wasn’t great.

Also, watching “Eels junior” Ryan Papenhuyzen play well against the Eels is like when your ex starts going to the gym to make you feel like you made a mistake but it’s not going to work Jessica I don’t miss you even though your new haircut looks great.

I don’t want to pick apart a win too much (I will take a win in the wet against the determined and tough Melbourne Storm every day of the week), but I thought we missed a few opportunities tonight to kick early in the count tonight, and turn Melbourne’s defensive intensity into some good field position in the wet. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

On a more serious note, here’s hoping the respective injuries to Waqa and Matto don’t keep them sidelined for long, we need them in the team, but more importantly we just want them to be right.

The X-Factor:

So, did PVL make another unannounced rule change just before kick off that means refs will now allow all forward passes? I am very reluctant to blame the refs for losses (or for wins, for that matter, as the case may be), but I reckon you could make a case that there were at least 5 Melbourne Storm passes not called forward, and the one they did call was the least forward of all of them.

If you even glanced at the game tonight, you would know that statistics don’t always tell the tale of a game, and despite the horrendous conditions, watching this ferocious game live made me want to check under my bed for monsters.

Tonight the Eels ended up with 47% of possession (43% in the first half) and a better completion rate (88 to 81%), but still ran less metres (2436 to 2547) and completed less sets (35 to 38) than their more fancied counterparts.

The Eels did kick for 937m to the Storm’s 732m, a stat underrated for its importance in determining the outcome of a game, I’m told.

Hats off to both teams for some very entertaining footy in the middle of a Parramatta typhoon.

The MVP:

Reed Mahoney was once again brilliant, and has never had a better two game stretch in his life. Clint Gutherson was incredible, Junior Paulo wonderful, Mitchell Moses electric, Marata Niukore’s performance in the centres defied all Rugby League convention.

However, I nonetheless left Bankwest Stadium tonight with one stark impression – I simply cannot believe that Maika Sivo is the same species as me. Chalk him up with not only the 2 tries, but 17 hard fought runs in the wet, 164 metres, a line break and 6 tackle breaks. It could give it to any of the above players (in fact I suspect many will give it again to Reed), but I like to spread the wealth around from time to time, and it’s not often you get to win the game for your team as the big Fijian did tonight. So you the MVP, Maika. You the MVP.

 

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Clint Gutherson is an unnatural and unstoppable force of nature. I mean, how many tries did you save today?
 

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

You could imagine poor old George Jennings would have mentally, physically and emotionally prepared himself all week to tackle the bulldozing colossus that is Bankwest Sivo. Instead Maika goes all Luftwaffe on poor old George, dropping from the sky like a monsoonal downpour of Fijian muscle; a big mass of rock fired from some sort of medieval catapult to the tune of two tries and a wake of destruction.

I could go on … and I will.

Speaking of By George, I feel I need to point out that many, many a time have I seen his forlorn figure shrink into the background of a highlight clip, his despairing face sink into the turf as his opposing winger broke away and scored yet another four pointer.

Yet tonight, after many years of frustration, Gennings’ figure was instead wrapped in a Melbourne jersey, and it was his former teammate Maika Sivo scoring the matchwinner. My friends, that is what ze Germans call ‘schadenfreude’.

 

Tom Opacic

3 – Left Centre

There was very little wrong with his 13 runs, 94 metres, 2 offloads, a tackle break and 19 tackles from Tom Opacic tonight. Now that we’ve won, and despite the fact that it clearly didn’t turn out as good as it could have, I still sort of enjoyed the dummy and run play he put on with 20 to go. Overall, Tommo had another solid outing tonight in his second game for the team he supported as a youngster.
With that said, stand behind the plane of the 40 if you’re going to touch a kick off, will you?
 

Marata Niukore

17 – Right Centre

Waqa who? In his first appearance of 2021, Marata Niukore found himself lining up at right centre, inside the wacky rhythms of Blake Ferguson’s defensive decisions. To be quite frank, he was brilliant. Whether it was crashing through the defensive line (13 runs for 116m, 6 tackle breaks), or destroying his opposite man’s will to live in defence (23 tackles), Marata did more than enough as a substitute centre, maybe even better than a full strength Waqa Fergo would have been.
In fact, let’s face it, he was and probably was the best centre out there tonight for either side.
 

Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing 

There’s a bit of agro returning in Fergo’s runs in 2021 (20 for 114m, 2 tackle breaks), and hats off to him for always putting up his hand for those tough carries. It’s good to see the try drought won’t be hanging over his head again, and he does seem much more comfortable in his shoes, which is good to see. I should note that the stats will show a game high 4 errors next to his name, but one of those stopped a pretty significant Storm overlap.

Then again, a quick note to Clint Gutherson: If Blake Ferguson ever asks you to send a decision upstairs; don’t.

