The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 7 vs Brisbane

Parramatta Eels 46

Brisbane Broncos 6

Evidently the heat soaking humidity only added greater slip to the already elusive surface of the Parramatta Eels. In 30 degree heat and 70% humidity you just knew that whoever wrestled the majority of possession in the first half, would go a long way to setting the platform for a dominant second half against an defence out on his feet.

Indicative of this theory, you’ll remember that with 12 minutes to go in the first half the score was 6-6. Just 25 minutes of game time later and the Eels were up by 30, and that, as they say, was all she wrote.

If nothing else it was good to see the Eels be (relatively) ruthless with a team that troubled the undefeated, table topping Panthers last week and maintain a pretty incredible recent record over an average Brisbane outfit.

The Eels not only managed to avoid an arm wrestle in “anything could happen” conditions, they maintained field position through some smart kicks, held onto the ball with clever options, and exploited a clear weakness in their opposition, running raid after raid to the left corner.

The more this Season goes on, the more professional the Eels are looking; a view that only exaggerates the further back in BA’s tenure you go. It’s good to see us winning games through strategy, rather than finding our way to luckier victories, constructing wins from more than one or two special moments.

The Eels now comfortably sit in 2nd place on the NRL ladder, extending their NRL best streak of consecutive days in the Top 8.

Nothing against the fine people of Darwin, but gees the weather certainly wasn’t ideal for Rugby League.

As an NRL fan, however you slice it, the Broncos were absolutely dreadful tonight, getting absolutely rolled through the middle and cut to pieces on their right edge. In short, anyone wearing Broncos colours not named Payne Haas was straight up poor (not Grading that).

For a bit of historical context, coming into tonight’s game, the Broncos had lost their past 12 games away from home, and it had been 400 days since they had last beaten a team not called the Canterbury Bulldogs. Based on their recent form, as soon as Sivo crossed for his second, you just knew that record would extend for at least another week.

With all of that said, as an Eels fan tonight’s result is actually terrific.

Other than the scoreboard, a number of the game wide stats were surprisingly close. The Eels had 54% of the ball, completed at 80% (Brisbane 76%) and conceded the same number of penalties (4) and scrums (5) as their opposition.

However, the Eels had a huge advantage in metres gained (2395 to 1631), field position (49 mins of the game was played in the Broncos half) and missed tackles (28 to 54). I guess the 11 Eels linebreaks doesn’t really paint a pretty picture for the Broncos, either.

I also loved seeing Cartwright (54), Oregon (38) and Smith (37) all getting some good minutes out there tonight. It’s always good to see a coach adapt his gameplan both to the game and the conditions; hats off to BA for doing just that tonight, too. Said fresh legs evidently enabled the Eels to charge through the Broncos defensive line like BA smashed bottles of water. With the squad all playing so well, it certainly will make for some interesting Team List Tuesdays in the coming weeks as Waqa, Matto, Hipgrave, Ray Stone and Michael Oldfield will all increasingly press their claims for their spot in the 17.

You know I could give it to any number of players, including usual suspects Moses, Gutho, Sivo or Papali’i. Bryce Cartwright also had far and away his best game as an Eel (it’s his third, for the record). But today’s MVP actually goes to Oregon Kaufusi, whose late offload and Johnny-On-The-Spot involvement directly lead to two of the tries that helped break the backs of the Broncos in the first half. It’s actually pretty great to acknowledge all his hard work and efforts to get where he is now; a consistent contributor for one of the NRL’s heavyweights.

Great to see, MVP.

Also, shout out to David Mead’s head for that glorious falcon; also great to see.

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Like the reek of body odour at a Music Festival, Clint Gutherson was in absolutely everything tonight.

As far as the stat sheet goes it was 17 runs, 176 metres, 2 try assists, 2 linebreak assists, 1 try save, 1 tackle break, 1 try, 7 tackles and partridge in a pear tree. His impact on his team? His ability to always be there when required? His much improved passing game? His flowing locks? Priceless.

