The Cumberland Throw

The Gin & Logic – 2022 (2021) Round 4: Turn & Turnabout, Eels Thwarted By A Field Goal

Round 4 Drink Of Choice – Bombay Sapphire

Rugby league can have a savage sense of humour at times. The Parramatta Eels returned to McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday to lock horns with the Sydney Roosters. It was the very same venue where Maddie Studdon posted the competition’s first ever field goal earlier this year to defeat the Newcastle Knights in Round 1. In a bout of irony worthy of the great wordsmith Boot-Straps Bill Shakespeare himself, the Roosters claimed a crucial 1-point victory over the Eels care of a booming Zahara Temara drop kick.

As painful as the loss was, the game itself featured plenty of terrific footy from both sides. The Eels will be left to rue as slow start though as a flurry of early tries to the Tri-Colours left Parramatta in a 12-0 hole. They valiantly fought their way back into the contest but the heart-breaking climax leaves them potentially vulnerable to missing the finals with a monster Round 5 looming.

 

Beware the bouncing ball

Credit where credit is due – Racene McGregor made this particular kick a difficult proposition to get to on the full. Still, the Eels were handed an extremely painful lesson in just the 3rd minute of the game when a wicked bounce from the aforementioned kick found Brydie ParkerBotille Vette-Welsh and Rikeya Horne could only watch helplessly as the ball broke at a right angle to sit up perfectly for Parker.

The issue of the bouncing ball dogged the Eels throughout the game outside of that particular instance though. Multiple kickoffs became lucky dip due to an inability to claim the kick on the full. A lucky dip that paid out to the Roosters at times. As we all know, possession tends to reign supreme in rugby league and failing to secure those deadball restarts completely flips the field.

With both the Broncos and the finals on the horizon for the Blue & Gold, they can ill-afford to repeat this mistake…and to be fair I don’t expect them to.

 

Trio of Roosters rule the yard

The Parramatta pack has proven itself formidable throughout the first three weeks of the NRLW but they ran into an impressive trio of middle forwards on the weekend. Sarah Togatuki, Mya Hill-Moana and Hannah Southwell took the Eels to task through the middle corridor on Sunday. Southwell in particular provided a devastatingly effective platform for her halves to play off with an array of lightning quick play-the-balls. Hill-Moana and Togatuki scored crucial tries on top on their excellent work around the ruck to augment the stellar work of their lock.

Simaima Taufa and Kennedy Cherrington certainly battled resolutely in return but the Tri-Colours had the ruck ascendancy throughout this contest. The fact that the Eels not only fought back but even took the lead in this game is a testament to their abilities across the park. Their combined arms approach may have fallen short on Sunday by the slimmest of margins but they should be far from crestfallen. Their own games and other results across the board have shown they can lock horns with anyone in the NRLW. And speaking of horns…

 

Mess with the bull Eel and you get the Horne

The Roosters may have outmuscled Parramatta through the middle but Rikeya Horne made certain it was a different story on the flanks. Returning from a foot-injury that sidelined her in Round 3, Horne posted a game-high 6 tackle breaks all the while running the ball at an extremely efficient clip. Her 103m from just 9 carries (11.44m per carry) featured 32m of post contact work and matched the eye-test of the difference she added from the left flank.

She also parlayed that tackle busting ability into a game best average play-the-ball speed of 3.04sec to set the table for her team-mates.

 

Studdon in the (red) zone

Maddie Studdon has found something of a groove in the red zone recently with the play-maker nabbing another pair of try assists on the weekend. Naturally the first of these went exactly as they drew it up in training with the half finding Christian Pio with a bounce pass behind the shooting defender for one of the more improbable four pointers of the season. The second try assist was pure class though with Studdon drifting into the line to find a rampaging Tiana Penitani to give the Eels the lead.

Studdon’s combinations with both Pio and Penitani are beginning to flourish with the backrower and centre seemingly forming an understanding of how Maddie likes to dig into the line and where they need to be accordingly. These blossoming relationships will be critical for the Eels because you could see the Roosters beginning to key in aggressively to Botille Vette-Welsh as she swept to either edge. Having those secondary and tertiary options present as real threats allows Parramatta to keep opposition defences off-balance and allowing their star fullback to operate with time and space.

 

The Final Word

The loss to the Roosters now means that a combination of results in Round 5 could see the Eels drop out of the finals. If the Titans knock off the Knights and the Roosters defeat the Dragons then Parramatta have to prevail over the Broncos. Points differential will also be factor in this scenario with the Eels (0), Titans (-6) and Roosters (-9) all within touching distance of each other.

Conversely, any combination of a Parramatta loss and even just one (or both) of those two teams also losing brings points differential back into play for a berth in the postseason.

Ultimately, Parramatta need to focus only on securing victory over the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday. Margin of victory and other results are a distant secondary concern. The Titans showed on the weekend that the Broncos can be knocked over. The Dragons very nearly achieved the same feat the week before. This is a game that our ladies can absolutely win but they will need to bring their focus, aggression and hunger for the full 70-minutes because there is everything to play for. I look forward massively to how they handle the magnitude of the occasion and the opponent because they have battled fearlessly every week up thus far.

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!0 Year Member

I am still adjusting to the women’s game. I must admit, I was very impressed with the collisions (which I believe BA likes as well) and how the spread the ball. It’s growing on me and great to see TCT providing a while article.

!0 Year Member

I missed the whiskey musings this week though

!0 Year Member

But I like the gin twist. Try 4 pillars next time

sixties

It is a big coverage load. Forty had to get out a couple of posts yesterday, as did Colmac. We will possibly look to how we cover an expanded NRLW comp in future seasons.

sixties

10 year, the growth in the women’s game is great, and we are watching the development in pathways too. The Eels Tarsha Gale team have improved significantly on last season and the self belief is evident. We are very happy to cover both grades on TCT.

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