 

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Solid defence (37 tackles, 3 misses), and a crisp running game (9 for 56m) is what we’ve come to expect from Dylbags, and I thought the kick for Sivo’s first four pointer was pretty special.
I still think there’s a bit of work to do with his in game kicks, as many still end up a bit in no-man’s land (not low enough to find the grass, not high enough to allow the chasers to arrive), but he’s certainly enjoying his footy; it’s still so easy to forget the kid is still only 21.
 

Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

It’s far from a finished product, but for the last 120 minutes or so of Season 2021, Mitch Moses has looked pretty darn good. I hope the upward trajectory continues, because Moey seems to look better with every passing minute of Season 2021. It was particularly pleasing to see him have 9 darts (60m) and 4 tackle breaks, and 561m off the boot is more than a fair effort, particularly when considering the conditions.

So it’s a rain soaked game, tied up at 12 a piece with 4 minutes to go, but you don’t take a shot at field goal?

“Nah, I’ll just win it with a mid field skyscraper of a bomb from 40m out.”

 

RCG

8 – Front Row 

Remember that time RCG trampled Cameron Munster? It was just one of his 17 runs, some of his 154m, and one of his 3 tackle breaks. Our win tonight was built not just on the kicks of Moses, or the leaps of Sivo. It wasn’t just built on a defensive wall, or clever coaching in wet conditions. More than most things it was built on the foundations of a constant stream of willing bodies running straight into the teeth of the Storm defence; and for that I salute both RCG and Junior Paulo in particular.
 

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

My favourite Reed Mahoney moment tonight was not the crisp service from dummy half (108 passes), or the linebreak and try assist he put on. It wasn’t even the 59 tackles or tackle break, or his 6 scurries for 48 metres.
No, my favourite moment from the nuggetty rake was actually a fatigued kick for touch with 10 to go, finding the line and allowing the Eels defensive line to gear up and go again at the relentless Storm. For all these moments, and for the second week in a row, Reed gets a perfect score in my books.
 

Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row 

Not only is this gigantic human churning through the metres (12 runs, 91m), breaking tackles (4) and eating opposition forwards for breakfast (32 tackles), the big fella also found time tonight for a sneaky big boy linebreak and an offload. Junior Paulo also now sits atop of the Eels try scoring ladder, setting a PB for tries scored in a season in game 2 of 2021. How good!

To finish, here’s a great photo of three dudes, all responding to Junior’s four pointer in their own special way.

 

Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

So last week I said some things.
I don’t regret those things, but Shaun Lane doesn’t deserve me saying those same things this week; so that’s something.
By the end of the game Penny Lane looked like a bandaged bear, held together only by a couple of rolls of strapping tape. His lanky corpse nonetheless managed to pull together 12 runs for an impressive 102m, an offload and 41 tackles and NO ERRORS. I mean, sure I’d still like to see him a little more active in defence, particularly recovering from marker, but we’re taking baby steps here, don’t be so hasty …
 

Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

More than anything, I just hope Ryan Matterson is ok. Having a history of concussions I think it is incredibly unlikely we’ll see Matto next week, but I nonetheless hope it still somehow turns out much better than it looked.

Stats be damned, but I’ll be very interested to see what Graham Annesley has to say about that moment, as I cannot understand why Felise Kaufusi wasn’t sitting down for 10 minutes after elbowing his opposite number in the face.

 

Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

Despite the ongoing contract chatter (as if you would leave this), it was good to once again see Nathan Brown unleash fresh hell on every opposition player in his path. Cyborg scattered Storm players to the tune of 16 runs for 135m, 1 offload, 1 tackle break and 40 tackles. The game high 7 misses are a bit of a stain on an otherwise terrific wet weather game of football.
 

Oregon Kaufusi

14 – Interchange 

After watching their impact live, I was a little surprised to see the limited numbers from all four members of the bench. Then again, a lot of our sets involved our forwards getting smashed inside our 30, so in many ways it also makes plenty of sense.
In short, Oregon was once again very solid.
 

Isaiah Papali’i

15 – Interchange 

After last week’s triumphant debut in the Blue & Gold against the Broncos, I wrote and dedicated several love songs to the man I have affectionally dubbed ‘Ice Papa’.

If he maintains this level of play for the next couple of games, I might have to leave my wife; I mean it’s really getting out of hand.

 

Will Smith

16 – Interchange 

I really enjoy the energy boost we receive when Will Smith takes the field, I just wish we got a little bit more of it. With that said, I believe his entrance to the game was Paulo and Nathan Brown off, Smith and Hipgrave on; so BA really let his hair down tonight, so to speak.
Finally, can the record also show that I was unreasonably annoyed that the utility player on our bench was not named in the 14 jersey.
 

Keegan Hipgrave

18 – Interchange 

So far I haven’t hated anything Keegan Hipgrave has done in an Eels jersey, so he is dramatically exceeding my expectations. Keep up the good work, young man.

