The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 8 at Canterbury

Parramatta Eels 32

Canterbury Bulldogs 10

The Eels got in and got out with a 22 point victory against the Dogs, who had been priding themselves on being a little bit of a bogey team for Parra. Despite a couple of nervous moments, tonight’s victory effectively avoided the more typical, grind it out, down and dirty, stick your face in the mud games we’ve seen featured against the Blue & Whites in recent seasons.

We also now sit with a 7-1 record and regain our rightful 2nd spot on the NRL ladder, behind the unstoppable Penrith Panthers, a team yet to taste defeat this season, and who have won 25 of their last 26 (the loss was of course, last year’s Grand Final – ouch).

First and foremost, the Nathan Brown injury is a huge blow to the Eels; but the news that he might only be out for 2-4 weeks (thanks to Twitter legend, NRL Physio) is almost enough of a relief to put this in The Good.

The Eels were pretty sloppy in attack tonight, not so much in shape as they were in ball handling; a total of 15 errors is pretty average stuff, particularly considering they only had 12 errors in the hyper humid Darwinian conditions of Round 7.

In other news, the NRL world saw Trent Barrett shed a tear after his first win of the season last week, but I bet he shed a few more watching Luke Thompson‘s defence in the middle; first missing Reed for Gutho’s first, then an absolutely paltry attempt for The King’s second. He is one of the Dogs’ best in the middle with ball in hand, but those were some of his lower moments tonight.

In the stats department, Gutho, Moses and Reed had six try assists between them last week against the Broncos (adding another 2 tonight), whereas coming into tonight’s clash the Bulldogs 1, 7 and 9 had six between them all season. I don’t want to sound harsh or high and mighty, but I reckon BA will be pretty filthy the Eels let those two tries in.

Despite having periods of absolute dominance in possession (at one stage late in the first half the Eels were enjoying 70% of the ball; the Dogs didn’t get tackled in their attacking 20 until the final quarter of the game), the Eels ended up with a mere 52% of possession overall (it was 50/50 in the second half).

The Eels also had advantages in field position (48 minutes of the game in the Dogs’ half), running metres (2477 to 2005), tackle breaks (33 to 19); but fell behind in completion rates (72% to the Dogs’ 75%), penalties (3 to 5) and errors (15 to 11).

Who else?

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Imagine running 20 times for 250m, scoring 2 tries (his career 50th and 51st, for that matter), having a linebreak, 2 linebreak assists, a try assist, making 6 tackle breaks and getting all that done in only 72 minutes.

I know I can’t.

Then again, I wouldn’t even be able to stand still on an NRL field for 72 minutes.

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Some wingers run with grace, gliding their way up the field like gazelles. Think Daniel Tupou, Jason Saab, even Waqa Blake when he finds space.

Maika Sivo is not one of those wingers. As far as wingers go, he is a dump truck. A tank. A bulldozer loose on a football field. This was very much on show when he somehow barged his way over despite the attention of 5 Bulldogs.

Tonight the Fijian Scud Missle had a couple of tries, ran 13 times for 120 metres, and also had 2 linebreaks, 4 tackle breaks and 4 tackles.

Trivia – With tonight’s first four pointer, Maika now has scored at least one try against all NRL teams (with the exception of the Parramatta Eels). Pretty handy for a bloke who’s only been playing for two and a bit years.

Tom Opacic

3 – Left Centre

Another sneaky good game from old Thomas Opacic, getting through 12 runs for 108 metres, 5 tackle breaks, 1 offload and 18 tackles. To be honest, I have never seen any need for us to spend so much money on the centre position (for example, by signing Kotoni Staggs). Opa is admittedly not on the same level, but in my opinion much better value and allows the Eels to spend their cap space on more important positions (like upgrading Ice Papa, Mitch et al.). The man runs a good line and defends really well; and I think that’s what the modern salary capped game requires from centres.

Marata Niukore

4 – Right Centre

Remember that time Marata absolutely monstered Corey Allan back into the Dogs’ in-goal in the first half?

When your boy kills a guy, then goes on and scores a try, that’s Niukore.

Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing

In recent weeks, Blake Ferguson has almost been worth the price of admission alone, whether you were an Eels or opposition fan. Good or bad, things happen around him, whether a scintillating try or absolute disastrous drop. So in some respects it was nice to see Fergo finish tonight’s game with a relatively bland (read: solid, but unexciting) 17 runs for 169m, 2 tackle breaks and 4 tackles.

