The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 15 vs Bulldogs


Parramatta Eels 36

Canterbury Bulldogs 10


Well, the second half, really.

I bet those at the southern end of Bankwest thought they would be in the prime seats for a spectacle when Matterson went over after only 7 minutes. Unfortunately for those souls it would be the only try scored at the end for the entire game, with almost the entire game played at the other end of the park.

The Eels won the second half with a squeaky clean 30-0 lockout, spending the 40 minutes how many thought it would look for 80. It was also good to see a couple of debutants (club or NRL) out there for their first taste of NRL action, neither should feel they made anything but a first of their first time in the Blue & Gold.

It was good to see the Eels changed their approach come the second half, locking up the ball, spending most of their time in the middle and really acknowledging the conditions with some sensible wet weather football.

That it took us 40 minutes to figure it out? Less than ideal.


The Eels completed at a pathetic 65% in the first half (88% in the second, for comparison) and effectively invited the Bulldogs to make a contest of it in the wet. Coupled with Marata’s sin binning (and gifting the Dogs 57% of the ball) it was actually an indictment on the Dogs’ attack they couldn’t squeeze more than 10 points from the scoreboard in the first 40. Then again, it was exactly what Eels fans have come to expect from the Dogs in recent seasons, a dirty down in the mud and push you to the edge sort of game, akin to the Gallen led Sharks teams of the 2010s. In the first half, we did not respond well.

In fact, unless you missed the game entirely or you’re on the Eels coaching staff (what the hell are you reading this trash for?), there’s no need to watch the last thirty minutes of the first half.


More a product of the nature of the NRL rule changes in 2021, rather than any sort of inadequacy from the man in the middle, the officiating was (let’s just say) interesting this afternoon. Not only were the Dogs constantly up nice and quick, it seems they were frequently starting their defensive line well in front of the ref. In fact, Checcin was waving his arms so much trying to get the Dogs onside Sixties remarked he looked like he was out there doing breast stroke.

To add to this, the state of the ruck was also pretty wild, with the Dogs spending so much time in the ruck they considered renovating


If you were watching the game this afternoon and gave your respective Best on Ground Award to anyone but Isaiah Papali’i, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. He was like a man amongst boys out there at Bankwest, breaking an incredible 9 tackles, and running 19 times for an absolutely stupefying 220m.

He wasn’t just best on ground, he was likely the best performing player for the whole round, period.

You the MVP, Ice. You the MVP.




Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

I must say people often see the game differently to me when I’m sitting in the stands, but I thought Gutho looked a bit off for most of the afternoon. Granted, he still had a pretty incredible stat line at the end of 80 minutes (22 runs for 183m, a linebreak, a linebreak assist, 2 two assists and 3 tackle breaks), but it really didn’t look like his best game out there until the last 10 minutes or so.

Disagree? Come at me in the comments below.



Sean Russell

2 – Left Wing

Two tries on debut for another Parramatta junior rolling off the production line? You absolutely love to see it.

I must say, it is so unusual seeing both Sean Russell in our first grade side, particularly when he’s on the opposite wing to Haze Dunster, leaping for kicks off the boot of Dylan Brown and being watched from the stands by Reed Mahoney and Oregon Kaufusi. The reason I say this is because I thought I read on a number of fan forums and Facebook sites that Brad Arthur never plays juniors. Weird.

Other than the tries, as far as his debut 80 minutes went Sean Russell had a solid game (13 runs, 104m, a linebreak, a linebreak assist and 5 tackles), including an early chance in the first half where he found himself one on one with his opposite man. Unfortunately in this instance Sean effectively stepped himself into oblivion. Nonetheless, first game nerves wouldn’t deny him in the second half, crossing twice in front of his pack of mates. Just the absolute best of areas from an NRL debutant. Well played, young man.



Tom Opacic

3 – Right Centre

You won’t be surprised to learn that at halftime, his 3 first half errors had me doubting Thomas. It was as if someone had been whispering ‘Maroon debut’ in Opacic’s ear, although based on how Qld performed in Game I, maybe that’s exactly what Paul Green is looking for.

To continue the trend of his less than stellar afternoon, I also snapped this shot of Tom standing at the 48m line ready to receive the kick off after an Eels four point, prompting seasoned vet Haze Dunster to inform him that he was standing in the wrong spot. Maybe Tom just wasn’t in the right headspace today.

