The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 8 vs Cowboys


Parramatta Eels 4

NQ Cowboys 35

Well, I’m glad I didn’t make the trip to Darwin. Normally if we lose a home game like this I’d be drowning my sorrows in a Parramatta dive bar and grabbing a regret kebab on the way home. Tonight I can just put out some half-arsed grades and go to bed.

 Considering the ridiculous conditions, this game started as well as it could for the Parramatta Eels, yet it wasn’t enough to overcome a flat, uninspired performance that began with lazy set starts from Clint Gutherson and ended with unchallenged bombs and predictable crash balls in the red zone. The Cowboys just wanted this one more and weathered the Eels middle like a boxer knowing his outmatched opponent will tire himself out throwing punches, then they moved in for the kill when our spirits were broken. The only thing more painful and difficult than watching this game as an Eels fan would have be playing in it.


 Before you go burning jerseys and abusing the Parramatta social media interns, remember that this game was played in conditions I’d be calling oppressive if I had to run a BBQ on a summer afternoon. Footballers shouldn’t be asked to compete in this, and if you are hosting a home game in conditions like this, it would be nice to not be facing the one team that would train in these conditions throughout an entire pre-season. I know, I know, we don’t choose our opponents or when the Darwin game is played, but maybe it is time for another NRL team to take up the good fight in the territory, because we’ve been going there for nearly a decade now and were still outnumbered significantly by Cowboys fans. Maybe Territorians just hate Eels.

For the numbers inclined:

Completions: Cowboys 34/38, Eels 32/38
Metres: Cowboys 1,676, Eels 1,563
Line Breaks: Cowboys 6, Eels 1
Tackle Breaks: Cowboys 36, Eels 17
Kick Defusals: Cowboys 89%, Eels 43%
Tackles: Cowboys 359, Eels 327
Missed Tackles: Cowboys 17, Eels 36


It’s back-to-back for the Burramattagal Bicep, Ryan Matterson. While tonight the only singing will be a mournful rendition of “Everybody Hurts”, Matto ran for 210 metres with 79 post-contact, threw 3 offloads, was a valuable link man and made 30 tackles. He looked the only one likely at times, and if “almost” offloads were a statistic he would have given the counter hand cramps tallying them up today. You da MVP, Matto.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

It wasn’t a good night for the King, whose uncertainty under the floating kicks of the Cowboys halves meant at best our sets started with a short, flat-footed run and at worst with Clint Gutherson turning to chase a bouncing ball. I liked some of his attacking injections and we should have scored off an early King grubber, but the Cowboys stayed in the territorial battle thanks to their kicking game, which Gutherson did nothing to nullify.


Hayze Perham

2 – Left Wing

Hayze Perham isn’t a winger, so it isn’t really his fault that his opposite crossed for three tries tonight. While the NRL profiles suggest he only gives up 7 centimetres in height to Kyle Feldt, on the field it looked like a stepladder would only have helped him to contest high balls against the Cowboys winger if he cracked one over Feldt’s head before the game. I’d be more upset if he wasn’t the literal last option Brad Arthur has on the wing.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

Well, we finally got Will Penisini into some space. While the man that makes your 12-year-old brother chuckle every time the commentator says his name did some strong work on his carries, the Cowboys used a very NFL-style “bend but don’t break” defence against him and shut down his flick pass and ability to unlock the outside man. That results in an impressive stat sheet for Will, but it didn’t lead to any points on the scoreboard.


Dylan Brown

4 – Left Centre

For the love of Peter Sterling, just move him back to five eighth.


Bailey Simonsson

5 – Right Wing

Bailey Simonsson didn’t do much wrong tonight, but his effort highlighted the lack of X-factor he has as a player. He had a few difficult chances that the best NRL wingers manage to convert, and he didn’t get anywhere near scoring any of them. That massive hit was nice though.


Jake Arthur

6 – Five Eighth

Jake Arthur has a bit too much Corey Norman in his game right now, laying pass after pass back on the inside without engaging the line. While I appreciate the inclusive nature of the Parramatta team this week to get him nearly as many touches as Mitchell Moses, how about we just lean on the incumbent NSW State of Origin halfback instead of giving it to the 19-year-old just as often to throw another inside ball? The only person wishing Jake threw more inside passes is Isaiah Papali’i, who will be glad the Footy Show isn’t around anymore to highlight epic Falcons.


Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Before you go crying in the comments, no, Jake Arthur probably didn’t have a “better” game than Mitch Moses today. This grade reflects Moses going missing out there at a time when the Eels need him to stand up. He should be like Jackson Hastings at the Tigers in games like this one: demanding the ball whenever possible, knowing the result is on his back while an essential rookie lines up next to him. Hastings is averaging nearly 100 touches per game right now, an admittedly insane number, while Mitchell had just 55 tonight, Jake 51, Gutherson 43. We needed more.




