The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 13 at Newcastle


Parramatta Eels 40

Newcastle Knights 4


Bouncing back from a horror couple of weeks where the NRL media and every second Eels fan had us in the running for a Brad Arthur and Gutho-less rebuild, Parra absolutely demolished the Knights in their backyard, doing what Manly couldn’t do just 7 days earlier and enter the Hunter as favourites, coming away with the chocolates.

Other than the scoreline, the myriad of ways the Eels were able to score points, I think my favourite aspect of this afternoon’s clash was the triumphant awakening of Waqa Blake. I’m not exactly sure what this means for Blake Ferguson’s future in the Blue & Gold, but I can’t imagine Haze did anything to lose his spot.

All in all the scoreline reads 8 tries to 1 in favour of the good guys, and I for one am happy to see us back in the winner’s circle. How good!


The 2021 Parramatta Eels went up to Newcastle on Old Boys Day (as they celebrated the heartbreaking 2001 Grand Final victory/loss), and did more than enough to get the job done.

Sure, Mitch’s goalkicking could have been better, but most of all I’m just hoping Reed’s shoulder will be alright sooner rather than later.


As far as almost certainties for the Top 4 go, Parra’s defence really fell off the boil in recent weeks, allowing a ludicrous 20 combined line breaks against Souths and Manly. Thankfully that trend ended abruptly this afternoon, with the Knights only sneaking through our defences on 4 occasions, and only converting one of those occasions into points.

However, the statistical category of the afternoon has to be the Eels’ dominance in the offload category, slipping away 22 offloads to the Knights’ 3; you could tell they really missed Klemmer’s second phase play (as well as the talents of Ponga, Pearce, Frizell and Saifiti). Elsewhere the Eels controlled 55% of possession and dominated Newcastle in completions (33 from 43, 77% to 23 from 36, 64%), field position (23 minutes in their 20 vs 10 minutes in ours) and running metres (2456 to 1810).

I thought the refs were fine, too; although for what it’s worth I didn’t think Sauaso Sue should have been binned for the hit on Reed. Penalty was more than sufficient in my opinion.


Look, I could give it to one of 4 players, and I’d feel bad for not giving it to any of them. I’ve gone back and forth between Dylan, Gutho, Waqa and Shaun Lane. Heck even Maika Sivo scored two tries and had a great game statistically.

You could make a reason for any of them; Gutho won the Twitter poll I put up, Dylan’s return was outstanding, Waqa’s explosion made me the happiest and Shaun Lane is really making me eat humble pie.

Rather than losing too much sleep over an award that means absolutely nothing, I’m choosing Clint Gutherson this week. With that said, as you can probably tell, I wouldn’t be upset with anyone who suggests anyone else.




Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

A much better performance from our talismanic fullback in Round 13. Instead of dropping bombs and watching Damien Cook stroll past him, like body odour at a music festival this week Clint Gutherson was in everything.

You wouldn’t have to look too hard to see The King’s fingerprints all over each of Sivo’s tries as well as 2 linebreak assists, 2 linebreaks of his own, 4 tackle breaks and 18 runs for 144 metres. It’s a vintage game from a man who’s evidently been seeing Enzo to cut his hair, when he really should be seeing Gino.



Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

I have to confess: I love watching Maika Sivo run straight over opposition players; I mean just wind him up and watch him go. Today he brought the pain in the form of 2 tries, 10 runs for 123 metres, 3 offloads, 2 linebreaks, 2 linebreak assists, 1 try assist and 4 tackle breaks.

With his double today, Maika is now the third quickest player in the NRL era to reach 50 career tries. The first two? Fellow Fijian flyers Suliasi Vunivalu and some guy called Semi Radradra.



Tom Opacic

3 – Right Centre

It was good to see Tom Opacic and his gorgeous eyes celebrate his 12 month extension with the Eels with another four pointer. Saint Thomas also got through 13 runs, 104 running metres, 1 linebreak, 4 tackle breaks and 13 tackles.

