The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 14 vs Tigers


Parramatta Eels 40

Wests Tigers 12


The Eels came into today’s clash with the Wests Tigers winning their last past six games, with Maguire’s men not having won three in a row since 2018, or any time since Maguire has been their coach. That statistic will extend a little bit longer as the Parramatta Eels made it 7 straight against the Tigers, and no doubt Maguire’s beard a little greyer.

The Eels scored 40 points for the second week in a row, and aside from a couple of loose handling errors, the Eels’ first half 30 minutes or so was actually quite clinical, turning the screws on an exhausted Tigers defensive line, finding gaps through some relatively feeble defence. The Eels looked to be sailing confidently for another victory, further cementing themselves in a Top 4 ladder position.

Well, that was until Mitch Moses dropped the ball in a premium try scoring situation. Jacob Liddle (both the Tigers best and worst player) took full advantage to turn what would have been a 20-0 halftime scoreline into a 14-6 contest.

Thankfully it wasn’t to be for the fans of the split personality merger, and despite some early second 40 jitters, the Eels managed to turn the tide back in their favour where it matters, blowing the Tigers away in the first 10 minutes of the half. Tries to Waqa Blake, Mitch Moses and Maika Sivo took the game beyond their opposition’s reach and (as far as the game was concerned) that was all she wrote.


Away from the scoreboard, however, it was a different story.

The Eels certainly allowed the Wests Tigers to get under their skin in the last 10 minutes, and might yet pay the price. First RCG copped an outrageous (how was that not a penalty?) elbow from Tom Amone, then Isaiah Papali’i inexplicably dropped a knee into Luciano Leilua’s head. Combined with a deserving sin bin from Sivo (send off under the new rules, I would have thought?), the Eels were not as composed as you might hope for from a team hoping to go all the way in 2021.

The Eels will also not be pleased with the 12 points in the Against column, with neither Tigers try particularly crafted, but instead invited by either an Eels error or sin binning.

Finally, although likely that we avoided serious injuries, it was quite the battlefield out there at Bankwest today, with both teams copping a series of HIAs and assorted injuries. Hope everyone pulls up alright and is ready for Round 15.


As for the game itself, the Eels had 51% of possession, completed 77% of their sets (37/48), had close to a million more metres than the Tigers (2471 to 1744), and spent more than a quarter of the game attacking the Tigers’ 20 metre zone. The Good Guys also had 15 offloads to the Tigers’ 10, and had an incredible 45 tacklebreaks (to the Tigers’ 18).

I’m never one to bag the refs, but I must add that official Grant Atkins did not have a great day at the office, getting overruled by Captain’s Challenges left, right and centre, as well as letting the game get away from his control in the closing stages; just one for him to reflect and improve on.


I’ll tell you straight up, Isaiah Papali’i had it lock, stock and barrel before dropping his knee into an opponent’s head; hopefully the Ice King avoids attention from the Match Review Committee.

As such, I need to give it to the second best player on the field this afternoon; and in my opinion that was some bloke called Mitchell Moses. Although he had his own gameplay demons (just put the ball down, mate), his game management, kicking game (8 for 366m), accuracy off the boot (8 from 8) and incredible running metres (6 for 166m) were off the charts.

The Prince of Egypt – this afternoon’s Post Game Grades MVP.




Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Gutho’s first four pointer this afternoon was The King’s 11th try for Season 2021, remarkably tying his all time single season record for tries in a season, before breaking that record in the 58th minute. I’m no Nostradamus (I leave that to Sixties), but injuries aside I anticipate he’ll further pass that total in the coming weeks.

In other news, two successful Captain’s Challenges in one game? What a crazy world this is.

Along with his 2 tries, the Artist Formerly Known As Lemon also had 13 runs for 149m, 3 linebreaks and 7 tackle breaks. As far as I could tell, Brad Arthur saw the double barrelled Gutherino after his second try and immediately subbed him off. In this regard, I fully support the coach’s decision.



Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

It seemed there was a bit of trouble getting big Maika the ball early in the game, on two occasions the Tigers forced Gutho to go short to Waqa, leaving Sivo to politely wave as the ball stayed inside him. Then, when given an opportunity with the ball, Sivo unceremoniously gifted the Tigers an attacking opportunity with a completely unforced error. On one hand his stellar back up play on his try made amends for the ultimately unpunished error (as did the 12 runs for 124m, an offload and 5 tackle breaks), but his late game high tackle certainly deserved his 10 minute hiatus from the field of play (and probably more).



Tom Opacic

3 – Right Centre

Ugh, the grubber was tough to take, but I would have loved for Honest Tom to score another four pointer. Elsewhere I thought he was very solid in defence (17 tackles) and once again more than handy in attack (14 runs for a very respectable 149m, a linebreak and 4 tackle breaks).