Also, how about the head on the bloke?

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

The stats were still there (7 runs for 88m, 1 linebreak, 1 linebreak assist, 1 try assist, 29 tackles, but 3 errors), but I must say it was strange to see one of the best defensive halves in the NRL miss a tackle in the 49th minute in the manner that he did; with Dylan being caught out turning his shoulders to the outside. This momentary lapse allowed Jake Averillo to slip past him and run away to score the Dogs’ first.

The young bloke is in a bit of a rut in 2021; which is also strange to say as I think as a team the Eels look just about as good as they have looked at any point since 2009.

I’m sure the switch will flick soon enough.

Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

What contract situation? Although it’s not finalised just yet, soon the Eels will apparently announce Mitchell Moses has extended for either 3 or 4 more years in Blue & Gold; a wonderful signing for one of the pillars of the club’s success. Tonight was yet another controlled performance from the Prince of Egypt, a statement true of all 7 of our victories in 2021. In particular, Mitch demonstrated a kicking game you could set your watch to (16 kicks for 529m). With that said, I suspect it probably helped that the Dogs almost refused to pressure him once Dylan Napa almost broke his legs.


8 – Front Row

I know he’s an emotional guy, but starting the game with a different front row partner didn’t seem to phase RCG, still getting through a very solid 13 runs, 155m, with 2 tackle breaks and 30 tackles.

Mo, Mo, Mo your boat.

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Whether you’re watching him kick for touch, scoot out of dummy half or pass from the ruck; you cannot deny that Reed Mahoney is in career best form.

Oregon Kaufusi

14 – Front Row

Well, well, well; look who finds himself in the starting lineup – he’s my mate, he’s your big cuddly companion – Oregon Kaufusi. And it was great to see him not only out there, but relishing the opportunity with 14 runs for 118m, an offload, 1 tackle break and 19 tackles.

Ryan Matterson

15 – Second Row

It was a very welcome sight to see Matto get through 13 runs, 114m, an offload, 1 tackle break and 39 tackles tonight in his return from a concussion suffered in Round 2. He also seemed in very good spirits in his pre-game interview.

Welcome back, mate.

Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Looking more and more like a man who spends his night sleeping under a bridge, Isaiah Papali’i’s facial growth is as dominant as his footballing performances. Against the old foe Ice Papa went for another 18 runs, another 177m, 3 offloads, 1 linebreak assist, 1 try assist, 4 tackle breaks and 45 tackles.

Wait, what do you mean he didn’t score a try?

Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

We feared it was his achilles, or even the dreaded ACL; thankfully Browny only has a case of the hippy hippy shakes. Hopefully see you back on the field in 2-4 weeks, champ.

Junior Paulo

10 – Interchange

Coming off the (reinforced) bench, big Junior Paulo barely broke a sweat getting through 12 runs for 111m, 19 tackles and I don’t know what to do with my hands.

Shaun Lane

11 – Interchange

Shaun Lane came off the bench tonight to concede a penalty, drop a ball and get smashed by Ava Seumanafagai; almost nabbing 9 runs for 95 metres and a tackle break in 42 minutes.

Right now, it is quiet in a darkened ANZ Stadium. But if you look closely, by the light of the moon, you can still see the tall, slender figure of Shaun Lane, out wandering the field, searching for the remains of his rib cage.

With that haircut starting to grow out a little, I can’t decide whether he looks like a criminal or a like a 52 year old retired cop named Kurt. Let me know in the comments below.

Haze Dunster

16 – Interchange

Nabbing 12 minutes, tonight Haze Dunster played his second ever game of NRL and had 4 runs for 39 metres. He was also asked to make one tackle. Despite some shaky defensive form in NSW Cup in recent weeks, I can’t imagine he lost any admirers tonight.

Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

For the second week in a row, Bryce had what English speaking French would call “a very good game”.

Costanza is apparently getting the memo, getting through 5 runs for 48m, but more importantly making 24 tackles without a miss, whilst also nabbing 2 try assists and a linebreak assist.

Next week, the Eels turn the pressure cooker right back up to ten as we face the high-flying Sydney Roosters at Bankwest Stadium. Last time we faced the Chooks at home, James Tedesco was given an all expenses paid trip to la-la land by Maika Sivo’s upper body, but alas we still came away without the chocolates.