8 – Front Row

Reg’s battle with Jason Taumalolo was beautiful, it all too brief. Even the Moustache of the Millennium can’t overcome tropical humidity, so while RCG had a shorter stint than usual out there, the Eels were, as usual, a better team with him on the park.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

This was a “doing too much” game from Mahoney, who fell in love with the crash ball which was just eaten up by the Cowboys defenders. He defended well, but some of the lacking structure of the Parramatta attacking sets falls on the man who starts each and every play.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

What we saw of Junior Paulo tonight was good, there just wasn’t enough of it. I never want to see Oregon Kaufusi have more carries in a game than Junior, and tonight Paulo took 8 runs, Kaufusi 12. It wasn’t a night he would have enjoyed, but this captain’s knock made the performance of English test captains in an Australian Ashes series look inspiring.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Gee I wish he’d held that ball. I’d also suggest that a man as tall as Shaun Lane might find more success just catching the ball and falling over than he would trying to bat it back off kicks.


Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Along with Reed, Ice was the only Eels forward to play 80 minutes tonight and while it wasn’t his finest knock, he got through a mountain of defence and did decent enough work with the ball.


Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

Cyborg took 9 runs for only 63 metres tonight. His average play-the-ball speed was slower than all Eels forwards except Shaun Lane. On the bright side, he didn’t throw any hospital passes to fellow forwards.


Maka Makatoa

14 – Interchange

The “what a great story” shine is wearing off Makahesi Makatoa, who is now just another mildly effective bench middle. I’m sure he could have contributed more than just 20 minutes tonight, and he was very busy in that time, making as many runs as Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane did all match, but he isn’t a difference maker.


Ryan Matterson

15 – Interchange

The only A of the evening goes to our MVP, who was again immense. His work rate in these conditions shouldn’t be possible, especially from a man whose arms are so big he needs auxiliary oxygen tanks just to keep them powered. Somebody should check he doesn’t have a sneaky third lung hiding in his chest somewhere.


Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

I might be crazy, but how about we give the longer stint to Makatoa, the guy who doesn’t do anything wrong, instead of leaving Oregon Kaufusi out there for 33 minutes so he can miss a team high 6 tackles, with 2 more ineffective.


Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

There was to be no Darwin magic this time around for Bryce Cartwright, who on the positive side had a hand in getting the Eels on the scoreboard, but on the negative side was beaten by Tom Dearden. There has to be a better way to use him, but he doesn’t deserve that to be found until he can commit to defence.

This game of football was a massive punish, and the sooner all involved can forget about it and move on, the better. There are plenty of excuses: the conditions, the injuries, the long trip on a shorter week, our insistence on going up early to promote the game, the team being denied fresh water because Brad Arthur requires every bottle of Evian in the state to be placed in the coaches box. Don’t discount the Cowboys because the last time you watched them was probably this time last year: they’re a pretty good footy team this season.

I don’t think this loss signals any greater failings, we were just beaten by a very committed team that played tough defence and were better suited to the slog. A big effort next weekend against the defending premiers and all will be forgotten.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Images and stats courtesy of NRL


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65 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 8 vs Cowboys

  1. Big Derek

    Yep, terrible game , grades are pretty much spot on. But the game highlighted the limitations in Reed Mahoney, that is he doesn’t offer a running game from 9, which is detrimental to the team. Should have been a D for him as well, he as was one dimensional as the 6, which hurts big time.

    Tonight underlined a massive problem! 28 players on NRL contracts , 9 injured with 7 being outside backs, leaving the cupboard bare. Having managed teams in Div 1 juniors, the wing is the hardest position to cover , experience in knowing where to stand, defend and cover is paramount and it showed.

    Frankly expected more from our captain, offered little overall and when your 7 doesn’t demand the ball and try to take the game over, the end result is going to hurt.

    Hopefully the experiment with Dylan in the centres in finished, unfortunately when the 6 only really provides another pass which could easily be erased from the game, probably means the old drawing board needs to brought out.

    On to the Penrith game, fingers crossed they get structures better this week

    1. dDay

      Interesting point Derek about covering the wing position, we can only hope reinforcements are coming.
      The Riff will lap us if we turn up with the structures we offered last night

  2. The Real HN

    Gutho and Moses went missing. Putting Brown on the edge didn’t work as we missed a spark today. Defensively we have issues we can’t turn back defences like the good teams do. Hopefully we can improve as it’s only early but not sure is it an attitude thing?