Thankfully it was a much noteworthy second 40 from Opa, ending the game with 6 runs for 54m, 1 offload and 12 tackles. He’ll be back in better form next time we play; and he’ll need to be, too, lining up against the lethal left edge of the high flying Penrith Panthers.


Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

With one of the worst passes you’ve ever seen, the first half was screaming the return of the Waqa jitters, and heralded the first poor game from Baby Giraffe since his move to the left edge. I can’t say it got all that much better in the second half, either with Waqa ending up with 13 runs for 67m (not a misprint), one offload and 2 tackle breaks.

Maybe we should all just try again next time.


Haze Dunster

5 – Right Wing

There was a two minute period in the second 40 which left my Haze loving heart in my throat. After forcing a post line break pass that was clearly not on, Dunster thought it best to let a kick bounce before juggling it a moment before getting smashed. Evidently the ghost of Blake Ferguson still haunts the right wing.

However, like most of his teammates, Haze had a solid game overall (8 runs for 85m, 1 linebreak, 3 tackle breaks). Although to obscene running metres aren’t there, Haze once again gave BA little reason to consider rolling the dice with Fergo again (sorry, Moonburn).



Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

To me, it felt like every good Dylan Brown moment today was followed up with a shocker. For example, an early clever kick by to force a drop out was undone by a cold drop on his next touch, or a brilliant cover tackle coming just before a momentum killing grubber that was easily covered up by the Dogs’ defender. I like the amount of times he took the line on (14 for 99m, a linebreak assist and tackle break), but to me he seemed to return to the indecisive Dylan we saw pre-suspension.

With that said, I’m nowhere near worried. Not unlike his halves partner at a similar stage of this career, even at his young age it is already clear that talent is not and will never be the issue; the quality of Dylan’s overall game will rest on him finding a way to put all his talents to work week in, week out.



Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Although it was Mitch’s (clear as day) penalty try to kickstart the Eels’ comeback, based on his dropped ball against his former club last week, I guess there really was no guarantee that Moses would have scored the wide open put down in front of him; thankfully the rules mean we didn’t have to worry. Elsewhere the Prince of Egypt had 7 runs for 62m (got smashed for his trouble on a couple of occasions), a try assist, 4 tackle breaks and was only a metre short of 500 kicking metres. Not a bad day out.

Little known fact: both Mitchell Moses and Nick Meaney are both played by the same actor.




8 – Front Row

Heck yes, big fella.


Joey Lussick

9 – Hooker

After a clever second half dart from the ruck, I thought Joey Lussick might earn himself another sneaky four pointer, further burying his brother’s paltry try scoring record. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The man keeping Reed Mahoney’s jersey warm filled in admirably once again this afternoon with 3 runs for 25m, 101 crisp passes and 39 tackles.

You keep on keeping on, Joe.



Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Other than Laney’s show and go, was there a prettier moment this afternoon than the Junior to RCG try? Like a spectator at a sumo contest, I must confess I love it when a couple of big boys come together. Elsewhere the big unit had 11 runs for 82m, 1 linebreak assist, 1 try assist, an offload and 22 tackles.


Isaiah Papali’i

11 – Second Row

For someone who came within an iota of suspension this week for a late game brain explosion, today Isaiah Papali’i seemed intent on making up for lost admirers. All I’ll add to the above is that Ice had more post contact metres (106) today than all but one of the Bulldogs’ forwards had metres. Do with that what you will.

Ps – Oh look, an A+. You don’t see that very often.


Ryan Matterson

12 – Second Row

Tell it to me straight – if he didn’t score the first four pointer of the afternoon, would you really have noticed Ryan Matterson out there today? I mean he made some tackles (33), but didn’t do a great deal in attack (6 runs for 51m), in either half.


Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

Have another hit up, will you Browny? Bettered in number by only the MVP, Cyborg hit the ball up for a massive 17 times for 147m, also adding a tackle break and 42 tackles. Seems that at the line ball to a rampaging forward also worked a treat as recipient Shaun Lane streaked into the backfield and dummied his way to a four pointer.

Maybe not one for the ages, but nonetheless vintage Nathan Brown.


Marata Niukore

14 – Interchange

Put a line through your Tuesday night plans, Marata. Seems you’ve got yourself another date with NRL Judiciary. Let the record show that the counter showing Niukore’s time in the sin bin also continued after the halftime siren; seems we stole about 40 seconds of time of his 10 minutes and I’m here to tell you we’re not giving it back.


