The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 25 vs Panthers


Parra Eels Reserves 6

Penrith Panthers 40


Tonight, Penrith needed to beat Parra by 144 to claim the Minor Premiership.

Weren’t the lads impressive? Particularly in the first half, the lads went out there tonight and did the Eels jersey proud.

For a team that was understandably expected to get beaten all across the park, the playgroup of boys in the Blue & Gold stood tall against one of the NRL’s heavyweights, before the game got away from them in the second 40.

Surely this is not only great for the confidence of the Elvers (which I learnt earlier today is the name of a baby Eel), but a nice boost for our top squad too, being reminded just how special it is to play first grade football, let alone in another NRL Finals series.

Well the Eels were obviously outclassed in a range of areas tonight (line breaks, missed tackles, class, the ability to grow facial hair), but in the fair dinkum department, no one’s holding it against them.

Here’s hoping our starters (particularly Keegan Hipgrave) are all available for next week.

Despite the score blowing out in the second, I’m just so happy for the boys. Full credit to them. Get around us.

In other news:

  • Panthers 52% possession, Eels 48%
  • Panthers 33/41 completions (80%), Eels 28/37 (76%)
  • Panthers 9 errors Eels 11
  • Panthers 8 linebreaks, Eels 1
  • Panthers 2332 running metres, Eels 1908
  • Panthers 587 post contact metres, Eels 412
  • Panthers 29 missed tackles, Eels 49 (jeepers!)

Also, from an officiating point of view, this scrum formation was also less than ideal:

Finally, as CK rightly points out, Keegan Hipgrave is still undefeated in games he comes off the bench.

Ray Stone certainly left his imprint on the game tonight, and in some cases the torso of several Penrith forwards. Mark him down for 9 runs and 78 metres, but what you really need to worry about is his team high 53 tackles, cutting much of the Panther forward pack in half and halting much of their first half go forward.

Overall, it was really great to watch from Big Stoney, and a performance worthy of tonight’s MVP.




Hayze Perham

1 – Fullback

What do you mean this is the wrong photo? How many Hazes were out there tonight?


Haze Dunster

2 – Left Wing

So who on earth was playing fullback in the first half?


Tom Opacic

3 – Right Centre

Held his line in defence (16 tackles) and put points on the board in attack (8 runs for 53m). Always the professional.


Michael Oldfield

4 – Left Centre

Tonight, particularly in the first half, Michael Oldfield looked a lot like the player many Eels fans hoped he would be when signed as a backup centre: an experienced, enthusiastic and fast across the field. The second half was a return to regular programming, however with a myriad of defensive misreads (oh, that’s right), including a cartoon-like miss on Brian To’o for a second half Panthers try. Nonetheless, the stats read 8 runs for 52m, 12 tackles and 5 misses.

Unless some sort of backline disaster strikes, I suspect the off contract Oldfield is now just somebody that we used to know.


Blake Ferguson

5 – Right Wing

Remember when Blake Ferguson was 120m away from the restart out on the full and convinced Will Smith to challenge the decision of the touch judge (who was no more than a metre away)? Good times.

In other news Fergo got through the game injury free, with an understated 9 runs for 57m.

Oh, and he also slotted his kick at goal.


Will Smith

6 – Five Eighth

Captaining his side for the first time, and honouring the memory of his grandfather Uncle Bill, tonight was probably the best game I’ve ever seen Will Smith play in an Eels jersey (maybe ever, what do I know?). The Fresh Prince had 6 runs for 36m, 2 tackle breaks, 27 tackles and 11 kicks for 354m, including 3 forced drop outs. Great game, Cap.


Jakob Arthur

7 – Halfback

The deft little kick for the Eels first try was a thing of beauty from the young man and it was good to see him make a number of very important tackles on much bigger men, making 20 and only missing 1. Much improved.


Oregon Kaufusi

8 – Front Row

A shame to see him go off for (another) HIA, but Big Country’s time on the park (16 runs for 128m, 29 tackles) was outstanding.


Joey Lussick

9 – Hooker

So is Joey Lussick’s nickname “Luscious”?

If not, why not?