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

You could tell he really wanted that 3rd try, and he sure deserved it with all those running metres (196m from 14), tackle breaks (a game high 9), linebreaks (5), bombs caught (2) and offloads (1).

For a power running forward disguised as a winger, that’s plenty of movement and effort for the big Fijian, and I think his involvement is one of the most pleasing aspects of tonight’s game for the big guy.

He certainly looked pretty stuffed out there, too; and I for one don’t blame him.

Tom Opacic

3 – Left Centre

Not only was tonight Tom Opacic’s 50th game in the NRL, it was also his revenge game against his former club. The Tommy Gun not only managed to drop a pretty nice four pointer on his ex, he also ran for more than 100m (108), had 2 linebreaks, 1 linebreak assist, 5 tackle breaks, 17 tackles and was usually the first guy there to congratulate Maika Sivo on all of his tries. OPA!

Marata Niukore

4 – Right Centre

You need someone to play middle or edge forward? Marata can.
Do you need a defensive centre? Marata can do that.
Need someone to run through opposition tackles? Marata’s your man.
Need someone to leap for a bomb? Marata can.
Need someone to help you bury a body? Are you crazy? Don’t murder people.
All in all, Marata Niukore is playing terrific football in Season 2021. The man is as cool as the other side of the pillow.

Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing

A sneaky monstrous performance from Fergalicious, getting through 21 carries for 182m, 2 offloads, a linebreak as well as an incredible 8 tackle breaks. Coming into tonight’s game, Blake Ferguson led the NRL with 12 errors, so hats off to him for keeping it that number as is in the greasy Darwinian conditions.

Give me your heart, make it real or else Fergo about it.

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

It wasn’t perfect, and I’d like to see him work a bit more magic with that right edge, but overall I thought tonight was Dylan Brown’s best game of the season so far; 13 runs for 125m, 4 tackle breaks and 24 tackles, none more important than those on Haas and TPJ.

Evidently there was more than one Brown Snake on the loose in Darwin.

Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Last week I questioned whether or not Mitchell Moses would be able to back up his career defining performance against the Raiders with a controlled and similar dominant display.

The answer? Well, yes. Yes he can. It was once again a case of a terrific kicking game (12 for 385m), a controlled passing game, a timely running game (9 for 59m) and the addition of another try assist, linebreak assist and even a try save for his work holding up one Tevita Pangai Jr.

On that note, The Prince of Egypt also did an incredible job to not only stop Jamayne Isaako’s post Eels error linebreak, but then also stop Herbie Farnworth after he was provided the offload; brilliant play from the 7.

Finally, how about that wild kick from Mitchell-san in the 77th minute? Said kick not only sent his Captain over for the final try of the match, it also assured the Broncos of yet another Cobra Kai-esque defeat at the hands of the good guys. Right in the face.


8 – Front Row

Producing yet another solid performance (11 runs, 105m and 24 tackles) I think we can soon enough officially chisel Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s name to the now lengthy stone list of astute purchases made by the Parramatta Eels.

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Despite the greasy conditions, Reed Mahoney was once again very good tonight, nabbing 2 try assists, 2 linebreak assists, 41 tackles and a kick for 57 metres. With that said, it was admittedly a pretty average pass across the front of Blake Ferguson, but even superheroes have off days.

Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

The puny TIO Stadium is simply far too small to contain Junior Paulo’s gargantuan running game. Running around for 50 minutes in the energy sapping Territory humidity, Junior waltzed his way to 106 running metres from his 11 hit ups, adding 3 offloads, 2 tackle busts and 21 tackles.

Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

I see you, Shaun Lane, fulfilling your “missed chance for an early try” quota for the second week in a row, alongside your 11 runs, 74 metres, 1 tackle break and 25 tackles. Not Laney’s best, but certainly not his worst, either.

Little known fact: Shaun Lane once landed one of the lead roles of a Riverside Theatre production of the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. Let’s just say, he wasn’t cast as Jack.

Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Not even a sapping Darwin heatwave could melt the glacial dominance of Ice Papa. An enormous 14 runs for 129m, a linebreak, 5 tackle breaks, and 22 tackles tonight; maintaining his destructive momentum in Blue & Gold.