This guy gets it.

A shout out to the many good folk who turned out to see and hear the live recording of The Cumberland Throw podcast at Parra Leagues this evening, and to special guests Mary K, Joey Grima and Eels legend Brett Kenny! Hats off to both Sixties and Forty who continue to do such a brilliant job behind their respective mikes.

Next Saturday night we’re back at Bankwest against another tough and determined side, the ever aggressive Cronulla Sharks.

At least until then, enjoy that sweet, sweet undefeated feeling.

Whatever happens, I’ll see you then, sports fans.

Go you Eels,

Mitch

Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels. Stats courtesy of the legends over at Champion Data.

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Trouser Eel

Great game, great reviews.
Watching from the stands, it was horrendous to see that officiating and amazing to see the fitness difference. Our boys won that game with persistence.

Anonymous

I already said it before the season start.watch maika goes this year .he’s lean and fit with the same weight he had when he was at penrith.105 kilo but full of pure Fijian meat.well done sixties for the report .well done boys

JonBoy

Hey Anon…are you actually Maika Sivo

Anonymous

No I’m his family member

Jpe Briffa

Mitch i will not start about the ref except to say he should stick to making under pants boy oh boy, it was great to be with some of my old mates at the club and to see the guests that both Craig and John had on for the podcast. MARY was by far the best looking of all of them, there was a good turn up, the game was special and my throat is still sore. See you next week

Clive

Nice work with the post game grades mate and what a game of footy. Can I make a suggestion for the grades moving forward? When you grade the players in future could you grade the performance of the Leagues club car park as well? Last night it performed at an F. The family and I sat in the car without moving an inch for 45min. It’s an absolute disaster that you have to pay $30 for. Forgive my rant😂 The team was outstanding last night and their desperation in defence was incredible. There’s not much point me going into individual… Read more »

!0 Year Member

Clive, this must have been the first game you have attended. Even with only 10k fans, most of us trek towards the station and public transport this clogging up the exit from the car park. There were messages on the TV screens stating to not expect to get out of the car park till about 30 min after full time. If there are more people at the game, I would expect waiting a bit more….unless the stadium staff start kicking you out.

Clive

G’day mate
It’s only the second game I have attended since the stadium rebuild. I was a longtime season ticket holder until then but I’m not getting to as many games these days.
One thing is for sure I won’t be parking in the car park any time soon.

Brett Allen

Clive, I know the weather would’ve made it unbearable, but might I suggest public transport. It’s the only time I use PT, is for going to see live sport.

John Eel

Last night I sat on Strathfield station from 11:00pm to 12:30am waiting for a train to the Central Coast.

The night was made more bearable by the Eels hooligans displaying their displeasure at the train cancellations.

Got home at 2:30. Still got to the coffee shop by 9:00 to exercise my bragging rights.

Wilhelmina

I’ve taken to driving down from the Coast John, partly covid but mostly cos I hate sitting at Strathfield – it’s always freezing, there’s nowhere inside or comfortable, and the times never seem to work. It’s a miserable train home after a loss, but made bearable by a win!

Shaun

That was more than worth getting soaked going to as well as leaving the game (tip: don’t stand near a road where there is big puddle and a bus coming). Sivo’s second try was astounding and once the initial excitement wore off, everyone around me had this happily bewildered grin. One of the best wins in recent years and trying not to get too excited this early in the season.

BDon

Mitch, I thought I’d wake up to A’s all round, but I like the idea of making me think about that game again eg Nathan Brown was so good but I missed his misses…I can only think big Nelson ran at him as well as Reed.And that was the metaphor of the night, the colossus battered to the sheds. And could the refs start looking at Christian Welch’s method of standing up from a tackle by always pushing the opponent down one last time.

Jimbob

I don’t know why miatch didn’t get an a+. I mean Guthrie

Jimmy Corbo

Now that was a great game of footy, we took on the big dog in their condtions and we stood our ground and won. I must admit with 15 to go I thought “I have seen this movie many times”, and we always end up with the loss. I said last year during our great run of form that in three big clashes that we won v Raiders, Manly and Penrith, we were well beaten in the final 20 minutes of those games and all but fell over the line. It proved to be a pre-cursor to the finals in… Read more »

Wilhelmina

It’s not like the crowd weren’t alerting them to the forward passes either Jimmy! They got a good Bronx cheer when they finally called one. I had the MMM radio commentary going, and they were prevaricating over “only a little bit forward”… too much conditioning from Cam Smith that that’s ok!