Maka Makatoa

10 – Front Row

It’s been a wonderful few weeks for the world’s oldest debutant, and tonight’s starting performance was yet another step in the right direction for Makahesi Makatoa. Maka’s 21 runs for 146m were obviously NRL career highs in both hitups and run metres, and you get the feeling he is the sort of find that good teams make and keep for long periods. Oh and Maka also had 46 tackles and an equal team high 5 tackle breaks.

I wish nothing else for him but a long career, just toiling away in Blue & Gold, laying a platform for the pretty boys with the big paychecks to take all the glory. Something tells me he’d like that too.


Bryce Cartwright

11 – Second Row

Although Bryce Cartwright was pretty average in patches tonight, he still managed to get through a massive 16 runs for 136m and an equal team high 5 tackle breaks. If nothing else he was trying all he could out there tonight (and also came up with a HUGE tackle mid way through the second half, which may or may not have been high …)


Keegan Hipgrave

12 – Second Row

In all seriousness, Keegan Hipgrave’s head hit that turf so hard it makes me grateful that we have HIA protocols in the game.

I’m sure he will be fine, but I’m glad he was not allowed to return tonight. Get well soon mate.


Ray Stone

13 – Lock

The Parramatta Eels bogeyman was out there tonight seizing the hearts and souls of the Panthers pack.

After tonight’s brutal performance, I hear COVID is desperately trying to roll out a Ray Stone vaccine.


Samuel Loizou

14 – Interchange

In one of the more abstract Grade comments I’ve typed out recently, I couldn’t really tell you much about what Samuel did when he was out there tonight, but I remember thinking ‘gees, that kid looks the goods‘ on at least one occasion. Congrats on the debut, mate.


Ky Rodwell

15 – Interchange

Ky Rodwell on the other hand? Oh, I noticed the heck out of him. What an outstanding debut from the young man. Big, heavy hits (41 tackles?!) combined with some very strong runs (8 runs for 74m) against one of the tougher packs in the NRL. I thought the young man had a brilliant debut, and suspect his career will be more easily measured in seasons than it is games.


Shaun Lane

16 – Interchange

Shaun Lane was definitely out there tonight, running around and playing Rugby League. The most experienced forward out there ran 8 times for 42 metres. Yeah that’s not great.


Sean Russell

17 – Interchange

It was a tougher night at the office for the 2 game veteran than his debut against the Dogs, but Sean Russell will be better for the run.

The season starts again next week as we gear up in all likelihood for a sudden death clash with the Newcastle Knights.

Win then, and as I said last week, anything can happen in the Finals.

Whatever happens, I’ll see you then, sports fans.

Unless of course we lose, then I will be cowered in the corner, in the fetal position; should be a good time.


Go you Eels,



Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels. Stats usually courtesy of Champion Data, but for tonight only,

If you liked this article, you might consider supporting The Cumberland Throw.

51 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 25 vs Panthers

  1. Shaun

    So funny to have the Eels lose by a big margin and not have a care in the world. I think BA got what he wanted out of the game as did those who played and those who didn’t played. Stone definitely enhanced his reputation. I hope he does that again next week.

  2. Offside

    Someone once said to me that there are 1st graders and then there are players that played first grade Ray Stone is a first grader it was great to see him show that tonight.

    Ky Rodwell looks a player to keep an eye out for.

    I really liked the look of Perham I’ve seen a bit of him but he looks a good one and should be the back up 1 or 6 next year essentially taking Rankins role in the squad but with more potential.

    Cartwright was bad he had a big opportunity tonight and I feel he over complicated his game and became titans Bryce not the eels Bryce we have come to tolerate.

    And Oldfield my God let’s just release him from the bubble now

    1. Anonymouswile

      Cartwright played like he has only been coming on in the last 10min of games when it is all but over one way or the other.

      Starting will help him. He has skills – especially taking the ball to the line and passing

  3. Wilhelmina

    Positives – Ray Stone, Will Smith, Ky Rodwell, Maka Makatoa, Haze Dunster, Jakob Arthur
    Have done themselves no favours – Lane, Oldfield, Fergo
    Mixed bag – Cartwright

    The inexperienced players showed what enthusiasm and commitment can do in the first half, with good line speed and cover defence (some really good last-ditch tackles by Smith and Arthur on bigger players of particular note). Of course, sustaining that across 80 is what they’ll need to learn to do, hence the second half. But that first half was way better than we were all expecting.