It’s so obvious that Isaiah Papali’i is the value buy of the season that Steve Roach gave him 2 Dally M points in the Titans Bunnies game.

Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

Again, it’s not like it was a bad game from Nathan Brown (74m from 9 runs, 2 tackle breaks and 23 tackles), it just wasn’t to the standard of the other blokes in Blue & Gold that surrounded him. On one hand, Cyborg played a pivotal role in several Eels shifts, particularly in successful raids to Sivo’s side of the field. On the other, he also took a really poor option to toss the ball back to in the direction of a flat footed Reed Mahoney early in the first half. There’s a little bit of rocks and diamonds about his form at the moment; one could surmise he really needs to sort his future out pretty quickly.

Oregon Kaufusi

14 – Interchange

Tonight was far and away the best game of the season for Big Country, and one of the best of his young career. As I said earlier, not only did he get himself extended minutes in the middle (38), Oregon also ran for a mammoth 136 metres from his 15 carries, runs so hard you could hear the bones of the opposition players squealing with every brutal collision.

Kaufusi also added a linebreak assist, 4 offloads, 2 tackle breaks, 11 tackles and a nice little try to the stat sheet and locked up his first ever Post Game Grades MVP. Hoorah!

Will Smith

15 – Interchange

I once fell into Will Smith’s dreamy eyes and woke up a week later at a bus stop in Bonnyrigg. Stay alert, people.

Wiremu Greig

16 – Interchange

You’d think the Broncos forwards would have been pleased to see Junior, RCG and Cyborg head to the bench mid way through the first half; however, I suspect that relief must have only lasted a moment when boy giant Wiremu Greig entered the fray. Someone call the SES; the former NQ Cowboy is a straight up natural disaster for opposition defences.

As I noted last week, until Wiremu Greig gets a more official Eels profile picture, I will continue to use a photo of Wiremu Tamihana, the man largely responsible for establishing the Maori King movement in the 1850s. You can learn more about him, here.

Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

We always talk about Bryce Cartwright finding the balance between rucking it up and finding his offload opportunities. Tonight, I thought Constanza got it almost perfect, striking a nice balance between his running game (95m from 12 runs), whilst also providing a nice last pass for Sivo’s second try, the Mitch to Gutho movement, and nabbing his first four pointer in the Blue & Gold.

That must be the Bryce Cartwright that BA foresaw when he signed him, and the one Sixties hasn’t shut up about since pre-season. Great to see.

You know, I think that game went really well.

Actually B Robn, we’re now 6-1 in the Northern Territory, mirroring our 2021 Season record. I wouldn’t call that ‘up and down’, at all.

You know, Season 2021 is already much more fun than 2020 ever was.

This week Eels flew into Darwin, waved to the crowd, respected our ANZACs, did what they needed to do by taking care of a weaker side in fine style. Next week we need to do the latter again as we come up against the aforementioned winless Bulldogs.

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

Go you Eels,


Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels. Stats courtesy of Champion Data.

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32 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 7 vs Brisbane

  1. TherealHn

    BA used his bench well, boys digged in well and came out on top nicely. Hopefully another switched on performance against the dogs nxt Sat as the next few weeks after will be tough but the boys are looking good and they need to be if they wanna challenge those panthers come September! Let’s go PARRAAAAA

  2. Trouser Eel

    That was a great game to watch. After our 6th try, I knew we had it in the bag.
    Thanks for getting the grades out nice and quick Mitch. It makes getting up early worthwhile.

  3. Dave

    Knock on from the kick off knew we were in for a good night. Team performed brilliantly together all be it a couple of small hiccups. You must love doing grades on a week like this Mitch, living just outside of Brisbane I loved the result. So proud of the way the whole team played, someone asked the question earlier about waqa coming back in team and I just can’t see it happening

  4. Offside

    I hate to admit it but Cartwright played well hopefully he is able to back it up thats the issue with him his whole career

    1. Mr controversy aka rev

      I was going to call u out offside. Like I’ve said give Cartwright until rd 10. I was thinking of you when Cartwright was on fire lol. Waiting for next weekend vs dog’s. His offloading n charging at the line will scare the dog’s.