Jimmy Corbo

The crowd, the players, MMM, Fox League, everybody saw them execept the linesman and ref…..LOL

Big Derek

Thank goodness there is not a grading for ref Klein and the touchies, they stand in line and miss obvious forward passes – not 1 , not 2 but plenty. Welch stood offside and made tackles from offside consistently and Klein just waved play on. As most around me asked why the Storm get reffed differently to almost every other team, and it’s so obvious under certain officials. Let’s see what excuse Annesley can come up with for the non sin bin on Kaufusi, pretty sure that was introduced to stop these incidents. Again Klein waved his arms around and… Read more »

Longfin Eel

I’m glad the game was at Bankwest and not Parramatta Stadium! We were nice and dry last night, but would have been soaked to the skin at the old ground. Also love that the bus stops right outside the stadium, so why bother driving? It was great to see the whole team put in a great 80min performance, which is something we have not seen for a long time. Just hope we can ride the ups and downs of the season and be in top form at the pointy end. This game will go a long way to giving Parra… Read more »

!0 Year Member

Thanks MItch, my most favorite article on TCT, although Gol has gone another level with the match previews this year, I have to re-read most paragraphs as so much quality is compressed into them and the dry humor is superb. To the GOOD I will add, the 10k die hards that showed up To the BAD I will add, not closing off the main road like the usually do, quite a few people stepped out onto the road and there were many a near miss. Having a death of a supporter in those circumstances would be more than a tragedy.… Read more »

Trapped in the 1970's

The only grade I’d differ on is for Matterson. I thought he was having an excellent game, better than B- until forced off from that deliberate foul act. His consistent hard hits in defense were amazing. Last week I was concerned with what seemed like another occasion when the eels weren’t up for a match. This week they were up and above expectations and I thought it was their most complete 80 minutes since they beat the Titans very early on last year. Last night of course surpasses that effort given the quality of the opposition alone. I hope last night… Read more »

!0 Year Member

Agree. That elbow slamming down the head in the turf is not on. Ray Price was interviewed by Vossy on SEN1170am on Thursday morning and stated whilst yes he played hard, the man in the middle has to take care of the players otherwise they will keep getting brain damage like him. That this guy did not even get 10 min was disgusting. If he gets off, then we know all this talk about protecting the head is just that, talk. Matto will most likely be out for a number of weeks and so he should. That was just a… Read more »

parrathruandthru

on 2 occasions when the storm had the scrum feed Klien hurried them up to get in position to pack the scrum when they were wandering around like lost sheep. On both occasions he called the scrum clock off with 2 seconds to go even though they hadnt packed. Thats not his job to coach them and it should have been a penalty to us. No way he would do that for us. I have sports ears

Anthony

The way that Marata played, how much of a stretch would it be if Ryan Matterson, or Bryce Cartwright on his return, were to play centre with Marata playing as an edge forward on the same side. That would help Fergo in defence and absolutely scare the crap out of opposition backlines.

Prometheus

Last season I suggested that Marata if used as an edge forward could be our version of Kikau from penrith. After last night l’m convinced of it.

Jpe Briffa

Agree he is a beauty, he would slot in anywhere

Ken 70,

Great win by the boys , question can Tim lafi be up graded before next week

sixties

We have the places, it’s whether we decide to or not.

Brett Alken

The big question is therefore “ Have we turned the corner, or still too soon to tell ?”

John Eel

I believe there has been signs of this happening for some time. The players know what is required but keep slipping back to the shortcuts.

The media and some fans though have focused on the negatives without seeing the challenge that BA is setting the players

For 2 years he has asked them to be resolute in defence and patient in attack. Last night that is exactly what he got.

sixties

100% John.

Greg Okladnikov

Great grades tonight – and congratulations on the podcast. Outstanding. And to get a legend on is great recognition for what the TCT is doing. I thought it was the best “tough” performance in a long time – the work of Gutherson in putting his body on the line, Marata was awesome, and everyone did some hard stuff – hitups, kick chase, scrambling defenall the 1%ers as they say I think many Eels fans were holding their breath at 12-12 with 7 to go, and then after the penalty with 90 seconds to go ….feeling like “here we go again”.… Read more »

sixties

Thanks Greg. It was an honour to have Bert on the show.
Though it’s early in the season, the fact that the Eels were their most resolute, and the most composed at the end of the last two games, says something about the growth in the team. The next step is to become more consistent in delivering such performances

Offside

Can’t disagree with the ratings. Everyone really dug deep.
I’m not BAs biggest fan but the descion to play marata at centre was bold but great im sure if it was a dry track he may of put dunster in but it was smart move so credit where credit is due.
Big games from the pack Lane was better but his shortcomings in defence are very obvious its a worry

Anonymous

Nathan Cayless played him at center for Wenty!

Dday

Love schadenfreude my friend as much as I love a win over the storm!!

Anonymous

Gents, its a real concern that neither of our halves rate an A, Dylan Brown needs to rise to the hype that was once around him, and Mitch, was solid tonight but, he is not a game managing half back. Can we win the comp with these halves, is my question to you sixties

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