Love this from Tom; glad he’s sticking around for at least another year.


Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

I thought it was an encouraging first charge from Waqa, little did I know that it would herald one of the best games from Waqa Blake since the stone age.

When was the last time you saw Waqa’s stat line read anything like 16 runs for 154m, 1 linebreak, 7 tackle breaks and 11 tackles? The answer?


Haze Dunster

5 – Right Wing

Making his third ever NRL appearance, Haze Dunster finally got his first ever four pointer in the NRL, after scoring 7 tries in 8 games so far this season in NSW Cup. Although not as Instagram worthy as your typical Blake Ferguson showing, maybe a little less fanfare is exactly what the team needs; where Ferguson is the NRL equivalent of an extravagant gender reveal party, and Dunster is much more sensible, simply letting your friends and family know by text. What I mean is, I can’t make it to your gender reveal party, I’m busy that day.

Haze did well when put under pressure, to not only secure Newcastle bombs but also did pretty well in his running game, getting through 13 runs for a more than respectable 124 running metres, 3 tackle breaks and an offload.



Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Making his return from a 3 week suspension (which felt more like an eternity), Dylan Brown ran out today hungry like the wolf (do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo). In short, he absolutely terrorised the Knights from pillar to post.

Without missing a beat, Dylan quickly warmed into his comeback game, ending up with a scorching hot 17 runs, a team high 168m, 1 linebreak assist, 3 tackle breaks and 23 tackles without a miss. It was easily his best game of the season. With absolutely no disrespect to the young and improving Jake Arthur, our right edge looked infinitely more effective with Dylan out there calling the shots.

Welcome back, young man. We’ve missed you.



Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Other than his goal kicking (2 from 6) I thought Mitch Moses was pretty excellent out there today. Not only did he admirably steer the Blue & Gold ship around the Marathon Stadium harbour, the Prince of Egypt also came up big on the defensive end making 9 tackles, including a huge effort to hold up Mitch Barnett in the 10th minute of the game. Although Mitch also got laid out by Starford Toa in the 27th minute, he did manage to get back into the play to recover the Clifford grubber on the next tackle, something the Moses of yesteryear might not have been willing to do.

Mitch’s kicking game was also back to his orchestral best (7 for 286m), with a couple of bombs in particular leaving Tex Hoy at the back looking lonelier than a spectator at the Tokyo Olympics. With all that pompous and praise said, seriously, kick a goal will you, mate?




8 – Front Row

The other Eels stud to return from suspension this week, RCG was only asked to play 44 minutes; nabbing a relatively pedestrian 13 runs for 96 metres and 27 tackles. It’s not a slight on RCG, we just didn’t need him hammer and tongs today.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Unceremoniously booted out of the QLD camp, I could tell you about all his in-game statistics, but Reed Mahoney‘s contribution to the Eels’ victory this afternoon is best demonstrated in a two minute spell where he threw a brilliant pass for Tom Opacic’s 56th minute try before following it up with an inch perfect 60 metre kick into the Knights in-goal area on the next set.

On the injury front we’ve apparently dodged the pec concern, here’s hoping it’s only a couple of weeks out for “the little one with the hat“. However long, thankfully it’s 2021 and we have the back ups (Smith, Lussick and Roache) to cover for him.



Marata Niukore

10 – Front Row

Not unlike RCG (above) or Nathan Brown (below), despite the start it wasn’t Marata’s best statistical game today with 7 runs for 59 metres and 25 tackles in only 36 minutes. With that said, a couple of starts ago this same man was lining up at centre, and today he’s named at prop; that’s some versatility.