Obviously I remember the aforementioned grubber fumble, but I was still surprised to see a team high 4 errors next to his name.


Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

The big fella had a great defusal of an early attacking kick, made his tackles (8), ran particularly well (15 for 169m, 5 tackle breaks) and scored a try.

It’s admittedly early days, but from what I’ve seen so far, I straight up love him on the left. Waqa Blake finding any sort of consistency is an absolute diamond for the Blue & Gold.


Haze Dunster

5 – Right Wing

Although the running metres weren’t there this week (7 runs for 60m), Haze Dunster hasn’t let anyone down again this week, on either side of the ball. I’ll be very surprised if he’s not named by BA to play NRL again on Tuesday.



Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

After making an early linebreak, Dylan Brown seemed to disappear from the coverage for the rest of the half until he put in a less than ideal clearing kick, and a well intentioned but ultimately ill-fated grubber for Tom Opacic. Although he didn’t rise to the heights of his comeback affair against the Knights, Dylan was still quite solid with 10 runs for 88m, 1 linebreak, 4 tacklebreaks and 22 tackles.



Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

With his first kick at goal today, Mitch Moses surpassed 800 career points, doing so against his former club. Mitch’s first half went downhill pretty quickly after that with the wildly unfortunately/clumsy dropped ball off a clever Gutho kick. However, The Prince of Egypt went absolutely ballistic in the first 20 of the second half, scoring one and setting up another two tries to completely blow the game away from the Tigers’ reach.

Mitchell Moses now has an 89% win rate against his form club, a pretty tidy result from a player they were happy to let go and who much of the Tigers’ fanbase still pines over like a jilted ex-lover. I also didn’t mind seeing him go off at Gutho, who was in complete control of the situation and no doubt too appreciates his halfback’s passion to win.




8 – Front Row

After watching the hunger with which he pursued both Tom Amone and James Tamou, I have reason to believe RCG is a cannibal. Hannibal Lector-Gillard had 16 runs for 139m, 3 tackle breaks and 22 tackles in his 54 minutes of game time tonight; he also made several Tigers players soil their shorts.


Joey Lussick

9 – Hooker

As the man anointed to fill the gargantuan headgear of Reed Mahoney, Joey Lussick made his tackles (48 of them), passed the ball crisply (106 times) and had 4 runs for 37 metres; one of which ended up a four pointer.

If you were hoping for more than that from a backup hooker, your expectations are much too high. Joey will play in the 9 jersey again for the Eels next week, and I don’t imagine he’ll be letting anyone down.



Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

I was surprised to see Junior get through as many minutes as he did this afternoon (37) after backing up from Origin, but BA put him to work and as he did for the Blues on Wednesday night, the big fella once again delivered. This afternoon it was 10 runs for 72 metres, 1 tacklebreak and 19 tackles, but it was the offloads (3) that really put the Tigers on the backfoot, with one leading to a try, and another to a nice little linebreak.

Backing up from the fiercest Rugby League contest known to man just so he could take it to our little brother on our home turf? Junior Paulo a bad, bad man. He’s the reason the dinosaurs are extinct.


Isaiah Papali’i

11 – Second Row

I just spoke to the boys in the lab and getting unnecessarily sent to the bin for 10 minutes is suboptimal.

Oh what could have been.

On track for an A grade, Isaiah Papali’i threw it all away in a moment of madness. Some are attempting to argue it was accidental or part of the tackle process, but it looked pretty intentional to me, a payback of sorts for the RCG scuffle in the previous tackle. Ice Papa had 4 of his game high 9 tackle breaks in one bullocking run that set up the Eels’ first try, adding 15 runs for 141 metres, 4 offloads, 2 linebreak assists and 29 tackles to his tallly.


Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

I didn’t enjoy the dropped ball to open the second half, and I must say enjoyed it even less once Matto insisted we send up an ultimately doomed Captain’s Challenge. I was worried about Matto’s ability to come back from his lengthy concussion lay off, but he has been in pretty good form, and once again performed admirably (16 for 137m, 1 linebreak assist, 3 tacklebreaks, 21 tackles) against his former side.


Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

Who tied Mitchell Moses for the most try assists in the game? Your favourite cybernetic organism, that’s who.

Sure, the high tackle and forward pass one-two punch was a less than ideal start to the game for Nathan Brown, but his offload to Clint Gutherson for the Eels’ first was absolutely sublime. Browny also had a team-high 19 runs for 159 metres, constantly probing behind the ruck to find tiring defenders, two linebreak assists, a tacklebreak and 29 tackles.