The Blue & Gold will no doubt be hoping for a different result in Round 9, as we look to improve our 2021 record to 8-1.

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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31 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 8 at Canterbury

  1. Shaun

    In a year or two past, such a scrappy performance would have lead to a nail biting finish. I thought Moses, without doing anything brilliant, put Parra into a gear or two above the Dogs to snuff out that faint hope of a comeback. It was a good sign. If Dylan Brown can find his way out of his rut then I think Parra will find another gear. Which is just a little bit exciting.

  2. Rob

    I cannot wait to watch the replay on this one! I will definitely be onto it tomorrow. 😀

    The Roosters game will be a match for the ages if we turn up with form and good attitude. I would love to see a repeat of the Canberra game!

    1. mitch Post author

      I might just give it another watch too – think the two tries Bryce was involved with were probably my favourites.

  3. BDon

    Did we play a pretty good first 20 minutes, a scratchy second 20 minutes, then the last 40 like a Bob Dylan concert, highs and lows in abundance? The scratchy 20 took the pressure right off the Dogs. Mitch Moses’ kicking game was good through all periods, and even his only miscue drew a penalty. Gutho, Reed and Papali’i all good. Nice Dean Martin rip off Mitch, he does sing better than Bob D.

  4. greg okladnikov

    Another solid performance – it is good to see we can now do what is expected against weaker teams – Broncos, Bulldogs as an example – it is what the Storm have done well for years – win the games against the poor teams and win them well ( even if it can be patchy at times)> And when we haven’t won them well – we have got the job done ( eg- Tigers, Sharks) by being patient and just sticking to the plan

    And we also now have the ability to lift the intensity against the better teams – Raiders, Storm

    Exciting times ahead

    1. mitch Post author

      Agreed! If we are able to continue this form, beating the bad sides and taking it to the better sides (with the exception of the Dragons game) we really do give ourselves the best chance of a premiership we’ve had in a long time.

  5. Jimbob

    Great job Miatch. I think you are pretty much on the mark with the grading. Some are critical towards Dbaggs but I’m backing the kid to be in out best 5 in the next few weeks.

    1. mitch Post author

      Here’s hoping you’re right. I have little doubt he’ll be back soon (and let’s be honest, he’s not terrible at the moment by any stretch)

  6. Glenn

    Tonight Parra had a chance to make a statement, unfortunately it was the wrong one. I was looking for up tempo attack and defence but they were pedestrian with sloppy handling thrown in. If we’re a heavy weight we have to play like one and unless they lift for next week they’ll be exposed by a wounded Rooster. I’m looking for a contender not a pretender.

    1. Mr controversy aka rev

      Good win last night was very good to get a win vs the puppies. I dont think jac n Burton will help then any more. It’s plain and simple Barrett can’t coach. Ppl talk this faker up his a fool. Anyhow the grades are spot on. Great game from the boy’s really happy for them. Just need to improve the handling errors. We can control them then we dominate teams. Next week should be a cracking game with to inform teams minus some stars.

      Eels by 6.

    2. mitch Post author

      I take your point, and understand where you’re coming from; but I think we’re better off saving our best performances for Rounds 20 onwards. I’m happy if we’re simply racking up the wins at this point in the season; save our best for the run to the Finals.

    3. Milo

      Glenn I can see that view mate; and I thought we had some errrors in us that we need to get rid of, as Easts do not make many. I guess my point is, we will see against the likes of Easts, Souffs and Penriff how good we are when do play them.

  7. Luke

    Agree with the grades but concerned about Brown.D’s form this year. He’s been average on top of multiple glaring errors each game. It’s not likely with BA, but a week or 2 in NSW Cup might be needed to sharpen his focus with Rankin or Smith. W taking his place. Ava S should be eyeing a ban for lifting knees into Brown.N in that tackle.

    1. mitch Post author

      I think we’re playing well enough at this stage and winning not to worry too much about it; let him regain his form in the top level.

      Even if we dropped a game or two, I think we persist until it starts to really impact us. Put your best 17 on the park unless the wins stop coming.

  8. Bensville Darren

    For the longest time I could not forget nor forgive the treacherous Jamie Lyon for jumping ship and joining an arrogant Manly team. However, in Gutho I feel I can finally exorcise those demons. He may not have the raw natural ability Lyon had but Gutho has so many strings to his bow that I bet the Manly faithful were wishing he was still running out in the burgundy and white. Especially when the singled vowelled Trbo was enjoying another extended stay on the bench.
    Long live the King!