    The more experienced players (with the huge exceptions of Smith, Stone and poor Keegs being wiped out early) were pretty disappointing overall, despite the odd good moment – I have higher expectations for them, and they let me (and themselves) down. If you didn’t know who the experienced players were, you wouldn’t have picked them.

    Really hoping Will Smith stays. Stone was excellent. We look a bit light with both of them on the bench, but gee they deserve it. Thought Maka has outplayed Kaufusi the past few weeks and could take his place in the 17th. Happy for Lane to miss out – hoping the fact he played this week reflects that as the plan!

    Despite the second half whitewash, that was a lot less embarrassing than a few other games I’m trying to forget. Bottle that first half enthusiasm and resolve, feed it to the regular first-graders, and we’re good to go.

    1. Anonymous

      Dont understand , the first 6 you mention as having done themselves no favours , i thought they were all great ?? Explain did you like them or not !

  4. BDon

    You’ve caught the mood well Mitch, Stone and Will Smith stood out like Lennon and McCartney. Just about every Panther try was preceded by a penalty, error, 6 Again and in a few a double dose of 2 of the 3 momentum givers. Would have been interesting to see how our genuine effort played out with a cleaner discipline sheet. And being biased, I thought we couldn’t buy a 6 Again when a couple of hand outs would have been useful.

    1. Graz

      Got a token 6 again a few minutes to go. Still can’t believe Cleary’s try late in game wasn’t a forward pass. I made a remark during the game that it seemed to be reffed according to the expectation that Penrith would comfortably win. Will Smith must have punched himself in the mouth as he was bleeding so much. No action on the field taken. Maybe Kikau might advise him how it happened.

    2. Wilhelmina

      Yep, there was a play on the fourth tackle when we were attacking their line, Panthers player gets called out early as offside. He proceeds to make a tackle, but no action taken. And they wonder why fans are disillusioned with the standard of refereeing.

    1. sixties

      Anon, what he’s achieved is a confirmation of what many within the club had already thought of him. I reckon he’s found a home for next year.

      1. Colin Hussey

        Watching the game against the Riff & for me most if not all of the first time NRL players will be part of our roster for next year and beyond.

        Having another look at the eels home page and teams section, there are 35 players listed, 16 in the backs with the remainder forwards, if I understand it, there is a limit to how many we have to have, 30 for NRL and 4 or so for development.

        Some of those players though may not be signed going forward, but no club can keep all of the players that have part of the years teams.

        Personally, I am thankful that I was able to watch several of those young players running on and playing in the NRL for the first time, overall they all did well, to lose some will be sad but also necessary. On that score I thank those players who have been part of the eels teams this year and who will leave and trust they do well wherever they land.

        The one big thing for me though is lets hope that next season we will see all of the lower grade comps going full swing for the whole year.

        1. John Eel

          Colin I think that you will get your wish with regard to backup competitions being completed for the first time in three years come 2022.

          Australia is coming to the same conclusion that the rest of the world already understands. You can’t eliminate Covid only learn to live with it.

          There is a video doing the rounds at the moment. A college football team is running out for their first game of the season. A crowd of around 50,000 people screaming, dancing cheek to jowls.

          My niece is building a house in Texas. She was saying that they are living totally without restrictions. Life is great again. No masks.

          I looked Texas up on google, 7 day rolling average, 17,000 cases a day and 200 deaths a day. Learning to live with it.

          1. Colin Hussey

            They used to say that in Texas, they Makum big. Seems the covid is doing the same there. Probably a few empty homes for sale.

            I have had both vacs and glad I did, however I have a gut feeling that there will not be a time when we are free from that desease, as new strains have started in Southern Africa again.

            China is also on a Covid alert in a number of their regions.

  5. Brian

    I don’t think the young fellas had a bad game. only Russell struggled a little but he was brought on in the second half when Penrith had already taken control. Loizou was a bit the same.

    I think you were a bit generous to Cartwright. I am desperate to see him come good for us tonight, but he fell into his old ways too often, putting pressure on us at in opportune times. I really don’t know what gets into him when he is almost on his back and sees a player surrounded by opposition tacklers and thinks, good time to pass.

    I thought Haze Dunster had his best game tonight. Was strong in defence and bent the line with his kick returns. He really looked seasoned tonight instead of just up and coming.