Isaiah Papali’i

11 – Second Row

Ice had a disappointing couple of minutes to open the game; firstly getting the decoy run the slightest bit wrong to overturn the Waqa Blake four pointer (although you could make a case Clifford initiated contact), then dropping the ball on our next set. Nonetheless, since joining the Eels, Isaiah Papali’i has seen his stock rising faster than the Sydney housing market. This afternoon it looked like 15 runs for 126 metres, 1 offload, 2 tackle breaks and 24 tackles, a relatively standard line for the Kiwi sudden superstar.


Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

The Marble Carved Deity had a great charge at Tex Hoy to score the Eels first, and then a brilliant Gidley-esque flick for Dunster’s career first. I wasn’t fond of Matto’s form in his initial return from his Round 2 concussion, but he has really turned it on of late, with 14 runs, 111 metres, 1 linebreak, 1 try assist, and 29 tackles without a miss.

Let this image be a lesson to Fox League; letter spacing matters.


Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

If you would have told me a few weeks ago that Shaun Lane would easily outperform Nathan Brown in roughly the same amount of game time (Brown 54 minutes to Lane’s 58), I would not have believed you.

But here we are with a relatively ineffective 14 runs for 97 metres, and 32 tackles. Maybe like RCG this is just what we need from Browny today? Maybe BA challenged his bench to take it to the Knights so RCG and Cyborg wouldn’t have to? I’m not sure. Either way, I’m not worried or anything, I just work here.


Will Smith

14 – Interchange

Hey look everyone! Will Smith’s back.


Shaun Lane

15 – Interchange

The debate is over – bench and middle Shaun Lane is the best kind of Shaun Lane. Readers of grades will know that I’ve been trying to cut Shaun Lane out of my life like an obsessed ex girlfriend. Looks like he’s still got a hold on me and will continue to do so as long as he punches out 18 runs for 159 metres, 3 offloads, a linebreak assist, a try assist (pretty pass for Bryce Cartwright), 3 tackle breaks and 24 tackles without a miss.

Heck. Yes.



Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Evidently Brad Arthur liked the balance of Marata starting in the middle and Oregon off the bench, and from Kaufusi’s point of view it worked a treat, evidenced by his 14 runs, 123 metres, 3 offloads and 21 tackles.

I will wait with bated breath for Tuesday’s teamlist, because I’ll be damned if I’m dropping any one of Marata, Oregon, Smith, Lane or Cartwright to bring Junior back into the fold. It’s like Sophie’s Choice.



Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

In the light blue, navy and gold of the Titans, Bryce Cartwright looked about as cluey as the Victorian COVID response.

However, slap the honoured Blue & Gold of the Parramatta Eels across his chest and the man is everything you could hope for from a 6 foot 3, 107 kg behemoth with skills that could make a Globetrotter weep. It was peak Cartwright out there again this afternoon (that is no longer a sneer, by the way), with a try, 7 runs, a linebreak, try assist, and tackle break to go with his 17 tackles without a miss.

Cartwright? Cartwright? Just like that.



As I said last week, I’ve decided I prefer to watch the games that the Eels win.

I suspect I’ll need to check with the Panthers’ fanbase to determine whether this counts as a legitimate victory.

*checks NRL ladder*

Seems it does.

Despite the Chicken Little-esque responses of numerous Eels fans across social media this past week, with this win today Parra have solidified their position in the Top 4. Then again, we are also one week closer to our draw inspired nightmare end to the season.

But that’s not just yet. For now, however, it’s all attention to our matchup with the Tigers at Bankwest next Sunday.

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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55 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 13 at Newcastle

  1. greg okladnikov

    Accurate assessment of the game today. Granted, it was against opposition not at full strength but probably the sort of game we needed to get the confidence back. Everyone was good. Your question about who drops out for Junior to come back may be solved if Will Smith plays number 9?

    Also, a great reference to the classic Seinfeld episode and Gutho’s hair. Will be looking out for another reference next week !!

      1. greg okladnikov

        maybe we will set your a challenge of putting in a random reference into your reports?

