The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Roosters

Parramatta Eels 31

Sydney Roosters 18

The Eels‘ ability to grind out a win can no longer be questioned. Our season record barely tarnished. Premiership credentials are very much in tact. Bold Parra fans might even say that another Finals appearance seems almost a foregone conclusion.

Whether they are more consistent, more ruthless, more mature, or have simply developed the ability to turn possession into a tiring advantage, or field position eventually into points, the Eels are many things they’ve never been before.

Depending on who you ask, the boys in Blue (and Gold) are either patiently turning the screws with their attack, or unable to turn their humungous possession into points. If you ask me, it’s the former. However, I noticed that Fox NRL quoted Shane Flanagan comparing the Eels’ execution to the all conquering Panthers, noting that:

“They’ve had so many opportunities to score points tonight.

“This was a real opportunity for Mitchell Moses to put his hand up and say this is my football team, follow me.

“You saw that in the earlier game, [Nathan] Cleary took charge of the game. He (Moses) needed to do that tonight.”

In response, I’d like to say three things, Shane.

Firstly, the Panthers were playing the Sharks, a team whose wins total two and who have the third worst defence in the NRL. Secondly, the Eels did take charge of the game, they stayed in control, they didn’t panic when they had three disallowed tries or lost their starting hooker. Despite it getting within six in the second half, I dare say they were never really all that threatened by the admittedly injury ravaged but incredibly well drilled Sydney Roosters. Thirdly (and probably most frustrating about the current state of NRL ‘analysis’), when we executed almost this exact same game plan (patience, hold the ball, turn the screws, exhaust the opposition) against the Cronulla Sharks in Round 3, people lapped it up.

Sure with each team down on key attacking troops (read: Reed for the Eels), the calibre of football wasn’t necessarily a game for the pool room, but I’m not hiding a solid win over the Roosters out in the back shed, either.

But at the end of the day, the comments aren’t important. It was a Friday night and B’west was bursting at the seams. Parra strolled onto their hallowed turf, took it to their wounded opponents and came away with a 13 point win to the ecstatic joy of a ravenous, once victory starved near sell out crowd to take their season record to 8-1.

All sounds pretty great, right?

Well, despite everything I just said, in other ways it was a little more complicated than that.

Here’s hoping Drew Hutchison is ok. Rugby League can be a brutal sport (and to be honest, Dylan Brown should have done better). Our up and down Number 6 will likely be facing multiple rounds on the sidelines for a set of pretty silly/lazy/disappointing knees to the ribs of his opposing number. I can see the argument suggesting Dylan was trying to pull out of the contact, but intention isn’t always the story at the MRC (nor should it be) and the injury was obviously pretty serious.

The chatter around Marata’s incident is a bit more positive and I heard a few commentators suggest that would be at the minor end of the scale (maybe a week or two at worst).

Elsewhere, it was both a brutal and closely fought contest, with neither side having players with a high metre to run ratio, particularly evident for the fellows who feature in the middle of the park. On one hand I can see why people would say the Eels looked a bit flat out there at times (I, for one, said just that); but on the other hand Parra never really seemed like they were going to lose control. Admittedly, the bounce of the Rugby League ball means it was never really time to relax until Dylan scored the match winner.

Heck, maybe it just means that the Eels are finally maturing.

Maybe we all are.

I mean, every now and then I find a random hair growing on my shoulder, and that definitely didn’t happen when I was younger.

As I mentioned above, the Eels had A LOT of possession tonight. At the end of 80, Parramatta had held onto 57% of the ball, completed 85% of their sets (41/48) and had run 2306 metres (to the Roosters‘ 1580). Missed tackles was also in favour of the Eels (28 to 35), as was field position (51 minutes of the game was played in the Roosters half of the field).

I won’t go into great detail, but I’m not sure Matt Cecchin had his best game, either. He was basically flipping a coin on those try/no try calls, leading to 4 different occasions where he called one thing, only for the video ref to (correctly) overturn it. I am anything but an NRL official, but the boys in the stats lab tell me that happening four times in one game is not ideal.

Also I thought the Roosters were offside (jumping the gun, or simply not retreating the 10) for most of the game, but based on everyone’s paltry running numbers, I suspect the Eels probably were too (“they weren’t, at any point, I promise!” – the comments below, probably).

I continue to be wildly impressed with Isaiah Papali’i; he cannot just be a good deal for Season 2021, he needs to be part of our pack from now on. What an absolute steal. Junior Paulo was once again similarly brilliant.