  3. Stewart

    Reading all the fan pages apparently it’s all Jacob Arthur’s fault. He was the sole reason and should be hung and quartered. And chartwheels will solve all team deficiencies 🤡
    Refreshing to read honest grading report that covers the WHOLE team.

    The team need a rocket and take on the panters (not a spelling mistake) next week

  4. Wile

    Watch the first 30 min again- it was a different story. We had enthusiasm and we’re playing very well. The problem was that we could not score.

    1. Zach

      And then we conceded. If we had managed the contest instead of worrying about the tries not coming right away, we could have still gotten a much better result.

  5. Wally21

    Good and fair synopsis of the games and the players. The fans shouldn’t be going off at Jake Arthur, but his father for thinking he is even close to ready for first grade.
    Moses and Gutho as our highest paid players should have stepped up.
    Please please please please can we have the form five eight of the comp back at five eight?

  6. Zach

    I think that the lineup impacted too much of the game. I feel as though if we had players in their right positions, this result doesn’t happen. I am not saying that Jacob Arthur is bad, but he is green and it is easy to say that he doesn’t need to take on responsibility, but he does.

    It takes two halves, not one. Perham may not be a winger, but all of the tries were what killed morale. We were never going to win no matter what Gutherson, Brown, Moses and Mahoney would have done.

    1. Zach

      I do want to add that Gutherson, Mahoney and Moses could have definitely done more and I am by no means saying that it is because of Arthur. I mean that because he is green, he isn’t used to the system and I think that it is unfair pressure on him. In regards to Perham, I think that it is unfair pressure on him just like with Arthur.

      One point that I would like to add is that the reason why Brown is so important to Moses is that he can read the plays that Moses sets up and vice versa. The kicks Moses put in against the Cowboys are the kicks that he has put in on other games and it is Dylan Brown who chases those kicks. That is not Arthur’s fault as he doesn’t play with Moses every game. That is just a reason why the spine should not be touched.

  7. greg okladnikov

    Fair grades….probably a game better to forget. Need the senior players to try and own the game more. Hopefully the heat and travel, etc don’t take too much recovery time before next week’s game.

    And credit for the line that gave me a laugh – “the team being denied fresh water because Brad Arthur requires every bottle of Evian in the state to be placed in the coaches box”

  8. Parra Pete

    Cowboys were far TOO GOOD. That’s the answer to tonight’s match. If the Eels had been able to make the most of its chances – how many bombed tries – Lane, Simonsen (couple), Penisini,??? that I can remember it wouldv’e been a close game…Missing blokes like Waqa, Tom, Marata, Siva, Stone, Dunster, and Russell doesn’t help either..BUT simple fact – the team was outplayed by a very good side..
    They’ll recover…….

    1. Parra Pete

      Take Olam (Waqa Blake) Remis Smith (Tom Opacic) Brandon Smith (Marata Niukore) Xavier Coates (Sean Russell) George Jennings (Dunster) Tepai Moreao (Ray Stone) out of the Storm side…would they have been able to do better against the Cowdies last night?? Just asking..”You hafta to dance wif them who brung ya”. Injured players are on the way back…Hold ya nerve…Support instead of deport – cheer instead of jeer..

      1. Spark

        That’s true we do have some injuries but to compare Coates (a SOO winger) to Russell who has played what ? 2 games ? Is a bit of a stretch 😂😂 isn’t it funny that im reading .. don’t worry Sean Russell is back soon, like he’s Semi Radradra ! We need to recruit a decent winger.

        1. Parra Pete

          Sean Russell has played two games for 5 tries. Sure, he is no Xavier Coates (yet), but he is better than Penham (at this stage). We have decent wingers – its just that they are all wounded. The point I was making was taking those blokes out of the Storm team, and it would weaken them – just the same as it has weakened the Eels depth, especially against a good footy team like the Cowboys – and the Cowdies are a good team make no mistake about that!!!. Cop a loss without all the bellyache. Shit happens.
          “There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode or a man that couldn’t be throwed” 

          1. Spark

            Pete to be fair, we may have beaten them the last couple of times we played them but the Storm outfit is absolute light years in front of our club.
            Our club has definitely improved but the Storm could lose all of their ‘stars’ and still beat most teams in the competition. Bellyache sets a standard and players aspire to that standard. There are no cuddles given. Terrific coach.

  9. MickB

    Matto and Ice superb. RCG continues to dominate. The Cows played well for the most part, they iced their opportunities and we didn’t punish their mistakes (I’ve never seen a half back pass the ball out from the middle of the field under no pressure before – so haha, Chad).

    Gutho seems to be having a pretty ordinary season. His hallmark consistency and reliability just isnt there. We are much better with Paulo on the field, but that seems to say more about our reserve props than Paulos impact this year. Both these blokes seem to have been “C” graders most weeks, which is frustrating.