    I know Ray Stone got some accolades from the commentary team last night but he deserved more. The commentary team kept talking about Fisher-Harris and what a strong game he had, but all I remember was him getting cut in half repeatedly by Stone and even Will Smith. Luke Martin was Ray’s bitch too.

    All in all, it was like a preseason trial. Give the lesser know guys some game time, some out of position, swapping things around and see how the go. Some guys with very little game time got some.

    We got out of the game what we needed for the final series coming up.

  6. Dave

    The commentators on 9 get a z, everytime parra had the ball last night they were having a chat fest about Cleary qnd Penrith. Oldfield was terrible and fergo wasn’t much better, he still rushes in when he doesn’t need to. Was said during the game that officials were great and letting the game flow, I’m sorry but I felt they were poor and didn’t do enough ,the 10 metres was non existent qnd the amount of forward passes including the one to Cleary for his try was atrocious. All in all was good effort by the boys and gives Arthur a big headache trying to pick a squad for next week

    1. Colin Hussey

      Fergs, is pretty much old news and showed it to a T last night, if being caught out off his line wasn’t enough, his demand to get a review on the ball being taken over the sideline and his blustering as he went back with mouth doing more speed than he can run was enough for me, unless its out of the paddock.

      Back to his old defensive worst with his leaving the line exposed.

    2. BDon

      The Riff were also pushing slowing the ruck, not constantly, just adjusting to the lack of policing but there were quite a few blatant ones not called. Capewell did a leg pull/twist around the 38 minute mark, called all year but not last night.Kikau’s lazy/careless smack in the mouth on Will Smith would have had the bunker in a frenzy 2 months back. Definitely we are being prepped for the finals.

  7. Mick

    Interesting game, I really enjoyed the boys making the Riff do a lot of defending in the first half. Was never thinking win, but it would have been great to be more clinical and apply pressure for the full 80. But realistically the tide was always going to turn and I think it was a result not being beaten nil.

    Loved watching Ray Stone and Will Smith get a full game. Both were outstanding I thought. I also liked Cartwright’s involvement, he clearly wanted to lead the team, he just needs to be more patient. Also agree with Makatoa and Rodwell having solid games. For me though, it stops there. Everyone else was between ho-hum and Michael Oldfield.

    Kafusi runs hard, but really needs to get the errors out of his game to warrant a position on the bench. For me it goes to Makatoa now. Can’t be giving up 1-2 cold drops every game when you only get 20 – 30mins on the field.

    Lane will be an interesting one. I didn’t notice any serious defensive lapses, but I also barely noticed him in attack. I’m generally a fan of his play (minus the mistakes) and offers something in the middle and on the edge. But if tonight was an audition for next week, he didn’t give BA a lot to work with.

    My ideal 17 for next week:
    1. Gutho
    2. Fergo
    3. Niukore
    4. Pensini
    5. Waqa
    6. Dylan
    7. Moses
    8. RCG
    9. Lussick
    10. Paulo
    11. Lane
    12. Matto
    13. Papalii
    14. Stone
    15. Brown
    16. Makatoa
    17. Cartwright

    Realistically I know this won’t be the team, but if defence wins premierships, that looks like a pretty solid defensive line up to me.

    1. Kevin Chambers

      I like the team but would play Brown. Lane to the bench, possible swap with Kaufusi but agree with his mistakes being costly. Lane is good for a mistake as well.

      1. Mick

        Don’t disagree with you. I guess for me Kafusi is more likely to cold drop it / loose carry, and give away penalties from poor tackle execution. Lane more likely to try and over play his hand and throw a miracle ball, or be defensively lazy. I feel like you could tell Lane to just tuck the ball in and run, and put in a solid 40mins with Cartwright to sub in. Kafusi less easy to coach out of his errors. That said, my bench doesn’t offer the best prop rotation solutions. Unless you start Paulo or RCG off the bench.

        Will be an interesting Tuesday.

