The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – Trust The Process Of Parra Footy

It’s time for a reset.

There’s no disguising the performance of the Parramatta Eels in their humiliating loss to an injury riddled Roosters.

A blunt assessment would equate it to watching the 2021 Bulldogs at their worst. Honestly, lining up against Parra on Thursday night might have been two points in the bank for any NRL club, not just the Roosters.

It would therefore be easy to write the team off for this year, as many experts and Eels supporters have already done.

How does a team who played like that hope to win another match this season, let alone have any ambition of making an impression on the finals series?

Quite simply they wouldn’t.

They wouldn’t if that is how they approach any upcoming match in this season.

Therein lies the challenge of what needs to change and how big that change needs to be.

I’d argue that it starts in the mind.

I’m no expert on the methodology of positive thinking and how to achieve it, but Thursday night’s performance screamed negativity.

From the opening whistle the Eels were intent on shifting the ball. How many of you were immediately concerned?

With almost every pass I began screaming “no” at the television.

Everything looked stilted and the players’ movements and decision making were coloured a bright shade of hesitance.

Offloads were plentiful but without purpose. The pack forgot what they were called – forwards.

If the game plan was to explore the Roosters edges it looked like the team hadn’t bought into how to do it. The players weren’t on the same page, strike that, they weren’t even in the same library.

Gutho

My worry intensified when Gutho threw a rushed pass behind Jake Arthur then risked a captain’s challenge on a possible Roosters touch.

What made the match even more frustrating was the Roosters were ripe for a defeat. The tri-colours opened the match with a litany of errors. Nerves were getting the better of them.

Furthermore, despite the presence of quality players, this Roosters team was arguably weaker than the one which the Eels powerfully disposed of in Round 9.

Herein lies the point that needs to be made. The key word above is “powerfully”.

Let’s be very clear. The Eels don’t win matches like the Storm or the Panthers. They don’t dispose of opponents in the same way, nor should they be expected to. Teams don’t need to replicate the methods of another team to secure victories, and every team has a different squad and skill set at their disposal.

Parramatta have developed a brand of football, let’s call it “Parra footy”. It’s based on establishing dominance through the middle, thereby tiring the opposition defence.

The power play of the forwards continually bends the defensive line, clocking up post contact metres. Scoring opportunities come via the territorial advantage gained from big running metres and a strong kicking game. Patience and composure are critical.

Mitch Moses

The number of try assists from Moses’ kicking is no accident. If you’re in position for an attacking kick, you use it. After all, a try from a kick is worth the exact same points as the most spectacular, length of the field four-pointer.

On the back of the forwards’ dominance, the second phase play starts to destabilise the opposition defence, whilst both halves have the ability to create problems off that with their running game. At their best, Sivo and Ferguson are probably the X factors, creating tries out of half chances.

Another string to the attacking bow was added this season with Reed Mahoney’s variety out of dummy half. The development in his game added strike power to the spine. More on this shortly.

Such a formula for the Eels is simple, but successful. It is the foundation upon which variations can be added to suit each opponent, such as hitting edges, finding space behind the ruck, early kicks, and unstructured play.

However, for some reason this method of winning games has been branded not good enough, with Parramatta’s attack labelled predictable and incapable of matching powerhouses such as the Storm or the Panthers.

Funnily enough, when the Eels stay true to this “Parra footy”, that sentiment is not at all applicable. For most of the season, the Eels have sat in the top four for tries scored. The disasters seem to unfold when the team attempts to play an expansive game without laying any platform.

The poor performances against the Dragons, Souths and the Roosters have all featured a shift the ball mentality. The Eels forwards were overpowered in those matches due to their own lateral play which was belted by the direct and aggressive footy of their opposition. It resulted in completion rates of 72%, 72% and 74% respectively.

I’ve omitted the loss to Manly in that category. An inspired Sea Eagles dismantled the Eels right side defence in that match, resulting in the separation of Blake and Ferguson as a centre/wing pairing.

The adoption of such lateral football is difficult to understand. The players look uncomfortable, hesitant and the body language is devoid of confidence. Furthermore, the Eels history when resorting to this style should be a constant reminder of its failure.

In contrast, the Eels have played that “Parra footy” in their victories and even in their narrow losses to Canberra and Penrith. Both of those losses featured solid completion rates of 80% and 83%, and opportunities to secure the win. Errors in execution and a couple of missed kicks proved the difference.

And that’s just footy, not a reason to steer away from what works.

Disregard opinions about the questions asked by the Eels attack or any comparisons made to other teams. All that matters is winning. Parramatta can quickly get back on the winning path by playing the type of football which suits their players.