    1. mitch Post author

      You know I’ve never thought of Gutho like this, I will sleep easier tonight Darren.

      Thank you.

  9. Dday

    Good to check in with the grades Mitch. 3 x As, 4 X Vs probably tells the story. The eels are playing well and largely sticking to the game of playing thru the middle. A bit of dropped ball an a few players not at their peak but always under control. Agree Opocic is tremendous value and Marata a beast. So good to see BA utilise the bench last night, applaud the mixing up the run on team.
    Roosters will be a test.

  10. Offside

    To be honest I was frustrated by the performance last night.
    Yes we got the win but we just didn’t play the 80 like we should
    We let them into the game and played inpatient at times.
    But we got the job done.
    I’m starting to get concerned with Dylan’s output it would not be worst thing if he had some time in Reggies.

    I think Junior has been playing within himself for a few weeks next week against a better opposition will see him produce a big game.

  11. Wilhelmina

    Gee, there are some doomsayers here who seem to have utterly missed the point. We started professionally, and got out to a lead, having taken our opponents seriously enough. Our key players were solid throughout the game. There were lapses, but even during those, we never looked truly threatened – there was no sense that “the comeback is on here” like there has been in the past.

    We took the opportunity to give some players a different role (eg Oregon starting, Haze playing), and they stepped up well. A few players got to play less minutes than usual, which should stand them in good stead for next week, against a tougher opponent.

    Was it as clinical as we’d like? No. Did it all work, and look smooth as players shuffled round into different positions? Of course it didn’t – that’s WHY it needed to happen. Against different opposition, the same choices wouldn’t have been made by the coach, or indeed the the players. Was I nevertheless yelling at them from the stands when they made an error? Yup. I’m a fan, that’s what we do.

    I can also see the bigger picture.

    We showed last week that we can take a poor team seriously and rack up a score. This week was a chance for something else. You won’t hear anyone at the club say it, but this was a learning opportunity for some players, a chance to try out different things, and a chance for a lower workload for some others. We got what we needed out of it, including a relatively comfortable win.

    Seriously, the lowest grade Mitch has given is a C+, and nobody is arguing. If it’s the same kinda grades next week, we’ll be ecstatic.

    1. Colin Hussey

      Wilhelmina, totally agree with your comments, in a sense we won ugly, but I would take that anytime as against a loss that is full of pretty stuff that did not work.

      The coach gave us a view of possible future changes last night, especially with the bringing on of Haze Dunster even in a short run, the change of the players in the run on side also brought us some positive insights in players such as Oregon, who many in the past doubted his abilities and too small, did well for mine.

      What I saw is two teams of different qualities but both had purpose, the eels won even with the loss of NB, who was going ok up to the point of injury, many will now be saying time to let him go, this injury time out may well be the catalyst for him to be on R&R ready to go full steam when he’s back.

    2. Anonymous

      No names wilhelmia but those doomsayers are the same names every time ,total negativity and no real understanding of the reality of the game , for everything we are trying to do theres 17nrl standard opposition players trying to make it hard for us , fortunately were more succesful than they are with a few hiccups , its harder than it looks people !!

    3. Glenn

      The Roosters, despite their big injury toll, will be a big test and we’ll have to be better, much better, as they play an up tempo game. That was what I was looking for in this game and to be competitive against the good teams is the way we need to play. Still think we’re not holding down enough in the ruck to set our D line as the Storm hold gown for an age and continue to get away with it.

  12. Brelogail St Boy

    Personally I think you are being a little kind to some of the boys … particularly our halves. I thought Dylan was off his game tonight and Mitch very quiet . And then you were a little hard on Shaunus Highaitus. Were was the mention of his very good try ?

      1. Brelogail St Boy

        Maybe I’m the one being a little harsh on Mr Moses, but can you recall many of the scintillating runs that we had seen in the previous 2 weeks. And considering that the opposition were of similar calibre.

  13. Jimmy Corbo

    As per previous comments, I thought it was a professional effort, get the job done and move on. I agree with your comments on Opa, nice little pick up.

    Again kudos to BA for his bench rotation, some hard lessons from last year as players got tired when the big show was nigh, short term strategy with a long term plan.

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