    Our defence needs to be sorted out. The backline shuffle shouldn’t be an excuse to bleed points any time a team throws decent shape at us. There should be an effective system that players learn and can respond to most basic attacking moves. We don’t seem to have this and our defence seems to rely on opposition attack being poor.

    The concern tonight for me was that we seemed to execute the game plan but still failed. We kept it simple, rolled through the middle, minimised mistakes, kept pressure on and tried to wear down the Cows. This seemed to boil down to our backline being clunky and ineffective (injuries clearly not helping), and a second more systemic issue to me seems to be our tendency to easily release pressure on the opposition and concede points. Eg we make 4 great dominant tackles join any given set, but there’s inevitably a run, offload, 6 again or penalty that undoes all the hard work.

    We will be better when troops return, but 8 rounds in and the outlook for 2022 isn’t looking rosy to me.

  10. Shelley

    Dylan needs to go back to 6. I don’t care about injuries, we will not beat the Panthers will Arthur at 6 and Brown in the centres, especially considering all the other injuries we have. At least with Dylan at 6 he may create some space for either Lane or whoever plays centre because Arthur is still young and does not take on the line at all and crabs sideways taking away everyone’s room. Jake is not the reason we lost but we cannot beat the best with him at 6 this early in his career.

    It will only be BA’s stubbornness that will stop this ( if we are willing to play a young inexperienced 6 who is not ready yet for first grade, why can’t we play a young inexperienced centre) and if he does not change it, no one from the club should silence the fans, blind Freddy can see it is a disaster waiting to happen against Penrith.

    I don’t demand change and I will support every player that runs onto the field next week but Dylan to the centres and Jake at 6 is not working. Just like it did not work rd 1 against the Titans it will not work next week.

    I hate personal attacks on players and I respect people’s right to defend our players. I have and continue to support our off field management. We win and lose together.

    However, the biggest loser tonight was not on the field but the paid Parra employer who felt it was okay in her official and dare I say well paid capacity to publicly tell Parra fans who are criticising a players selection and I quote,

    “ It is football. Who cares. If you care this much get a life.”

    As a paying member, who spends 5 hour driving to and from each game, to sit in general admission ( who also donated their membership) I find this hard to take, especially considering the person telling me not to care and get a life gets to sit in the cooperate section each home game, a game that is only being played because fans have built this club to become what it has. I might not agree with the views of these fans or the way they express it but her response was so wrong and out of order.

    Let me say this very clearly. This club only has the workforce, the stadium, the team and the Leagues club because Parra fans care passionately about this club. I love my team. I loved it before these current players and coaches and I will love it after they leave.

    I will go to Penrith next week, pay to sit on the hill, be abused and mocked by Panther supporters because I love my team and I will support them no matter what. Maybe I should get a life and spend my money elsewhere.

    I hope the club addresses this. Have an opinion, defend the players sure, but don’t tell the people who have built this club and pay their money to keep it going and employ you , to get a life. Big F grade for our executive producer. Terrible take.

    1. Anonymous

      Agree completely. Saw the tweet as well – couldn’t believe it as a long committed Eels fan as well. Seems to be deleted now.

    2. Anonymous

      Nicely said. Put Dylan at 6, rest Jake and bring in young Sam Louizu in the centres. Isn’t he killing it in NSW Cup, plus he already has NRL experience too.

      1. Shelley

        I personally find the injury excuse a little hard to accept as reason for BA picking Jake. He was picked game 1 with the intention to move Dylan to bring Jake on. There was no other option as Jake does not play any other position. It was a crazy idea that backfired and almost cost us in rd 1 and it is a crazy idea today. It has been the plan before injuries struck as BA kept it as the option until Rd3 and Jake got injured, even when it meant we effectively played with 3 bench players against the Sharks. It did not make sense in rd 1 to move Dylan and it does not make sense now to move him with the excellent form he has displayed.

        Before rd 1 we already had two outside backs out with ACL’s. We effectively only had two specialist wingers left in our top 30 at least until Sivo returns mid season. That is bad roster management.

        Teams get injuries as the season goes on and it would not have been hard to predict that at some point we would get more injuries in the outside backs. With two spots available in the top 30 the moment Haze was out we should have got an outside back into the top 30, either by promoting or getting in a player. We have ‘no options’ is just that an excuse. We do have options, we had the option to fill an available top 30 spot with an outside back. Our coaches and O’Neil decided not to and that is on them. They can’t hide behind our injuries are bad so don’t criticise us or block fans from criticising the selection.