Despite the reflections of Shane Flanagan, I also thought Mitch Moses had a controlled game, and once he started to engage the line and take the hits (after about 20 minutes or so), showed plenty of patience and class.

But based on collisions alone, tonight’s MVP is the man with the mo, everyone’s favourite law firm, Reagan, Campbell and Gillard (Full Credit to the Boys). In a combat-like middle of the field, RCG stood tall.

Also a big shout out to Nat Butcher for the Roosters, who was not only pretty terrific with ball in hand, he also made a ridiculous 67 tackles.

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

It was good to not only see Clint Gutherson running around out there tonight, but also his heavier, older brother Angus Crichton, aka ‘Thicc Gutho’.

Although Gutho’s statistical game tonight could only be described as “mere mortal” (16 runs, 172m, 1 offload, 5 tackle breaks), he still had a hand and presence in most good things we did with the ball.

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Sorry for all the fan boys and girls out there, but I actually thought Maika Sivo was pretty average tonight. In an energy sapping, greasy condition, injury toll mounting, war of attrition like tonight’s game, we really needed our wingers (and centres for that matter) to come in and take the tough carries as much as possible. You’ll also notice his opposing winger (the talented, but more familiar to NSW Cup than NRL), Matt Ikuvalu had three of all of the Roosters’ tries tonight.

Stat wise, Maika also had just 9 carries of the football (62m), 1 offload and a very un-Maika-like 0 tackle breaks.In comparison, Fergo had 17 hit ups (and received one less kick than Sivo), Gutho had 16, Marata had 11 and Opacic had 9. He wasn’t Vai Toutai or anything, but the guy out there playing tonight certainly didn’t look like Maika Sivo, either.

Tom Opacic

3 – Left Centre

To his credit, Thomas John Opacic is much too sensible for Post Game Grades. He just wants you to know his stats were 9 runs for 55m, a try, an offload, 4 tackle breaks and 11 tackles. He would now like to return to his word jumble.

Marata Niukore

4 – Right Centre

Tonight Crash ran out for another (and possibly final, until further notice) time at the unfamiliar increasingly familiar centre position. Tonight he got himself 11 runs (79m), 1 try assist, 1 tackle break, 11 tackles and a date with the MRC judiciary.

Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing

I must admit I have gone back and forth on whether I am in favour of offering Fergo another contract. You’ve got all the positives (huge running metres and he seems like a good addition to the lockeroom) and the negatives to weigh up (the occasional error and some questions around his defence). But I think tonight pushed me over the edge; let’s give the man another year on a reduced rate.

The stats weren’t worldwide, but 17 runs (114m), an offload, 7 tackle breaks and a crazy try (was almost two) was enough to put me firmly back in his fan club. Also, shout out to @me_dc for the photo.

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Just when Dylan Brown thought it was safe to go back in the water.

Game wise I thought the Kiwi prodigy was much better tonight, although still shaking off a bit of rust with his timing. The game winning run was obviously pretty great (that step, my word) and his stats aren’t bad, either: 9 runs for 69m, 1 linebreak, 1 try, 2 tacklebreaks and 27 tackles.

But um, yeah. We’ll see what he gets charged with, I guess.

Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

As above, I thought The Prince of Egypt was calm, composed and in control for large parts of last night’s game, in a way that the very young Sam Walker is yet to master (again, understandably; he probably doesn’t even shave yet). Speaking of which, the 38kg half probably could have been asked to make more than 16 tackles, particularly after he injured his ankle. I mean if only we had a gigantic Fijian winger or ferocious, weightlifting Kiwi to run at him.

In any case, our half Mitch not only had 11 points, 16 kicks (592m), 11 tackles, he really did ice the game with the slickest of field goals; as cool as the other side of the pillow.


8 – Front Row

Absolutely sterling game from the local Mo-er Man with an Energizer Bunny-esque 20 runs for 153 metres, 3 tackle breaks and 23 tackles.

Watching RCG take it to JWH was a thing of beauty, assuming if by ‘beauty’ you mean two gigantic humans running into each other at full pelt. It truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Get well soon mate. Judging by our attack once you went off, we desperately need you.

Also, that was a seriously brilliant pass for Cartwight’s second.

Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Great stuff once again from the soon to be named NSW Blue, getting through an absolute mountain of work in the middle; 23 runs (for a relatively subdued 160m), with the standard 4 offloads and 24 tackles. Strangely enough Junior also didn’t have any tackle breaks. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe “Paulo” is a Samoan antonym for delicate.