  2. BDon

    Tks Mitch, I can turn the light off now. Lane, Kaufusi and Matterson all seemed to go up a gear, gave some definition to running hard. Dylan Brown for MVP. Gender reveal party?

  3. Parra Pete

    I, too, loved Waqa Blake’s game today. It was the form he displayed when he was rated ‘the next big thing’ at the Panthers. He looked somehow bigger, fitter and extremely athletic. I was so pleased for him. I think he will make a few heads turn from here on in. He is the most maligned player in the Club -and he must have felt so good with himself at full time..Bravo.

    1. mitch Post author

      I bet the club is ecstatic too. It was the best game I’ve seen from him in years, and I can’t think of too many close, either.

      1. Mr controversy aka the re

        The best game i saw waqa pkay was when he n big reg were at Penrith they blew us off the park

  4. Kevin Chambers

    Chicken Little , a very accurate description for some Parra supporters. Love the passion not the loyalty.

    1. mitch Post author

      Don’t dare question their assertion that the coach that has lifted us out of the mire of frequent last place to now pretty much a year on year lock for the Top 4 should be punted after a couple of losses. Surely the grass is greener Kevin!

      1. Poppa

        16 runs for 154m, 1 linebreak, 7 tackle breaks and 11 tackles? The answer?
        The answer is that Waqar Blake will never be a consistent player for Parra in the centres and after watching him get outside Sivo a couple of times, I doubt he will make it on the wing either.
        Those stats are so misleading when looking at the opposition, not once did Waqar get into clean air with a tackle break. He assisted with a try assist with shovelled run around passes, did nothing constructive as a centre to set up his winger and missed a tackle at the end of the game that was makable by any decent centre and cost us the stat that counts, keeping Knights to NIL.
        Mitch reading your summary I think you are living in a fools paradise!
        Parra’s tries from the Matterson first and then Dunster were so soft, it was embarrassing taking the points. Sivo tries (classic Sivo) were essentially Gutho’s set up, nothing from his centres. Lets say Cartwright’s try was good to watch, but it did come off an opposition player with an element of fluke. Opacic’s try came from a great dummy half pass by Mahoney.
        We constructed nothing from outside the 25 with Dyllan the only one looking likely to make a break.

        Sorry Mitch, if you can’t be honest, get someone else to do the ratings.
        Yes I know you will want to defend those statements, but you wouldn’t want me to be less than honest would you?

        1. Pou

          Games are won by hard metres, tackle breaks and quick play-the-balls, and that includes from your backs. Highlight reel plays come off the back of all the hard work leading up to them.

          1. Poppa

            Well Pou responded in a subliminal way with a conceptual answer but no discussion with regard to application of an answer to my comment.
            Fisho by his own admission is a fool and Big Roy see’s a clown that is disrespectful, disrespectful to who would be a response I can only ask……but yes why comment at all. The comment I made was objective and maybe not kind, but surely the response could have been subjective?

          2. Anonymous

            Get over yourself you complete idiot , stay over on the “ imbeceels”

  5. Longfin Eel

    I had a feeling the return of D Brown would spark our right edge defence into gear, and it certainly did. Dylan has been copping a fair bit of flack over the past few seasons, but the past few weeks have shown how much we miss his presence on that right edge.

    My thoughhts on the middle forwards is that we seemed to play more on the edges, floating passes out wide quite early in the set, thus negating the need for our middle forwards to work as hard as they normally do. I see BA has made this change to introduce another chink in our armour. To beat the top teams we need to be able to change our game plan according to the situation.

    1. mitch Post author

      The phrase “chink in our armour” generally refers to a weakness. Is this what you meant?

  6. Mr controversy aka the re

    Very good win. Still think we could have scored 50/60 points. I truly believe we could have scored a few more tries.

    Maybe the 🤴 can be our goal kicker. Or maybe Moses calf was troubling him during his kicks at goal that’s why he missed 4 kicks.

