Monday 5th April, 2021
Tries: B. Ferguson x 2, T. Opacic x 2, M. Niukore, I. Papali’i, C. Gutherson
Goals: M. Moses 4 from 7 attempts
This was far from the perfect game.
After a terrific start, the match took some interesting twists and turns, and at one stage it looked like the Tigers were in with a chance.
But it was the finish that counted and the Eels ultimately delivered.
There was no guessing about why things didn’t go entirely as planned for the Eels.
Some diabolical handing had Parra supporters burying their heads in their hands, and Brad Arthur ageing just that little bit faster.
But there was a pleasing aspect to a game like this. The Eels are now a team that can find a way to win, even when they aren’t playing at 100%. This must surely leave the competition thinking about the danger the Eels will pose when everything clicks.
Despite the poor handling, the Eels still completed at 81% with 30 completed sets from 37.
Territorially, 50 minutes and 10 seconds of the game was played in the Tigers half, with about half that time in their red zone. This effectively starved the Tigers of quality ball and any pressure they could put on the Blue and Golds. Indeed most of the Tigers tries came from Eels errors
In attack the Eels made 1552 run metres from 169 runs. The Tigers made an extra 4 metres (1556 run metres) on the Eels but also ran nearly 30 more times then the Eels. Parra’s great defence minimised the Tigers attack.
Within these running metres, the Eels made 703 post contact metres, with Fergy Ferg hitting a monumental 101 post contact metres.
Although some might claim he couldn’t catch a cold out there on Monday, the veteran winger is still showing he is an attacking weapon. In total, Ferguson ran 17 times for 192 run metres, which was a team high effort. Throw in his 2 tries, and he has already surpassed his 2020 try tally after 4 rounds.
Notable mentions in attack go to our skipper Clint Gutherson with 168 run metres from 19 runs, and our bookends in RCG and Junior with 138 and 162 run metres respectively. Isaiah Papali’I was not to be denied with 144 run metres from 13 runs and Nathan Brown also contributed 125 run metres (even after being taken out by a late hit in the first half).
So while in attacking mode, I would really like to give as shout out to two of our new recruits. Tom Opacic and Isaiah Papali’I have added so much to the Eels attack in the opening month of footy.
Opacic has cemented his spot in the starting side with some great attacking footy. Averaging 11.3 runs a game at 87.3 running metres, Opacic has been a very sound buy for the Eels. His double try effort on the weekend was a great reward for his first four games with the Eels.
This may be a statistical post but I’m still going to be subjective with this statement – Opacic and Niukore currently form one of the most consistent centre pairings in the NRL.
Let’s now consider Eels new cult hero in Isaiah Papali’i.
I’m pretty sure I have been giving him wraps in every post because of his damaging runs and stinging defence, but I want to reinforce this with some numbers.
Papali’i is averaging 13.3 runs per game and running at 129.5 metres per game. He is also averaging 4 tackle breaks per game. These are outstanding figures. Add in his defensive stats of 33.8 tackles per game with only 1.3 misses, and he is up there as a buy of the year.
Back to team statistics, the Eels made 339 tackles with 31 missed. The missed tackle count would be a bit high in Brad Arthur’s eyes, but in saying that, the Eels scramble and online defence has been exceptional.
Reed Mahoney once again topped the Eels tackle count with 46 tackles (6 misses), and a sublime 40/20 kick.
Shaun Lane had a great game with 42 tackles (4 misses). Isaiah Papali’i complemented his impressive attacking game with 33 tackles (2 misses).
Dylan Brown deserves a huge mention. In his role in the halves he was asked to complete 36 tackles (2 misses). The Tigers did run a lot of their play at him and he stood fast. Well done ‘Dylbags’.
It is great to see we are winning even though we’re not playing great footy.
The Eels are slowly getting into the realm of the Storm and Roosters who have a history of winning ugly footy games.
Yours in Blue and Gold