Marata Niukore

14 – Interchange

The centre turned edge turned middle ran 6 times for 76 metres, had a tackle break and made 22 tackles. Marata Niukore; played strong, done good.


Shaun Lane

15 – Interchange

There were a few moments that felt like potential turning points against the Eels, the Moses drop was the obvious one, but Shaun Lane’s first tackle strip after the Tigers lost Blore for 10 minutes could have been an absolute disaster. Otherwise it was once again a pretty great game from your mate Off The Bench Lane, running an excellent 117 metres from his 13 hitups, adding a linebreak assist and 24 tackles. I’d still like to see him push harder from the inside in defence when the opposition spreads the ball (in other words, work harder off the ball), but otherwise it seems BA has found a nice groove from Straight and Narrow.

Despite the aforementioned minor hiccup, Penny Lane is once again in my ears and in my eyes.



Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Only 19 minutes of game time for Big Country this afternoon, resulting in a relatively paltry 3 runs for 35 metres. That’s a good ratio but still a reserved output from a man who evidently wasn’t needed a great deal this afternoon.



Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

I’m starting to think I’m going to regret Waqa Blake’s try last week off a Cartwright grubber; Bryce really shouldn’t be thinking kick at any point, a point demonstrated by a very average attempt midway through the second half of proceedings this afternoon. Big mate, let’s keep it simple from now on: in any given situation you can choose between run, run, run or run.

And for good reason too, as elsewhere it was a very respectable 5 runs for 59m, and 7 tackles.

I mean, let’s just keep it simple, Carty.



It feels good to notch up our 7th straight victory over the Wests Tigers, and roll back into 3rd place, only two competition points shy of 1st on the NRL Ladder.

In other news, is there a nicer bloke on Twitter than @TheBiggestTiger? I doubt it.

Next week the Eels face the hapless Dogs, one of the games that good teams always need to find a way to win. It hasn’t always been easy for the Eels against Canterbury in recent seasons, so here’s hoping it’s drama free next Sunday afternoon.

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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26 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 14 vs Tigers

  1. Colin Hussey

    If todays game is anything to go by, methinks that the game is getting more brutal in many ways, the niggles from both sides are intense and the rest of the year is not going to get any softer either. A VG win by any count or standard, and as we turn in mid point of the season, its going to be hard and tough.

    I’m pleased to see how Haze went today, it was nothing spectacular when all is said and done, he was however reliable and with the defense and speed debates that surrounds him from certain quarters, he showed enough in speed to catch most of the attack on his side, that he had to turn and chase. His defence and reading of the game was also vg, he did not let the team down and he worked well with his inside centre in Opi, both knew when to come in and to reset their positions in the defence line, he can really only get better the more he plays in the top side.

    Watching the game on the box/Kayo, I have to give our match day official in the middle a bit of a wrap, I am usually not a fan of Atkins as a ref, but today I thought he handled the game in a display that was the best I have seen from him. His over ruled calls that were sent to the bunker were good and fair, and that applied to both sides.

  2. Milo

    Good win allround, and yes somewhat messy. The game has become too fast in my view and the constant meddling wiht the rules has made players, coaches and fans grow tired of it. Sivo should not have a case to answer for as the wests player dropped leaving Sivo nowhere to move his arms / body and slow motion shows this more and more. The game has become a true farce i am afraid. Alas we roll on…..
    Papaali was just stupid…spoilt himself.
    We just need to be ready for the tough road trips and home games coming up as it will not be pretty……are we good enough? I have no idea. We have a chance to cement our top 4 spot over the coming weeks and also show the fans and other teams we are the real deel….

    1. Anonymous

      Easy to be critical when your not out there facing the heat , me im glad we stuck up for ourselves , sent the message We wont be pushed around !!

      1. Milo

        Thanks mate and its my point of view Anon, but cheers. Use of knee has always been a poor act in my book bud however much the force used.
        BA was not overly happy either.

        1. Anonymous

          Not condoning mate but still say its reactional not intentional unlike like the elbow to parra players head on the ground unprotected , tigers went cheap shots for last 15 min and atkins let it happen but agree not needed in game , unless your munster 😇

          1. Milo

            No worries mate, my point was he did not have to do it nor need to. Cameras etc. is way too risky.If we were down 2 players against a Melb / Penrith etc we would have been in strife.
            I go back to the Parra team of the late 90’s when we absolutely belted Norths in a minor semi at Parra. I was there and we brutally bashed them with defence. That is what i would rather see and I see your point.
            Munster is a joke….and the same with the MRC.

  3. Offside

    Interesting useless bit of info Sivos try today was his 1st try not scored within 15 meters of the sideline.