    I was surprised that Marata was a starting prop. Maybe brad could have went lane starting papali’i back to the bench n Marata on the edges. I felt that papali’i has gone abit of the boil.

    I can’t see fergo coming back unless Marata is inside him n we know brad won’t do that.

    Was really happy to see Dylan play really well.
    Those run metres were crazy for a 5/8.

    Mitch Moses needs to run more his more dangerous running.

    Next we play confident west tiger’s outfit. We will be ready n waiting for the cats o we can improve our for n against.

          1. John Eel

            Rev, when you say missing points, are you suggesting the Waqa Try that was disallowed or the goals that Mitch missed from the sidelines.

            Personally I was happy with the result. Also I thought the disallowed Try was legit

  7. Ace Eel

    I was at the game.. Its amazing the difference aspects you observe and take in compared to a view on the tv…. while it was a very much improved performance…what was absolute evident is our very slow individual player speed and our play the ball is such a snails pace.. even compared to a depleted knights team… this has to be our biggest flaw not getting over the advantage line..1st time at McDonalds Jones Stadium was vey impressed with the venue and facilities,

    1. BDon

      Have been watching the advantage line thing for weeks now. Game stats usually indicate good metres made, but quite often it relates to having extra sets and kicking is included. If you spend say 15 minutes watching set for set play, we are normally getting outrucked by 10 mtrs per set because opponents are not finding much trouble in getting numbers into the tackle and slowing our ruck. They get well set for next tackle, move up quickly and repeat same. It can give the impression we are not running hard, the guys with slower leg speed are being nailed quickly.Moses’ kicking game has has helped us mitigate the lower run metres. The Manly game was a classic example of working hard in the ruck but getting outpointed.

  8. Bensville Darren

    We need the Eels sport shrink to convince Sivo that no matter where they are on the field or who the opposition is, to go all Bobby Boucher (see ‘The Water Boy’) and think that he’s 10m out and playing Newcastle. That was brutal! Imagine watching it on 4D.

  9. Zero58

    Well, that was a great win and squared up the points against from the last two losses.
    The Knights did test our defence but not like the big four. Twenty plus tackles straight to get their first and only try which, really disappointed me. Nil would have been so much better.
    Now Mitch while Gutherson had a very good game I question his thinking as a captain.
    Parra are up 34 points to Nil with a penalty almost in front. What was he thinking when he looked for another try?
    The Storm would have taken two points. What happened, they went for a try and Mahoney gets hurt. Not that Gutherson would have seen this coming but, 34 to nil – penalty goal – why not?
    The team gets a rest for a minute or two and then they get the ball back to roll it back up the field with a key forward missing.
    What happens Mahoney gets hurt – Newcastle get the ball and work their way down field and thirty tackles later they score.
    Going for a try 34 up with two points on immediate offer would have been the logical choice. Why does he do that – so many times. It highlights their impatience.
    Mr Sixties should have a word in someone’s ear. Gutherson rounded down to a B minus.
    The other concerns Tom Opacic – you never drop the ball over line – why? Don’t care about the punch out – you hold like your saying good bye to a very close friend.

    And Parra has to be the worse team for losing tries to obstruction. Is this a team problem or a coaching problem?

    Other than those things it was a great win and the team worked very well together. So nice to see them not hunting a try for Ferguson.

    1. Fisho

      , chrikey ifs not easy nrl footy you know , everything were trying to do an opponent of equal ability is trying to prevent it , we lose people whinge ,we win people whinge , let newcastle fans do the whingeing , the only points that really matter are two competition ladder points , i thought we got them .

      1. Zero58

        I do believe you are missing my point.
        Why not take two in front and come back for more. They were 34 up and now we have an injured player that might have been avoided.

    2. Anonymous

      30 tackles later , wow lets not even pass a ball . If they dont have a go people bag them and if they do have a go same people still complain.everyone knows better .