Shaun Lane

15 – Interchange

I’ve actually been back on the Lane bandwagon since he moved into the middle, but watching Shaun Lane allow the ball to be squeezed from his grasp like a bar of soap brought back some nightmarish memories of games gone by. He certainly made up for it with a pretty line run and safe hands to not only hold onto the aforementioned Nathan Brown faceball, he showed good instinct in throwing the dummy and nabbing the try himself.

Needless to say, with a full time siren total of 14 runs for a 177m, a tackle break and 28 tackles, I’m back on the bandwagon once again.



Keegan Hipgrave

16 – Interchange

Stay woke people; Big Keegan’s undefeated NRL streak has now stretched out to 8-0 for Season 2021.

He simply cannot and will not be stopped.



Nathaniel Roache

17 – Interchange

Here’s hoping the reported knee injury is nothing serious for Roachey, particularly as he’s fought so hard to get back to full health and was finally getting a glimpse of NRL football again. In the game itself I would have liked to see Nathaniel get out and show his weapon-like running game a bit more, but to be fair the slow ruck and wet track didn’t exactly favour his game (2 runs for 12m, 18 tackles without a miss).



Well we did it, we stole four points from the Dogs again and will not have to play them again until the calendar reads 2022. How good.

With the upcoming universal bye, it will be a couple of weeks before Grades is back on your radar, so all the best to all those who read and comment.

Next up for the boys in Blue & Gold is the almighty, borderline unstoppable Penrith Panthers; a team that hasn’t been beaten at full strength in the regular season since 1937.

Bring it on.

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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24 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 15 vs Bulldogs

  1. Anonymous

    The dogs trainer is the mom with his stoppage, that turned the game when dogs were on attack

  2. David Smiles

    I think the doggies had a pretty good handle on gutho for most of the game, he’s still great though

  3. Oscar Rebolledo

    I’m with you on the Gutho performance. I found myself yelling his name in frustration more than once during the game. He seemed to be making all the wrong choices in attack. Although I feel he made up for it in the last 20 minutes and was back to his best.

  4. BDon

    No doubt on the MVP. I liked the moment when Moses took the tap 40 mtrs out instead of kicking for the line. Thanks for that Mitch say the forwards, but first receiver Papa just barges 25 mtrs downfield…to right about where we should have been. Everyone happy, sorted.

  5. Shaun

    The first half was frustrating. But the Dogs really didn’t have anything much to offer in attack. If the Eels held the ball they would be right which is how it turned out. As BA mentioned they had a plan for this three game block and got the wins. I’m actually looking forward to the Penrith game now. It will be a tough ask but hoping the team can shut up the critics.

    1. John Eel

      They did it last year. It was one of the best examples of the Eels following BA’s game plan in a match.

      They have shown glimpses of that form since and if they can starve Panthers of a bit of ball they can do it again

      1. Shaun

        Yes. Possession will be the key and will be not losing someone to the sin bin. It will be a good game.

  6. John Eel

    Mitch has not missed a shot at goal since Rd 13 where he kicked 4 from 8

    PS: Mitch I am guessing that MM will not be happy with your comparison to Meaney

    1. poppa

      I have to take you back to something a little bit more rudimentary Mitch, Its nice to encourage the kids, but this is real football not park.
      Rating Gutho as a B minus and Moses B, then giving Sean Russell B plus because he ran the ball over the line says to me, you see what you want to see. The lead up work done by Moses and Guth far outweighed who gets their name in the scorebook.
      The reality is these two kids Russell and Dunster are disasters waiting to happen, you saw signs of it yesterday. If he takes these kids in against the better sides they will be eaten alive. Yes, they are adequate finishers and they may have some potential, but they bring nothing to the table. reality is that our two centres have not constructed a try for a winger all season, we need our wingers therefore to add metres to the team and finish accordingly. Waqar Blake’s ability to constructively play as a centre three quarter is beyond the pale! I actually don’t think he knows how to pass the ball. Let alone position a winger. Both tries scored by Russell yesterday were indirectly and directly from Moses and Guth’s work……good luck to the kid, but lets not lose sight of reality.
      PS On the subject of young players, I was reasonably impressed with Jake Arthur’s game when he first came up, after that was pretty ordinary. Looking at him in Reggies yesterday, he was awful, gone backwards? Anyone else have a view on that?