By way of exercise, have a look at the highlights against the Roosters in Round 9.

Firstly you’ll see Parra ice scoring opportunities off kicks, something which they failed to convert in Round 20.

Reed Mahoney

Watch the interplay between Mahoney and Paulo close to the line which manufactures a try. Don’t underestimate the importance of a confident Reed Mahoney. When he asks questions, Parramatta bend that defensive line. If he simply distributes, the Eels find the go forward that much tougher.

Finally, as Dylan Brown scores you’ll hear Peter Sterling praise Parramatta’s patience this season, and the opportunities which come against a tired defence. I’d challenge any supporter to find a shred of patience last week.

In reality, turning their form around is as challenging as the Eels are willing to make it.

A positive mindset and belief in their own systems and their “Parra footy” is the easiest path.

Listening to confusing messages about the different ways that the team should be playing is the doorway to more performances like we saw on Thursday night.

Ignore the critics and trust the process.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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Jonno

Totally agree, we need to work to “our formula”, but have the ability to play “heads up footy” when necessary. Seems the transition between the two modes, is our achilles heel.

Tim

100… That is why Panthers win… Not that we play like them but they can adapt their game during a match when needed. We stick to our game plan so well that even when it’s not working or just plain wrong we will keep trying with everything we have. As Sterlo says we have the most effort just need to think of it is working. I do agree we have to win the middle but also play what is infront.

Tim

Great article… Love the commitment to the team….

Fathead

It’s all about the speed of the play the ball. You establish forward dominance by fast play the balls and quick powerful runs through that ruck. We would have the slowest play the ball speed in the NRL. Players like Sivo are simply pedestrian at it and it nullifies any gains he makes.

Anonymous

Sixties, nobody holds Sivo down, he just has the slowest play the ball in the comp, absolute ill disciplined play by him, just about every time he gets tackled, or tickled! He gets a roll on and plays the ball like in slow motion!

Anonymous

Great take Sixtes. Whilst this side’s identity went missing against the Roosters, it is not lost. It was only a month ago that we took it to the wire against Penrith (yes Clearly was out but so was Mahoney). This was followed by the most complete first half of footy that the team has put together in a long while. This is easily forgotten. The Roosters loss hurt (especially when plenty of your mates are chooks fans) but to draw out a conclusion that this side is doomed to repeat last season’s finals run is far too premature. The media… Read more »

Steele

Thanks for this article, totally agree that we need to get back to a more positive style of play and that if we do, then the good footy and results will return. It’s probably worth asking though; why would a team that’s basically won 40 out of their last 50 matches with the same style make such a dramatic departure in such a crucial game? It’s a leadership issue, captain, coach or senior player’s have to own up to that and do their best to make sure it doesn’t recur. Imagine making it to a major final or GF playing… Read more »

pete

I remember seeing footage of Tommy Turbo spraying one of his forwards for being lazy. Only Turbo could get away with that… because his performance aside from injury is flawless. Gutho has been spraying his teammates but throwing erratic passes. He tries hard but it seems he is under too much pressure and is not handling it well. That rubs off on the team and the players start making more errors. Sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets. I’m looking for an overhaul this week because a number of players are looking tired and we need to get… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by pete
Anonymous

Sixties, you may not know, but I am hearing that Gutho and BA are at odds over the continued selection of Jake Arthur. If it is the case I understand Gutho’s frustration, Jake is not up to NRL level at this point!

Anonymous

If you are saying Jake isn’t up to NRL level just yet, why is he being played?

Anonymous

Dave good read sixties i think we got frustrated when we had those 2 tries disallowed our tactics was to score tries of kicks down 12 ..0 i think both tries were tries we started the 2nd half quite well if that was awarded at 12..6 it is a different ball game huge moment call from the bunker they scored 18..0 game pver then we had our 2nd try disallowed at 18..0 whats your oppinion on those 2 tries

Sec50

I think your assertion that a positive mindset is the way to win is spot on. I believe Parra has trouble with the psychological process that results in that mindset. Do we have a Sports psychologist? If not, why not? They appear to have a collective negative attitude and you can almost feel it sometimes, like last week. Psychology should not be underrated and could play a part in our winning in the future.