      1. Anonymous

        Best coaches are the media , not much they dont know , me im old school, play footy , funny thats what players and most coaches want to do its the couch coaches that dont get it,

      2. Zero58

        I was using hyperbole. You too are missing my point.
        I am excited about the win as with all their wins. I am disappointed we let them score when for 70 minutes they couldn’t.
        And who would not be upset with Mahoneys injury that might have been avoided by taking two points.
        It showed leadership immaturity. Kick the goal, they get the ball back and roll up field. They are down a key forward.
        The Storm take every point they can.
        34 – nil. Have a rest for a minute while lining up and back in to it. That is really so simple even sensitive critics can get it.
        Mahoney gets hurt, they spend whatever number of tackles down the other end and score.
        I think some really need to read better.

    3. mitch Post author

      Sorry Zero, completely disagree. Going for two in that circumstance would have been the clear wrong choice, you attack for maximum points against a 12 man defensive side and don’t waste time taking the two when up by 30+.

      Completely disagree.

      1. Zero58

        Well Mitch even you surprise me.
        So getting a quick two points was out of the question. Really???
        Did they get another six points? No!!
        They get the ball from the kick off and head back up field and possibly score again with them being a man short. 34 to nil that should have kicked and come back.
        The end result Mahoney got hurt pushing play to score a try.
        No Mitch it was a very poor choice.
        No actually it was stupid.
        Sorry mate but that is obvious.

        1. mitch Post author

          This is one of the more ridiculous arguments I’ve ever had. Particularly you using Reed’s random injury as evidence.

          Again, it was the right choice to go for the try against twelve men. Kicking for goal when up by 34 is the wrong choice, even more so against twelve men.

    4. Billy

      No, you don’t take the two when you’re all over them and they’re a man down. You attempt to put/keep your foot on their throat. Jusr because that didn’t turn out the way we wanted doesn’t make it the wrong decision. A random injury even less so.

        1. Poppa

          Well Mitch you are right on this one, even I can’t find fault with your argument …LOL
          Gee you have some “dopey bastards” notwithstanding.

  10. DDay

    Good write-up Mitch. 5 As is a huge improvement on recent games particularly considering Lane, Matterson, Dylan and Waqa probably notched up their 1st A for the season.
    Hoping the Knights have played us into form

  11. Nicole

    Fantastic read as always! Love your sense of humour. Full credit to BA & our boys for that performance! Loved watching the game & loved seeing Dylan Brown, Moses, Gutho & Matto in fine form!!
    In relation to the home run, I agree it’s close to the toughest draw we could get. Perhaps going into finals footy being very used to playing tough will be good for us??? I’m not sure.

  12. Anonymous

    I think you should start to add in a grade for our one and only BA, for game plan, set plays, use of bench players etc and most importantly mental preparedness of the players, for the big games against top 6 teams. I think that would be very interesting to track throughout the year! What do you think?

    1. mitch Post author

      Sixties doesn’t write this article, Anon. I do.

      I appreciate you suggesting the idea though.

    2. sixties

      Anonymous, the problem with grading any coach is not knowing what the game plan is. You can make assumptions based on what you see, but it’s only an uninformed assumption. I’ve been privy to match plans, opposition analysis and tip sheets at junior Rep level and there’s no way I would have known the depth of planning from just watching the game.

  13. Billy

    To the person who has systematically gone through and given a thumbs down to every comment from Mitch on this post, just because he had the temerity to disagree with you – get a grip and grow up. It’s pretty obvious who you are, and you’re just making yourself look silly(er).

      1. Poppa

        I think it is difficult to criticise people if you do so under the guise of Anonymous.
        Rest assured my commentary is not personal Mitch, just direct and with a view.

          1. Anonymous

            Exactly, see even then you had the brains to differentiate between two versions of Poppa/Popper, now the fact you can’t do that with Anonymous should be a simple answer for a simpleton!

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