        I am not sure if Louizu is ready, but I had the same questions about Will last year. But I do know that Jake is not ready, (he is not alone as not many 19 yr olds can handle this position so young) especially against good to very good teams. If Louizu is our only outside back option then that is who we should use. Just like if Jake was our only half option that is who we should use. He is not our only option and he should not be picked when Dylan and Mitch are available.

        I can’t defend BA on this. I feel it is a terrible decision one that could have a destabilising impact on this club.

        1. Spark

          Agree 100%. It appears that BA is trying to turn Jake into a utility that can play multiple positions. He (and the coaching staff) can obviously see things that I personally can’t. Well that’s ok, he’s the coach but damn he’s making it hard for the kid!

        2. Zero58

          It has become obvious why they let Salmon go. He would have stood in the way of Jake’s promotion.
          Jake from Mr Sixties training reports was training the house down and showing great promise. But, the reality is training is another world to first grade.
          Let Jake play Reggies to mature as a good team player. I not sure that he will be brilliant but certainly good.
          It is not yet his time. BA should very careful in not destroying his confidence by what is happening now and the loaded critism that cones with it.
          At this stage Jake is not harmonizing with the team. Why? He is just a tad too slow.

  11. Chris Stone

    Look it’s no secret our backline is suffering right now. I hope this is a wake up call that Parra can’t just wing it sorry for the pun but we may actually have to use our cash now to get a winger. Either that or tell Waqa, Sivo, Marata they all need to drink some cement. Seriously frustrated knowing the players we have out right now I only hope it all comes together in the back of the year. Is there something wrong with our training approach that we have so many injuries ?

    1. Gol

      It’s just bad luck, maybe combined with some roster management issues. Russell and Dunster we lost to foul play, Sivo is long term, and with only 28 on the roster (including a few guys not first grade ready) we’re thin in half and outside backs. There’s not much in the market either, and until we fill those 30 spots we won’t be able to get clearance to play guys like Cini or Rankin.

      1. Colin Hussey

        Gol, not sure that Rankin can do that much but Cini works hard and is an option. In what I have seen with Hands, he would be a better option than JA, that is of course if JA is picked again.

        Watching the game last night, I could not watch it all, and gave up with 10 to go as the eels were well shot by then.

        The question is simply did the eels want to play in Darwin in that climate? Sure they seemed competitive for 20 odd minutes until the first try was scored against them, shows that big wingers will always beat a smaller and less experienced one. The winger wanderers were also of no help as we seemed to have a return of the Fergs in the amount of gaps left on the outside.

        This was a game that showed that the eels need a lot of self assessments, as there were too many who were there it seemed to be simply making up the numbers, unless they can seriously look at themselves both individually and as a team, its going to be a long season, with questionable results.

  12. Billy

    I’m placing the blame squarely on our leaders here – Moses, Gutho and Paulo need to be taking control here and I expect a hell of a lot more from them than we’ve seen in any of our three losses.

    Is Mahoney ignoring calls? Just making poor decisions? Has he had his kicking licence removed after the terrible kick out on the full two weeks ago?

    Agreed that Penisini and Matto were clearly our best on park. Can we please have Matto in the starting lineup next week?

    There’s no point blaming the rookies like Perham and Arthur, who are both out of position but the best options we have. Fingers crossed for reinforcements next week though, as I think we’re all agreed neither are near our top team.

    And what the hell is with our inability to shut down offloads this year? This seems to be what’s killing us in defence.

    1. Anonymous

      Hi Billy. I think Reeds biggest issue is our team have done nothing for years to address our painfully slow play the balls. He is rarely provided options. Additionally we have also failed miserably to address our tackle techniques to slow the ruck when defending. Players are continually left on the ground. We have poor technique in controlling the ruck and its been this way for years. We have 3 coaches and 2 consultants and no one can see this?

  13. Offside

    Personally I’m just fed up that we loose games the same way our edge defence seems to never have been addressed.

    As for young Jake it’s not his fault that he isn’t very good it’s the coaching staff for allowing things to get this far with him.

    Overall it’s a big dissapointment tonight and if I’m honest even though we’re in the 8 the start to the season has been very underwhelming I feel other teams have improved from last season and were the same team

  14. Milo

    Look i have only seen the replay now, yes conditions were bad but thats our choice for choosing to play in Darwin.
    To me our defence all season has been avg to be honest. There is no consistency each week.
    To me we have not improved in comparison to last year, and this is a concern. I hope they can turn it around and i admit we didnt have these injuries in 2021 to outside backs, but surely we need DB back to where he plays best. This is not a dig at the replacement but you must pick the best team for me.
    We did lose tonight in the middle and the outside backs looked flat. The play the ball seems slow and again we have seen this before.
    V frustrating.