      1. Offside

        He should go well against weaker opposition and when the game is opened up its when the going is tough that he has gone missing on more then 1 occasion in his career.

    2. Poppa

      Who knows what a whole career will bring Offie.
      I said at the beginning that I wasn’t excited about his signing but I took note of 60’s comments and wished him well.
      I feel that he was very badly and unfairly received on here and other sites. Mitch I even made of pointing out same,a natural bias. I now cannot believe I have another favourite player to my list….I am a sucker for the underdog and pleased to be so.
      Lets hope we don’t start looking for bad games to make us feel justified …..A

  5. Big Derek

    The grades show the depth of the squad, that’s remembering that the Broncos ran the Riff lose last week until the last 5 minutes.

    The biggest club issue now is how to retain the players off contact to maintain the progress that’s been made over the past 3/4 years. Even Fergo is now playing at a level that indicates at least one more season, Matterson, NBrown and Moses are even more important. Then Will Smith, Cartwright, and others.

    So the line trotted out by Roosters, Storm that players stay for less in a club with a good culture, a coach they like, and a winning team will be tested. Possibly helps with the odd golf game etc.. Over the you Mark ONeil.

  6. BDon

    Tks Mitch, Shaun Lane made less errors than Reed Mahoney, glass half full. Oregon Kaufusi’s game is growing by the week, both confidence and competence on display. Well done to him, shades of Marata’s progress. Dylan Browns defence goes under the radar a bit, but boy he’s good at it.

    1. Colin Hussey

      I had another watch of the game today, & tried to focuse a bit on Lane given the pummelling he has copped by eels supporters, & I for one am dumbfounded by the amount of criticism he receives. Is it becaused of his height and looks like a skinned giraffe on two legs or what?

      Certainly his height makes him very obvious to see, but gee how many minutes did he play against the broncs? I don’t think he had a rest at any stage except when he was up from a tackle or on some of his runs, he got the ball away enough for others to make ground, his worst was the shocker pass to Dylan on his left side after just getting the ball.

      He along with Papa, & Reed were the only forwards to play the full match, at least in what I saw. He may not be the greatest player going around, has some small areas with his ball handling, but I saw him playing on both sides of the forwards, in both defense and attack.

      I don’t believe his work is anywhere near as bad as some make him out to be.

      1. Poppa

        His defensive recovery is very poor from the ruck Colin, many times he is trotting back in defense after completing a tackle, when he does this he turns his back in defense and I scream at the screen to concentrate Shaune. He seems to have a lot of time to unload but rarely releases it. I think his position now is a middle forward on the bench and eventually he will be pushed out of the 17 if overall fitness allows same. Just saying!

        1. Colin Hussey

          And none of the other players turn their backs after making a tackle as they get back on side?

          From what I have seen, he usually after his tackling watches the play and sees where its heading, if the ball is played and heads away from where he is, he generaly also watches the way the play is going.

          He is pretty much a laconic type of person and player Pops, and could do worse than him, if he was that bad doubt the club would have signed him to a new contract.

  7. Goodnight Gimbob

    Good job miatch. Only don’t put too much emphasis on stats as people like Brown were rested for long periods miatch.
    Watch them alligators miatch

  8. Prometheus

    Good to see the boys stay steady and go on with it in testing conditions. Thought both wingers were tremendous and Dylan and Oregon are coming on strongly. What’s with David Kidwells glasses ? He looks like a Japanese admiral in Tora Tora Tora !

  9. Eggman

    I was thinking early, why are we just going through the motions and not throwing it around like Broncos were? Then I realised, Wow we are literally just going through the motions which was obviously the game plan.Hard ,relentless,clinical motions which just wore Brisbane down in difficult conditions . Channel 9 gave Sivo MOM honours which would have been a difficult award to choose as everyone played well,Sivo however found another gear with his running game and seemed almost Semi like ,he mentioned on air that BA challenged him to step up and and he really did, hope he stays in Beast mode for the season because it was beautiful to watch.