      1. Gustarny

        Have to agree on your opinion re Jacob yesterday I actually thought the 11 Hazeem was one of our best in that game.I’m not sure if I agree on your judgement of the wingers though.

      2. Popper

        18year olds and theyve allready achieved more than you in life , they wont always be 18 but you will always be a nobody !!

      3. Ploppa

        Lol BA said Russell was only in for 1 week for the suspended Sivo so he won’t be up against the better teams, get all the facts before you post anything.

        And that was 1 game of Jake’s you saw. You must be one of those people that only watch on tele, and even then everybody could see that the service from dummy half is what crippled the halves pairing in that game. From the 1st minute to the final minute the service was a shocker. Look at how both halves have performed when they’ve had either Lussick or Roache, they’re usually 2 of the best on the field.

        1. Poppa

          The fact is I live in Brisbane (born in Parra and a Parra supporter forever, probably seen more games than you have had breakfasts), so yes I do see them on TV, didn’t realise it was such a disadvantage? Actually at my age I probably see a lot more. You are entitled to what ever opinion you have, as I do in turn as well.
          What I don’t do though is hide behind someone else’s name, after all I could be talking to a moron and never know. My opinions come with my name, I am happy to engage same if you have the same courage…. LOL

          1. Ploppa

            It’s a disadvantage because you only see him when he’s on tele. I go to the grounds and watch him almost weekly. He had a bad game, as did Rankin. Both of them have been standouts so far this year in a team running 2nd. What’s the difference between the game against Mounties and all the other games he’s played? The dummy half. So instead of going on about how a 19 year old player has “regressed” how about looking at the factors that surround why a certain player or players had an off game. Or go on being negative just because he’s had 1 bad game, I’ll be out there supporting the young man on his way to becoming a regular first grade player.

            My real name is Ploppa, it’s on my birth certificate. If you were of real courage you would put up your full name and address. I doubt you will.

          2. Poppa

            Well Mr Ploppa, I looked in the telephone book and it looks like your a Ploppa short, seriously my point with JA was based on his ineffective and short kicking game and not once running the ball to the line. The service from Will Smith was not in terms of my critique of him. He looks like he may have lost confidence which was brought about “maybe” by playing him against Souths, a huge mistake IMO. I also was not that critical of Rankin’s game, so I didn’t see it as a halves carve up. JA is 18 and I believe he is going through the physical changes that will make or break him as a player, ie. he will develop pace very quickly (look next season) or he will remain at his current level. I hope BA sees the dangers in playing young players too early i.e. I do not believe that Mahoney and Brown were blooded too young because they had so much natural ability. So its a thing that I have experienced in coaching young players and take particular note of. I have some background in sports coaching and once received an Australian Sports Medal for my contributions.

          3. Ploppa

            Guess we’ll have to wait and see if Arthur has “lost confidence”. I’ll be able to know cause I’ll be going to reserve grade games, and I’ll be bringing my 2 Australian Sports Medals with me. Meanwhile you’ll be staring at the television hoping that the Eels are on so you can tear down the young man again.

          4. Poppa

            I now realise I am talking to a fool, sorry I wasted both of our time.Look up Australian Sports Medal and you will understand they are a generalised award for services given/provided….they are not to say how good you are. Please don’t engage me again.

  7. Wilhelmina

    Ice was definitely my MOM, he was just in beast mode. Lane’s run to the line was more bambi mode, but that dummy had me laughing out loud. Prop is clearly his best position now.

    I think you’re a little hard on Gutho when you take his defence into account – those one on one try-savers are pretty special. But yes, some wrong options all round in attack in that first half.

    Was it BA’s presser where there was a comment about the boys trying hard to get Russell a try? Some of the first half did feel a bit like last year, where they were trying so hard to get Fergo an opportunity that it was stifling the attack – it was pre-meditated, rather than playing what was in front of them. Once they settled down, the opportunities came.

    We should be expecting to face the same tactics most weeks now – be constantly offside, slow down the ruck, know that you can get away with blue murder on the tackle or two after a restart, and then whine that you got caned by a ref who was actually pretty lenient.

    It was good to see the boys stick to the plan in the second half, and know that their superior quality would win out. I do think we need some alternative strategies against the top sides though, as that won’t be enough. Hopefully we’re working on those for the next game!

  8. Anonymous

    Could Papali’i, be our new cult hero like Fui Fui. Tell me have Parra extended his contract yet

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