  15. Anonymous

    The ‘jake experiment’ should be over. There were times Dylan never did touch the ball when we were attacking. BA should really have a look at his troops and really pick the best players in the game. If Dylan is still playing as Center v Penrith, we might go negative in our +/- points differential

  16. Chris K

    Another week where we could have gained a significant foothold in the Top 4 given other results but fail – slipping to 5th this time.

    I know we go to promote the game in Darwin, and there are probably financial advantages to the club, but having a ‘home game’ where we play the only tropics based team in the comp at the Top End in 31 Degree, windless night with 80% humidity …. well ….

    Focusing on this part of Gol’s commentary above, I’m not reading too much into this performance, as I am not underestimating the effect of the Cowboys having being immersed in training within these conditions from pre-season through to now.

    It is a massive advantage in how they would be adapted to play last night, where our lads would have suffered immeasurably given they had absolutely no conditioning for it.

    Cowboys were good, we probably would have been better on a level playing field in terms of the above – not saying we would have won, but I don’t think we would now be sitting in 5th.

    Given we are doing our bit to expand the game in Darwin, surely after the conditions last night, we would have some standing to ask the NRL to schedule this game in July or August next year?

  17. Peninsulaeel

    The author of this says “ I don’t think this loss signals any greater failings, we were just beaten by a very committed team”
    If that is your conclusion, your takeaway from this game then You are not seeing the obvious. Irrespective of injuries, the decision by the coach to split the spine to accommodate his slow and ill-equipped son at 5/8 is clearly a coaching fail. Weakening a strength to strengthen a weakness is a flawed philosophy. It has negative impacts on our defence, our attack and now it seems the attitude of the players. This continued selection of JA is corrosive and blind fredie can see it.

    1. Wilhelmina

      What part of ‘we only had 19 fit and eligible players’ are you struggling to understand? JA is in the starting team because there is literally nobody else.

      Note, I’m not talking about his selection on the bench in previous games, this is specifically about him playing 6 the past two weeks.

      And if you offer Matto to centre as the solution, I’m going to give you your own argument – when he has been our best player the past two weeks, moving him out of the forwards is weakening a strength.

      Can you offer a solution, using fit and eligible players, that doesn’t weaken the position you are moving that player from? I can’t, because they otherwise wouldn’t be the first choice in their usual position. It’s a nonsensical argument.

      1. Spark

        I think “ Weakening a strength to strengthen a weakness is a flawed philosophy” says it all. The spine is the most important part of a team. Never , ever break up a winning and functional spine.

        1. Wilhelmina

          Look, I totally get it – I’m not remotely saying JA should be at 6. But I’m yet to see anyone offer a viable alternative that doesn’t suffer from exactly the same problem that this solution does.

          If you can’t give a better answer, please don’t tell me it’s nepotism or the coaches’ fault. Sometimes you have to recognise that a bad option is the best option you have.

          1. Spark

            I haven’t heard the word nepotism on here yet but it’s definitely the coaches fault. He picks the side.
            Zac Cini is a tall rugged player was given dispensation to play. He has played well in the reggies and would allow the personnel to revert to their ‘natural’ positions’
            Carty or Matto could play centre at a pinch but leave the spine !
            If BA picks the same side against the Panthers and we get lapped through that left corridor, BA deserves every brickbat that is thrown his way and more.

        2. Parra Matters

          I agree with all the comments here, especially Wilhemina. When supporters cry nepotism re Jake’s selection, let me tell you that implies favourtism. Brad Arthur has done his son no favours here.

          Not sure if correct but I did read that the Club receives $1 million from the Northern Territory government to take this game there as part of a tourism promotion and I guess some poor Parra supporters would have made the trip up. Feel very sorry for you.

      2. Offside

        The fit 19 players argument doesn’t justify weakening your team there are exceptions granted to add development players or players from outside your top 30.

        BA has stuffed up with this selection he was at fault with team selection in the loss to the tigers I’m not saying sack him but hold him accountable

        1. Wilhelmina

          Sorry, but this is yet another non-answer. Who are you promoting? Justify it with form, experience, etc.

          Otherwise this is criticism rather than critique, and I’m not interested.

          1. MickB

            I agree. At the end of the day, JA for a couple of weeks was probably the right move, until you have the benefit of hindsight. For me now I’d be moving Dyl back to 6, putting Carty into centre and promoting someone out of NSW Cup in as another forward option off the bench.

            I don’t think JA is out there playing his natural game. I imagine he’s been told; don’t over play your hand, get your defence right, pass it onto the regular first graders and let them make things happen. He’s probably doing what he’s been told, and it’s effectively paralysed his game and made him crab, not take on the line, look slow etc. I think to the point now where more time in this first grade squad with a make shift backline is going to do more harm than good.