    1. Rob

      Can’t agree more, “Beast mode” from Sivo is poetry in motion. So beautiful to watch as a Parra fan. He was absolutely brutal.

      1. Mr controversy aka rev

        Should have scored 4 if he ran a little faster after running thru the middle of the Broncos pack

    2. Poppa

      Yes eggie, he was actually listening to me, he loves making me look wrong as I was ready to say he had hit a peak and wasn’t getting better. Then he pulled that fend out and started swatting them like flies. Where has he been hiding that fend.
      Consistency is now the word we have to start judging Maiko buy.

  10. Dday

    Good write up Mitch and agree the eels were very slippery in tropical NT. 4 x As is about right. I was a bit torn for MVP – Cartwright’s effort was very influential but always nice to share it around and it was kaufusi’s best NRL game.
    Three things that caught my attention; BAs intelligent use of bench, how good the bench was and that the team executed the effective tactic of continuing to attack the left edge.
    Love banking 2 points early in the weekend and watching the balance of the NRL not caring. Go the Eel.

  11. Mr controversy aka rev

    I think tommy opacic had a great game. If only he was faster he could of gone coast 2 coast. I think he needs a B+.

    I’m liking what these cheap buys are doing. Playing very well. Another great team performance. Well done BA n the team. Bring on the Bulldogs.

  12. Murph

    As others have said, most pleasing aspect for me was the use of the bench. I’d been starting to worry that only using 15 players in a meaningful way each week would be detrimental long term for RCG, Junior and Brown. Hot conditions probably forced BAs hand last night, along with weak opposition. Presume he’ll do similar against the Dogs next week assuming the game goes to script. Will be interesting to see how he deploys the bench the following week against the Roosters.

    1. Mr controversy aka rev

      Murph it will be a straight swap matterson in for smith an all forwards bench.
      My only problem will be when Waqa comes back someone has to miss out. Marata will be pushed to the bench so Waqa can play centre.

  13. Paul

    Many positives highlighted in the article and echoed in the comments. The Good Ship Eels is steaming along for now….

    But I thought your parting comment about Nathan Brown needing to sort his future quickly was poignant. Interesting to see how that subplot plays out…

    Thanks for article 👍

  14. Milo

    V good win in tough conditions = that said our retention could be a favour of hindering to our team this year. Moses is a must imo.
    Good write up and grades Mitch

  15. greg okladnikov

    Strong win – putting away a weaker time by grinding them out of the game was good to see. I have been impressed by Wiremu – a lot of impact off the bench for a young player – will really help the rotation with Junior and RCG.

    Looking at our bench – and the players not playing – we do have a lot of depth – not sure how BA fits them all in …especially if we keep winning. Of the players currently not in last weeks 17 – I can see a spot for Matterson – not sure how any of the others fit in

    1. Mr controversy aka rev

      I’m expecting the same vs the dog’s. I think we will grind them down.then roll over the top as soon as their middle men are tired.

  16. Jimmy Corbo

    Nice work Mitch, you missed your calling, I always enjoy the witty comedy in your writing, you be should be writing for Saturday Night Live.

    I really resonated with your comment on Twitter regarding our bench rotation, it was important in this game due to the conditions but critical for the season. When we dominated early last year, we had games with RCG playing 80 minutes and Paulo big minutes, I think that was a factor late in the season as the grind took hold. The signing of Greig was specifically targeted and I would suggest to counter a hard learned lesson from last year. The rise of Kaufusi has also been a factor, he is becoming the player we hoped.

    Kudos to Opacic, he does his job, quiet achiever, makes his tackles and feeds Sivo good ball. If Cartwright can continue on this path, he might be an X Factor when finals footy comes around and you need to find a little more to win.

    One thing I really like about our game over the last two-three years is our first set after points. It would give me heart palpations in previous years, it was odds on we would come up with an error or a bad kick if we managed to get to tackle 5.

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