Did anyone notice that Parra won a game of football last Friday night?
It was a seriously good performance, strangling the Roosters out of the game by dominating both territory and possession.
In doing so, the Eels got a four point jump on the Roosters on the Premiership table and moved into outright second place.
Somehow the result, and the Eels performance in achieving victory, just slipped into some sort of rugby league abyss.
I’m ignoring the garbage and getting on with what needs to be discussed.
Bumpers Up people!
That Winning Feeling
At some stage this week it would be worthwhile acknowledging the winning ways of our Eels.
Yet despite sitting outright second on the table, the Eels have somehow been ignored when recent praise has been handed out.
Nobody was ignorant of the missing players in the Roosters line up last Friday, but few have spoken about the stars still present and how well they had disposed of other opponents prior to taking on the Eels.
That final score flattered the Roosters. The Eels could have easily added three more tries, whilst one of the tri-colours tries came against the run of play when they picked up a loose Parra pass. As “brave” as they’ve been credited with being, the visitors rarely threatened the Eels defence.
There’s no disrespect meant in that assessment. The Eels were simply much too strong on the night. If others want to ignore it in their search for this week’s happy place, that’s their problem!
Ignoring The Parra Bashing
Has channel switching become a habit in your household?
I love my footy. If I miss any match on the weekend, the weekly wrap ups and panel shows are an easy watch to keep up to date with the trials and tribulations of rival teams.
And when Parra’s winning, I can normally kick back and enjoy the odd positive opinion about their form.
But since Friday night, I’ve progressed from switching channels and hitting radio dials to not even tuning in on regular programs. I haven’t been interested in reading social media opinions.
I’m not angry or outraged. I just can’t be bothered.
The opinions of plagiarists or especially those with agendas have no validity. Their “insights” or takes shouldn’t be put on a pedestal. They merely have a platform, and the fact is that they probably watch less football than many rugby league tragics.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still quality journos out there. Those that know their footy. Those that do their own research.
But, I’ve often referred to the NRL and its dramas as a soap opera. Unfortunately, it’s certain journos who’ve taken coverage of the game down that path, with themselves as the narrator.
Right now, their script is worse than a B Grade movie. I’ll pass, and happily so.
I Won’t Bag Dyl
There’s no avoiding the carelessness of Dylan Brown’s contact on Drew Hutchison.
The outcome was awful for Hutchison and Dylan was quick to express his remorse.
He won’t be the first nor will he be the last player to have contact go wrong. And anyone who’s followed Dylan’s footy would be aware that he just isn’t a cheap shot person.
I haven’t agreed with those who’ve suggested that he’s been out of form.
His defensive contributions are in the elite class – up near the best that you’ll ever see for a player in the halves.
And his try on Friday night was a reminder of the potency of his running game.
If there’s an aspect of Dylan’s game that requires development, and it’s something which even he acknowledges, it’s his sustained focus in attack. The moments when he won’t be involved in the attack are far too easy to read. It’s a sharp contrast to his vigilance in defence.
Yet, that collision on Hutchison was contact without thought. It was the epitome of careless. And though it was only one moment, I was stunned to see him lose such focus.
Three weeks out is not ideal, but it might just be a blessing in disguise as I reckon we’ll see a sharper, more focussed Dylan Brown when he returns.
Much Ado About Nothing
So Parra evidently rolled the dice in ignoring NRL advice in playing Top 30 squad members in last week’s Knock On Effect Cup.
Some rival clubs were quick to criticise. Media types rubbed their hands with glee about being able to weave a drama charged narrative out of an easily solved situation.
The NRL had merely advised clubs that they should remove top 30 players from second tier games.
They did not mandate it.
Was it unwise to play such players? Was it a calculated risk?
It’s perhaps easy to understand why some clubs are a bit dirty about a rival not following advice, though it probably had more to do with the Eels being rugby league’s “villains du jour”.
But just like the Roosters players had to pass COVID tests to play last Friday night, the Eels players who played in the Knock On Effect Cup will be subject to COVID testing before taking to the training fields in Queensland.
It was a simple enough solution that makes you wonder what all the fuss was about.
I do want to talk some footy. But it’s a topic that continues to leave me perplexed.
What constitutes an obstruction? I’m fairly clear in my mind about whether a particular play is an actual obstruction to the defence.
I’m even confident that I understand a technical obstruction – one that might have had minimal impact on the defence but it’s impossible to ignore where a player has run or positioned himself.
But lately, the bunker seems to be swinging wildly between great calls and atrocious decisions. How is it that people who are considered professionals in their field can be so inconsistent in applying such a basic rugby league rule?
In the clash between the Dragons and the Dogs, Canterbury’s Luke Thompson claimed Ben Hunt obstructed his attempt to tackle Paul Vaughan right on the try line.
The bunker correctly ruled it was a try, but it was a very close call because the players were in very close proximity to each other
But if that try passed muster, in what universe was there any obstruction from Papali’i in Maika Sivo’s disallowed try on Friday night? Papa didn’t prevent Roosters players from getting involved in the defence. I don’t even recall a single Roosters player voicing an objection.
Yet an obstruction was found.
I’ll go so far as to say it was one of the worst obstruction calls you’ll see this year, and we’ve still not reached the first half of the season. There may have been outcries over the big incidents from that game but little about what was an vital decision that momentarily changed the momentum in the game.
From an officiating perspective, the no try decision was a howler.
Jake Arthur Set To Debut
The Cumberland Throw has been tracking the progress of Jake Arthur ever since he took the field in Eels Junior development squads.
Jake has always been a team focussed player. It’s an essential quality in being a game manager. He’s never shied away from contact, in both attack and defence, and his composure is beyond his years.
Much has been made of his kicking game, and it’s definitely a strength, as is his ability to create time and space for those around him. However, the development in his running game during 2021 has added an additional string to his bow.
This debut has arrived much earlier than I anticipated. It probably wasn’t in the 2021 plans of Jake or Brad.
If he’s nervous, I doubt we’ll see it.
As followers of his progress throughout his pathways journey, we couldn’t be prouder.
The Cumberland Throw Live
We promised that this would be an exciting year for The Cumberland Throw.
The latest development has been our “live” features.
Firstly, it was our live appearance at Parra Leagues at the first home game of the season. The Tip Sheet podcast from Pablos, featuring Mary K, Joey Grima and Eels legend Brett Kenny, was watched by a full house and the feedback was incredibly positive.
Then last weekend, with the permission of NSWRL and the Eels, Forty and I provided live stream audio coverage of the Eels Knock On Effect and Jersey Flegg matches. There was no safety net in going live, but it was quite an experience. My thanks to everyone who took the time to provide feedback on TCT and especially those who sent encouraging messages via phone, text, DM etc.
We are scheduled to again appear in Pablos at Parra Leagues prior to the home clash with Manly.
We look forward to seeing you there.