Isaiah Papali’i

11 – Second Row

Young, wild and free. Isaiah Papali’i is out of control and I am out of my mind, rocking through a similarly impressive 23 charges for 164m, whilst also nabbing a try assist, linebreak assist, 6 tackle breaks and 28 tackles. The more I think about it, a simple perm would see Ice Papa easily send out some “suburban Mum going on a weekend trip without the kids” vibes.

Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

Is it just me, or did Ryan Matterson look to be moving in slow motion out there tonight? Considering the rest of the team’s performance, there’s nothing really wrong with his 15 runs for 105m, 3 offloads and try assist stat line; I’m just not sure he’s back to full confidence.

To be clear, I have little doubt he is sufficiently healthy, I’m just not sure his play suggests he trusts the contact just yet; and that’s a tricky place for an NRL player to be.

Shaun Lane

15 – Lock

If ever it was getting a bit too exciting out there, if ever we needed to settle our attack down, Shaun Lane was the man for the job; running head first chest first into the defence and doing his best to stand all the way up again for a quick play the ball. Promoted into Browny’s vacant lock position, Lane racked up a very healthy 139 metres from 17 carries, adding 1 offload and 3 tackle breaks to his 24 tackle tally.

Not bad at all, and certainly not as bad as my shouts from the stands made out.

Oregon Kaufusi

14 – Interchange

His more fancy and creative teammates might be getting all the accolades, their plays lighting up endless highlight reels, but without the meat and vegetable like 16 runs for 124 metres (and 16 tackles) from guys like Oregon Kaufusi, those fancy finishing touches never see the light of day.

Now a sure fire part of the Eels 17 each week, if nothing else, it’s good to know the young bloke is starting to see the fruits of his labour.

Haze Dunster

15 – Interchange

Just like the other 4 members of S Club 7, Haze Dunster didn’t really do much out there tonight. So much so I wondered what on earth he was even doing there. I mean do you think they split the profits seven ways? Surely not.

Wait. Where was I?

Bryce Cartwright

16 – Interchange

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but once he got used to the bright light of Bankwest Stadium, Bryce Cartwright has turned into a straight up maniac.

After he scored his second try (meanwhile, Papali’i the slacker didn’t even get one for the second week in a row), Bryce Cartwright’s statline read: 2 line breaks, 2 tackle breaks, 2 tries, 7 running metres in 4 minutes. Good size, not bhed.

I don’t have the stats to support this (or the inclination to look it up), but the big guy could be playing the best football of his career. If that is even remotely true, take a moment to think about the sort of money the Titans shelled out for him, and it will only serve to highlight the sort of value the Eels are getting for him in 2021.

Keegan Hipgrave

17 – Interchange

Besides another look at his stats (5 runs, 35m and 8 incredible tackles), all you need to know is that Keegan Hipgrave refuses to lose a game in 2021.

He is now a perfect 6-0 in NRL games this year, and I think he likes it. Whether it be Monopoly, noughts and crosses or the highest level of professional Rugby League, I think Keegan looks like one of those guys that really enjoys a win.

Also, shout out to the Hipgrave family, huge fans of the Throw. Please know I’m sorry if I ever have to give your son a bad grade, but it sort of comes with the territory. With that said, I also want you to know that I really like his moustache.

So now we’ve knocked over the “Melbourne at full strength” hoodoo, the “Raiders in Bruce Stadium” hoodoo, the “weekend after Darwin” hoodoo, and tonight we took care of the “why can’t we ever beat the Roosters?” hoodoo.

So what’s next?

*checks notes*

Oh. It’s the old “win a Premiership” hoodoo. That 35 year old chestnut.

Well the Eels will try their very best to take another small step in that direction next week as we take on the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.

A group of mates and I will be flying up to see it all live (how good!), so I’m not exactly sure what that will mean for Grades (sorry Mum and all the other weekly readers of this post).

Whatever happens, I’ll see you all at some point, sports fans.

Go you Eels,


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

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19 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Roosters

  1. Luke

    Good read as usual and I agree with RCG as top dog. His battle with JWH was a real highlight, bashing the sh*t out of each other with smiles on their faces. Lane in the middle should be permanent with Papa wider & looked a better player for it. Will be interested to see 5/8 starter next week and maybe hooker too with the HIA ramifications.