BDon

Works for the All Blacks

Colin Hussey

Sixties, good post overall. I for one do not understand the change in playing style by the team, even though we lost a few players against the chooks, prior to and in the game itself. I wonder though if the change has been manufactured by the Media experts regarding the way the eels use the ball and in attack, for two or more weeks now the dry ground experts on the TV expert panels, have been pushing the concept that the eels are not getting the ball away, not pushing it amongst several other aspects in regard to our play.… Read more »

Anonymous

Everyone is not addressing a huge factor, that being the extraordinarily physical/brutal game that was last week. I called it early that both parra and Canberra would lose following that game.
Too sore to hit it up or forcefully commit in defence?

Anonymous

I notice in the canberra game the rads were 8 mtrs back to us 10 and the play the ball speed ours was a lot slower you do get momentum through quick play balls but sometimes its up to how the reff rules pn those 2 areas ropana try there was 2 defenders sitting on the ground and had absouletly no chance to get in the defence line because the speed of the game favours the attacking side more then the defence i think the rules are unfair

West Coast Eel

I hope we can turn it around, I really do. Just not sure we can do it. I’m sure Moses will make a difference, but will it be enough to win games? Unfortunately I think we will win 1-2 more games before finals, finishing 6th. I’ll still be supporting the team though. Prove me wrong Parra!

John Eel

Peter Sterling is a Parramatta great and is one of my all time Eels favourite players. However as I said last week I was disappointed with his comments in the media. I am certain that he would have the opportunity to have that discussion with BA in private: Notwithstanding the opening to the Roosters game was frightening. I have no way of knowing if it was planned or it simply played out that way on the field. It was dumb football. The best wins that we have had in the last three seasons have been against top teams playing the… Read more »

Glenn

There are some personnel changes that need to be made. Peninisi for Opacic, Will Smith for JA if Moses not back and Dunster for Sivo who needs a good rest to reset. Not sure whats happened to Papa but his impact has diminished and he doesn’t pass/offload any more.

We constantly lose the ruck with slow ptb’s and refuse to hold down like the Storm do and ALWAYS get away with it. Also our line speed needs improving in D to put the attacking team under pressure. Minor changes there to really improve the team.

Brissyeel

We desperately need Moses back, simple. It’s not just his kicking game we are missing, his loss has changed our entire attacking structure and it’s been very detrimental to us. Gutho has gone away from what makes him so good – trailing the ruck waiting for an offload or jumping into dummy half on the back of a quick play the ball for an easy 15 metres and another quick play the ball to keep us on a roll and we can play footy off the back of it. Instead, Gutho has tried to be a 3rd playmaker – often… Read more »

John Eel

Brissy the benefit of Mitch’s kicking game is that against a fast defensive line we may not always get the metres we are looking for. However the MM kicking game can mostly be relied upon to get us to the other end.

It must also be remembered that by being measerly with our passing game at our own end of the field means our errors are diminished.

John Eel

I just read the Paul Kent article in the DT on the Eels and the rumour that they are chasing Bennett. Not always a big fan of Kenty but he is absolutely on the money with this one. Leading up to BA after Brian Smith left we went through a number of coaches. None of whom brought us any real and lasting success. I feel confident that the current board will hold their nerve and do what is best for the club long term. I am not going near the other sites but they would be in meltdown by now… Read more »

Milo

Good point John about this. I thought it was a decent story by Kent.
I also hear Kent has Sixties direct phone line…..

John Eel

Lol

John Eel

Yes he didn’t miss us today

Raptor Jesus

Trust the process of a late season collapse? Uhhh…. okay… Jake Arthur literally jumped out of the way of a pass, and you blame Gutho? Parra kicked so poorly behind JA and Brown that we conceded more 7 tackle sets than we earned drop outs, only the second time this year we have done so (Dragons was the other game). Anyway, this talk of “Parra footy”, that we have to win a certain way through our power game or we have no hope of winning…. guess what? Good teams need to find different ways to win! You need to win… Read more »

BDon

Was having this line of thought too. The Storm and Manly for example, exploited our poor defence in our red zone of wide shifts, they shifted wide from anywhere on the park, their execution was good. We try shifting early, execution poor. I may not be able to express a sophisticated explanation of what’s going wrong but what about the twin sins of errors and low completions, not many teams win games with these. They feature when we get dusted. Why are we leading the error count in the NRL?

John Eel

On one of the Twitter feeds that was up on TCT this afternoon was one from Christian Welch.

He said that their game plan was to just keep taking it up to the advantage line. Isn’t that what the Eels do.

He also said that it wasn’t pretty but it is the modern game. Any win is better than a loss no matter how ugly.

Shaun

If the Eels won ugly all the way to winning the comp I would not be complaining at all.

Pou

Spot on sixties. We need to play patient, direct footy. Ignore the whingers complaining that it’s ugly. It wears defences down and wins games.

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