          2. Colin Hussey

            Unfortunately, Cartwright as much as he has some ball skills, he has some handling and go missing problems, and certainly not a long minutes player either.

            With 7 players on the injured list, and 5 of them all backs, with Marata a fill in, the replacements are pretty much stop gap selections, although one or two of them may be ready for next weekend

          3. MickB

            Fair … but I thought fitness-wise Carty was good for 80mins (at least what I remember of pre season training reports). I agree he’s got errors in him and has never been known for his defence, but it would mean at least Dylan is not out of position, which will help both Dylan’s involvement and probably works better with Moses.

            Looking at it all another way – we had 3 halves in the team who all should have been attack and kicking options. We didn’t use this advantage at all.

          4. Offside

            Ok I’m promoting the either one of the reserve centres better risk reward then messing up your spine

      3. Offside

        The fit 19 players argument doesn’t justify weakening your team there are exceptions granted to add development players or players from outside your top 30.

        BA has stuffed up with this selection he was at fault with team selection in the loss to the tigers I’m not saying sack him but hold him accountable

      4. Peninsulaeel

        What part of “The spine is the most important part of a modern NRL team” don’t you understand? Given than DB has been on fire at 5/8 and MM has been on fire, it is nonsensical to move Brown to a less influential position on the football field. If you can’t understand this then I can not help you. Any solution between Cartwright, Matto, Perham or the 19th man to centre would be a better solution than the one chosen by BA. Hell even his boy at 4 to leave Brown at 5/8 makes more sense. You do not disrupt your halves pairing that are in career best form unless you have a young prodigy in the wings & JA ain’t no Fittler or A Johns.

    2. Colin Hussey

      True comment, but how many fans have been calling for DB to play in the centers this year?

      1. Peninsulaeel

        Colin, yes there were some fans calling for Brown to play Centre, they were misguided, what is disappointing is the coach has followed this flawed approach.

  18. Johnno

    A lesson learnt, sometimes staying in the “grind”, “earning the right”, isnt enough, especially if you cant convert your chances into points. Our edge defence( compress + up and in) isnt working, and our red zone attack options are poor, and or ineffective. Yes loss of 1st choice players limits us, but defence is a system, not a 1 game undertaking. Our defence for a couple of years now has been suspect. Both Cronulla and Cowboys have srengthened their defence in the last 6 months. Change or revision of these 2 critical areas is required

    1. Trapped in the 1970’s

      I agree re the defence. The greater majority of the squad has been together for a few years now and the defensive structures are as bad as ever. Is it new eyes in that area that are making the difference at Cronulla and the Cowboys, so let’s join the ………
      The result against a bog average knights side just papered over the cracks. So many soft tries were scored whereas against a side with some defensive pride and application and the team struggles to turn position and possession into points. Seriously is Reed of state of origin quality when he doesn’t run or kick the ball at all in a game. I think Jnr is playing a ball player role much too often, receiving a pass from a forward to pass to a forward rather than drawing in players when he runs it which is his best asset. Gutho runs the ball back like he has a shirt full of sore ribs, which he probably has, but his runs see him just ease into the defense, no threat, ever.
      JA is inexperienced and I can’t knock him for that but his passing does seem a bit slow and robotic and there is no surprise about anything he does.
      There is no denying that the conditions were energy sapping last night and the injury list long but I don’t want to add to the list of excuses. I want to see an effort that overcomes the adversities and stamps them as a hard nosed tough team every week. They are well short of that and realistically any serious shot at the title.

  19. Spark

    I thought we had plenty of energy and enthusiasm especially in the first half. I was especially pleased with our handling in the conditions.
    All their tries were on the left side where JA and Perham were defending.
    These days you need a tall bustling winger. Feldt had an absolute field day.
    I am led to believe that the club had a dispensation to play Zac Cini and his height and ruggedness may have been a better choice which would move Perham to his preferred centre spot AND Brown back to 5/8.
    Im not going to go over what has already been said about JA.
    My biggest concern is that JA may turn out to be another Kyle Flanagan. Maligned and criticised by not only Eels fans but others.
    It not JAs fault he is in the side ! And he does his level best every time he’s picked but the scrutiny on the kid WILL effect his game and his confidence moving forward.
    The decison to split up the halves to cover an injury was ludicrous and simply bad coaching but it’s a well that BA seems intent to revisit again and again.
    Hopefully he doesn’t kill JA career in the process.
    On another note, I was very concerned that we seemed to give up and throw in the towel with 5 minutes to go. We should be playing for 80 minutes not 75!
    Very poor.