  8. Kevin Chambers

    I thought Ky Rodwell and Hayze Penham looked great and are fantastic prospects. I hope we lock all of these young players up before looking at players from other clubs. Joey Lussick is proving to be a more than capable replacement for Reed. We look 2 or 3 seasons behind the Panthers as far as developing Top Level NRL players which is a good thing for our future. Those responsible for junior developement need to be congratulated. Please dont let other clubs take our players

  9. pete

    I’m not disappointed by that game. In fact we can learn from it. Panthers patting themselves on the back against our young guys. We really troubled them in the first half. They didn’t put 50 plus on us some media were tipping.
    Ray Stone – we must keep him. He has taken Lane’s spot for mine and put him in the middle.
    Rodwell is a keeper. Makatoa great. Lussick good.
    I previously said Will Smith will retire but I think he will go around again. He’s a great club man. Ferguson is too unpredictable one minute he’s brilliant next minute he’s a fool…He hasn’t really recaptured his form from a few years ago…yet he was our most experienced back.. He was pathetic in defence at least a turnstile makes contact.. he didn’t. it’s not a case of rocks and diamonds but more a case of saw dust and cubic zirconias.
    Oldfield did 1 good thing and then nothing, again very experienced player…
    I think the players watching will take that game and use it for ammunition for next time.
    I’m confident we can learn from this game and the guy’s that needed it got a valuable rest.
    Can’t wait until next week!!
    Go Eels!!

  10. Longfin Eel

    It will be very interesting to see what the bench looks like next week. Some players will feel like they have earned their spot, but there are only 4 spots. Smith and Stone were both outstanding, but can we have them both on the bench? A few critical decisions for BA to consider, and no doubt it will come down to who can best play out the game plan.

  11. John Eel

    I know it is unlikely but I would like to see Marata retained on the right edge

    Also Papali’i played well in the middle against the Storm. BA could do worse than to leave him there.

    After last nights performance Stone is a must for the bench

  12. Luke

    Interesting H1, interesting read. When you consider most of them were playing for their NRL futures, it was good to see that performance from a number of them who understood this was their best opportunity. Papa is our find of the season but Maka would be my 2nd, he’s not been outgunned against Storm or Penrith forwards. Just can’t understand why WSmith hasn’t had more of a run in 1st grade in the halves as back-up over the years. Stone was great but injuries are his issue historically.

  13. Milo

    Good effort from the team overall. Someone need to belt Kikau, the pussy, and glory player. Ahh well there is always one or two of them.
    We did well, and yes the 2nd half got away from us. The errors hurt and then we were made to pay.
    Our bench next week will be interesting.
    Just need to win…..I am not sure how we can have Stone and Smith on bench but one probably needs to be there.

  14. Dday

    A couple of As and a few B+s in a losing team that let in 7 tries, no argument from me. Shows how low our expectations were but how impressive the effort was against a classy Riff.
    Lots to like;
    – stone was massive – always impactful
    – Will Smith was gr8, didn’t overplay his hand
    – Rodwell, Makatoa, Lussick and both the hazes we’re strong.
    Look forward to newcastle next week with some confidence – difficult team selection next week

  15. Zero58

    I have to say that is the first time I have seen a few of the Reggies play. They did good. Not sure what is happening with the lower grade finals but, watching last night I would think they would have a great chance against the competition leaders Penrith.
    Some really impressed. I thought the referee allowed too much latitude for Penrith in clearing away from the tackled player. And yet Parra continues to play fair.
    MOM was tied between Stone and Smith. Those hits from Stone were real rib ticklers. I think he clearly outplayed Cartwright who I thought tried too hard. He is a class act but, must learn to play to his strengths.
    I would like to see Russell in place of Ferguson or Blake on the wing with Opacic and Penisi in the centres. They are a strong defensive pair.
    The bench will be interesting and I think Smith deserves a spot. Stone, Makatoa, Rodwell and Smith or Lane or maybe Cartwright.
    The usual suspects for the starting pack.
    What I got most out of the game was the enthusiasm particularly the first half.
    Penrith got a few breaks while Parra could not get any.
    The second half was okay – they really tried but Penrith got away on them. I just hope Parra didn’t play them in to form.

  16. Unfloat the gloat

    This is not related to the grades but was going on with that set play from the Panthers. The Panthers prop was facing the sideline with the express intention of stopping the Eels pack from breaking from the scrum.

    Is that legal.

    1. Anonymous

      Not much is illegal with scrums, but if he held up a player who made it obvious he was impeded it might get attention. There was something similar examined this year.

  17. Sec50

    I pretty much agree with your summation of the game and grades but Lane was an F. He is the laziest forward in our team by a long way. He should not be selected again this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.