  2. Paul

    Great stuff Mitch. I give you an A- for your grades today . Would have been a straight A grade but you slightly over used the crossing out function 🤣

  3. Paul

    Great stuff Mitch. I give you an A- for your grades today . Would have been a straight A grade but you slightly over used the crossing out function 🤣

  4. Paul

    Great stuff Mitch. I give you an A- for your grades today . Would have been a straight A grade but you slightly over used the crossing out function 🤣

  5. Haydos

    Always love the post grade games and the instant reaction podcast. It’s the first thing I go to every morning after the game. Keep up the good work! As an aside (and maybe it was deliberate) you’ve referred to Moses as a “she” in the MVP discussion. Deliberate or not, it is kind of funny!

  6. BDon

    Tks Mitch, RCG, Junior and Papa each had MVP claims. RCG had one of those old school middle of the park games, he earned it.
    What could Marata do? Tedesco fell into a body tackle, Maratas right arm was being used, not a shoulder charge, just a split second collision.

  7. Anonymous

    Good read, finally an article that didn’t favour the NRL’s precious Roosters. The hypocrisy from fox sports in particular is incredible, but anything to sell clicks I guess. Anyways, good to see the boys get some credit for a good win against a high quality club.

  8. Mr controversy aka rev

    What a game last night the rooster’s should be glad that we were denied 3 tries. We score those n we win by more. Ferguson just half a inch more brother.

    Mitch i agree with you on the Cartwright 2nd try what a lovely ball from Reedy he was braining the rooster’s before being KO’d. Really goe’s to show how much of a link he is for the team.

    This may sound cruel or grubby. But not for 1 minute do i feel sorry for Hutchinson or his bunch of grubby mate’s. The rooster’s don’t like being beaten so once they are behind they play dirty as well.

    Personally i like papali’i coming off the bench he brings impact n energy along with Cartwright.

    For the life of me i don’t understand the dunster experiment. Any how I’ll take the a win by any mean

  9. Zero58

    Okay, can we call that a pretty win or a pretty good win. Let’s go for the latter. East are a very tough organised team. Anyone below the top 4 and they would won. They are a great team and they play it tough so injuries are bound to happen in such games.
    Quite frankly I don’t care about their injuries. Did the Storm really care about Matterson? Do East care about Mahoney – just like the Storm they would win at any cost. That’s why it’s taken them so long to spare Cordiner and Friend. Hargreaves is one the dirtiest players in their team. Why was East so good for so long? They were relentless in defence and they had guys who will really hurt you.
    I thought Parra was always in control even when East scored that rather lucky try. Why didn’t Silvo chase him, he was only trotting in the background. East would have stopped that try. That’s something to work – give nothing away.
    Parra should never allow Papalini into dummy half. That pass – did it get off the ground.
    Shaun Lane had a cracker of a game and did not drop one ball. Well done Shaun.
    I stand by my original comments Cartwright is worth the investment. Mr Sixties gave us some insight with him from his training reports.
    I think, should he continue showing this form then an extension of his contract is a must.
    And Michell was great – he is talking with more authority and vision.
    Gutherson was equal to Tedesco.
    Great game – great win – now is the time to press on regardless of who is suspended.
    And please BA don’t make Dunster a reserve. We need a strong utility or another forward. Grieg would have been a real asset last night.

  10. Brett

    Find it remarkable coaches hadn’t done any planning around loss of key position player.

        1. Anonymous

          Agree with Brett. Should have had a utility instead of Dunster eg Rankin or Lussik. Dunster for a bottom 4 clash but against a quality side like the Roosters we could afford to waste a bench spot

  11. Trouser Eel

    Love your work Mitch.
    I must admit, I’m a bit worried about magic round. Not so much about the footy, but the thought that you’ll be loose up there with your mates. Remember tattoos are forever, so if it happens, make sure it’s a good one.

  12. Wile

    Anyone know what happened between RCG and Angus Chrichton few minutes before the end, RCG seemed to do/say something to wind AC up. They made up at the end though.

  13. Offside

    Happy with the win
    Not satisfied with the performance and that’s a good thing we should aim for better.

    Now it’s interesting to see what happens with who comes in for the suspended duo.

  14. Stu White

    Another great write up mate. Catch you for a beer on Caxton at some stage. Any plans for a Throw Party?

  15. Mr controversy aka rev

    I think there was more to this then just losing player’s to injury. It’s blown up because the rooster’s didn’t get to show Joseph suali. If it was so important for the rooster’s to cry foul because they didn’t get to show Joseph suali then it’s there fault tbey should have had him in the 17… plain and simple. Rankin to make debut.

    Eels to continue on there winning ways vs nz warriors.

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