    Can’t disagree with the grades

      1. Big roy

        We all got that wrong inc me but not BA thankfully , fergo has been terrible since 1st season and weve swapped players to often to accomodate him , its all over end of 21 thankfully ,

  4. Bensville Darren

    Mitch I’m interested in your opinion on the new Waqa Blake? Is it that since Fergo was dropped he has been put on notice or was there a compatibility problem between the two? Maybe the Fergo axing was just coincidence and Waqa’s recent form would have shone through regardless. He and Dunster slide well in defence and already seem to have an understanding. Have any issues been masked because the last two games were against weaker opposition? Perhaps I’m looking through rose coloured glasses but he hasn’t been a defensive liability lately and he looks really strong on the ball.

      1. Colin Hussey

        The original Fergs in first year was his best, since then its been slide downhill, or maybe uphill as his abilities to complete slowed down in a big way. While I have been a critic of him for much of last year and this year, its always sad to see a player who in his prime start the downhill slide, I believe the club saw that he was not going to get a new contract, and the inevital test that BA put to him with swapping sides with our centres showed it was not the fault of Waqa in jamming in, and leaving the wing open.

        Bringing in Haze, has brought some life back to the 5 spot, he & Opi can be seen working together and keeping a good contact read by them both. Haze is still learning, but I do see a future for him in the team.

        I watched the NSWcup highlights the week before where I believe that Fergs scored a try, he was like the hunchback of Notre Dam his body bent over and his head leading, I cannot reccolect any player, except maybe Tedesco who runs in a similar or same way.

  5. Glenn

    Good report as usual Mitch. Very pleased with the defence today, although W-T are not a team you’d use as a benchmark to test your defence, we covered the edges generally with ease. Tough run coming up so best to get our D in order before we meet them with these weaker teams. Looking forward to a clean sheet next week.

  6. Dday

    A solid win, agree with your 3 As.
    Seems the intensity was down in the defensive line and in rucking it out of our end. But we stuck to the game plan to attack the Tigers RHS and played comfortably within our ability.
    The eels easily won the metres game so dominated without being dominant. The backs really chewed thru the meters – great to see their contribution (normally reliant on the forwards).
    I didn’t like the balance of the bench today with kaufusi and Cartwright barely used, will smith should have been there to cover lussick who tired and Gutho’s early shower.
    Onto the Doggies next week.

  7. Mr controversy aka the re

    Great grades except for dunster i think he was great in defense n ran the ball back strongly he should have a B+.

    What a great game yet again a few point’s left on the field Moses n opicac bombed tries.

    I was shock but not surprised that sivo n papali’i went for 10. Don’t see sivo getting any time off just a fine at best I’d say.

    Papali’i on the other hand I’m thinking 2 weeks.

    The rest should be fine. The Brooks tackle should be looking at 3 week’s.

    On the score i was close.

    On the tiger’s i think we can silence them with a big score. We will score 42 tiger’s 6
    I copied n paste from another post on tct

    1. Poppa

      I think you will find Sivo will get at least two weeks. I am hoping for one only for Pappallii but I suspect it will be 2.
      I know one thing we cannot afford to not have Papallii on deck for Penrith.

  8. Mr controversy aka the re

    Oh another thing i forgot to say is is Jr Paulo not playing well atm. His got owned by tamoua in a 1 on 1 tackle.

    His not offloading the ball as much.

    Maybe he needs a rest but in saying that 2 weeks time the whole team get’s a break.

    On fergo i think his still playing ok just needed Marata inside of him. But with everyone on deck his time in 1st grade is limited.

    1. BDon

      I just have a simple plan for Junior, work on leg speed, run hard first. He seems to be making an assessment of what’s in front of him first, good for potential step and/or offload but not good for metres and aggression. Then again, it’s not me getting belted by middle monsters. Take a video of Marata home with him.

      1. Mr controversy aka the re

        I agree with you offside. His running metres are down well his offloading is down. Id go as far as say that RCG is our #1 prop atm.

  9. Clive

    Good performance overall and great for our for and against.
    The Papalli knee incident will be interesting. Munster kicks someone and gets a fine despite have prior form of similar incidents so based on that Papalli should get no more that a fine. Then again we all know Melbourne have different rules to everyone else.

  10. BDon

    Yes, Moses and Papa standouts. Lussick was a real sleeper, his play had competence written all over it. The forwards look like they’ve had some run hard advice from the coach, let’s see if that can be sustained into the teams that cut down space and time. A couple of times we looked thin out wide, but mostly inside defenders stayed alive and scrambled well, D Brown usually prominent.

  11. Matthew Sweeney

    Thanks for the write up. If I had not seen the game and only read your appraisal of Guthos efforts i would have given him an A. Having seen your appraisal and seen the game I give him an A. Maybe we get a little Blaise with our king.

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