NRL TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP ROUND 2
SATURDAY MARCH 19, 2022
SHARKS 18 DEFEATED EELS 16
There has already been plenty said about this match.
But above all else, a rewatch of the video of the Panthers trial is in order. It would be worthwhile for the Eels to remind themselves of how they play with a short passing game compared to the long passing game in evidence against the Sharks.
It seemed as though a full preseason of work came undone in this 80 minute performance. Parra just went away from what was working against the Panthers and in most parts against the Titans.
The Eels needed to play a bit smarter and win the middle. That then earns the right to play wider in opposition territory.
That aside, giving away penalties and territory at crucial times is just not smart footy. Plain and simple.
Yes I will point the finger at Ray Stone. Despite cannon ball tackles being under scrutiny, and despite the tackle being complete, he still hit the legs of the held player. This gave the Sharks the leg up and territory that they hadn’t earned, and they scored in the final play of the game.
But there were other penalties like that throughout the game that got the Sharks out of trouble.
It wasn’t a loss to lose your cool over, but it was disappointing as we know the Eels can play a lot better.
There were moments in the match that genuinely demonstrated what the 2022 Eels are capable of. No doubt over the new few weeks these moments will become more frequent.
The Key Numbers
Possession favoured the Eels at 56% to the Sharks 44%. The completion rate of 79% came from getting through 30 of 39 sets.
The Sharks attack produced 8 line breaks compared to Parra’s 3 line breaks.
Junior Paulo spearheaded the Eels second phase play, providing 4 of Parra’s 12 offloads.
The Eels made 1542 running metres from 180 runs. This included 570 Post Contact Metres.
Individually it was Isaiah Papali’i who led the charge with 152 run metres from 18 runs. Not far behind in a very good 5/8 performance was Dylan Brown. Dylan ran for 138 metres from 13 runs.
Other fine contributors were RCG with 118 running metres, and Makatoa with 111 running metres. For the backs, Waqa Blake and Bailey Simonsson ran for 122 metres apiece.
Parra’s running heat map below shows they had to make some hard yards from their own 20. However, they mustered enough metres to go into the Sharks territory.
Parra’s set starts (below) were mainly deep in our end and although we did have a few set starts in the Sharks half, there was something missing in attack to convert this into points.
I wanted to show the Sharks set starts from the match (see below). They played the long game. They had only 4 set starts in the Eels half and they still came away with the win. Something to contemplate that’s for sure.
Discipline wise the Eels were pretty poor. As mentioned earlier, they just gave away dumb penalties and let the Sharks off the hook, losing any pressure they had applied.
Parra made 6 errors, conceded 8 penalties and gave up 1 set restart.
This map shows where Parramatta conceded their penalties. Every single one was a helping hand for the Sharks to get of their red zone. It was easy metres given away.
Defensively the Eels made 307 tackles but the 35 missed tackles and 19 ineffective was far too high. The overall tackle effectiveness was 85%.
Parra’s first contact in both opening games hasn’t been great and this is hurting the Eels as both the Titans and Sharks created easy second phase play and making us short in the defensive line.
Reed Mahoney topped the Eels tackle count with 37 tackles, followed closely by Papali’i with 36. Honourable shout out to Will Penisini who made 25 tackles with a lot of the Sharks attack thrown at him.
Strange Stat of the Week
Time wise, the Eels achieved almost 46 minutes of game time in the Sharks half, including just over 25 minutes spent in the Sharks 20 metre zone.
Despite the Eels holding the majority of possession, field position and time, the Sharks outscored them by 4 tries to 2.
Stats Player of the Week
The award this week goes to Dylan Brown.
As mentioned, Dylan ran for 138 running metres from 13 runs, and had 43 possessions.
Brown’s attack was well on song, making 76 post contact metres, registering an offload, a try assist and a line break assist and breaking 5 tackles.
Defensively he made 21 tackles with zero misses.
It was a disappointing end to this game but Parra need to play smarter footy.
Emphasis should be on defence again this week as the Eels head to Melbourne. The A and B defenders need to be on high alert as Harry Grant will destroy the defence with his dummy half runs. He needs to be captured quick out the ruck to nullify his running game.
The Eels also need to address their first contact as the Storm could get an easy roll on if this isn’t rectified.
Naturally, with more games comes better formation and cohesiveness. Parra’s structures will improve. The players will find greater confidence.
As an example, Bailey Simonsson had a much better game this week and his combination with Penisini is improving. Nonetheless he still needs to see more ball.
Waqa Blake on the wing probably played close to his best game in the Blue and Gold strip. He seemed to benefit from the service of Tom Opacic.
Yours in Blue and Gold,