  20. dDay

    I thought the forwards laid a reasonable platform, Matto being the MVP but Reg, papalii, Jnr playing well in tough conditions.
    Moses, Gutho and Cash were well below their potential.
    But a D+ for BA, his stubbornness is a liability. Moving Dylan out of position and the selections weakened our strengths and created the weakness down the Perham wing, there were no adjustments in tactics at half time and the bench was again under-utilised in 31oC. I don’t see how this improves.

  21. Shaun

    The bright side is that the traditional late season form slump has come early this season.

  22. Big Derek

    Watching the team in the opposition 20 is similar to watching Div 1 in the Penrith comp juniors at times, crash play after crash play. How come we haven’t understood that there are no big kids that just can’t be stopped.

    Most of us thought that our left edge would be a weakness, and the Cowboys took advantage of it, big time. Maybe part of a solution was to get dispensation to play someone like Cini, yes it doesn’t do a NRL registered player a lot of good, but experienced outside backs are a necessity.

    Our attack at times is pedestrian and boring and has been that way for a while, when the 9 offers no running game at all and we have a player in the halves who seems to be there purely to add a pass, no wonder we look average.

    Obviously, when players are fit and back in the side, there will be more optimism, but to see we are still behind a team like the Storm who basically have no junior base is frustrating. Perhaps it’s time to review how we are set up. Probably an over reaction, but these last few weeks have brought multiple questions to the table, from game plans, selections, coaching and structure. Then again, that is the life of a Parra fan.

  23. adz4parra

    Just a few additional points not raised by others. The NRL has to stop penalising teams trying to bring games to Northern Australia but scheduling them against the Cowboys. It’s the reason Souths Sydney stopped taking games to Cairns, as it essentially becomes a home game for the away side with the crowd and conditions suiting them.

    The Cowboys have absolutely no interest in taking their own home games to Cairns or Darwin, so they should not be rewarded by being gifted games against southern teams that do.

    Todd Payten was asked in a midweek press conference whether playing in Darwin was an advantage and he said something along the lines of “I’d way rather play them there then at Parramatta stadium” going on to say “we have a huge fan base” and something to the effect of “the oppressive conditions are exactly what we are used to.”

    You could tell from the way the Cowboys defended that they were much better suited to the conditions. On about 10 occasions, they were able to race up on our sweep plays and snuff out the last pass knowing the humidity would make catch and pass plays just about impossible. It worked. We should have been kicking in behind like they did. And the few times we did, we were just one bounce away from getting a result (Simmonson would have scored had he actually been paying attention and not giving Tualagi a 10 metre start).

    If that game was played in any other conditions, we would have scored at least 3-4 tries with crisper ball movement not allowed by the humidity.

    Our kick returns were terrible all night and our kicking game was bog average. Two things you can’t afford when you’re to against the conditions.

    Add to that the fact the Cowboys haven’t put 80mins together like that for about 3 seasons and it was just one of those nights.

  24. Wilhelmina

    Ok, top 30 questions. As I understand it, we had signed Curtis Scott, but he is facing criminal charges so the contract has not been registered by the NRL. Do we therefore need to keep a roster spot open in case he is cleared (like Tui at the Storm)?

    I’m assuming we would still be bound to honour the contract if/when he was available, rather than saying he’s voided it by not being available while awaiting trial. Obviously, different scenario if convicted.

    If so, it might explain the reluctance to promote a young and not ready player into what would be the last roster spot. We effectively got forced into that last year with JA, and we’re now dealing with the consequences. Plus, we’d then have far too many outside backs in the second half of the season, and we’d all be complaining about the lack of forward back-up.

    May not be a factor, but it’s something that occurred to me this morning.

    1. Anonymous

      We weren’t forced into it last year. We chose to play Jake rather than select Jordan Rankin who was outstanding in the NSW Cup.

      1. Wilhelmina

        I thought we couldn’t get approval for JA to play as we had a roster spot? Was Rankin top 30? I know he isn’t this year and he chose not to go to Queensland last year.

        Doesn’t change my other questions or point re too many backs if we have Scott though.

      2. Anonymous

        Jordan was definitely in the 30 in 2021 but Coach, in his wisdom, selected Jake who wasnt. Jake was only allowed to play if he was promoted to the top 30 which was done at the last minute given we had a spot available. If Jordan had been selected there was no need to upgrade Jake at that time.
        Jordan is not part of this years top 30.
        All good.

        1. Gol

          Rankin didn’t want to go into the Queensland bubble so didn’t travel up for the second half of the year, hence Jake getting promoted. Rankin was re-signed this year but to a NSW Cup deal so he isn’t in the 30 and Jake is.

          The NRL isn’t going to give any dispensations or allowances while a team has roster spots available, so we’re not getting any help unless we promote someone.

          I doubt we have to hold anything for Curtis Scott, so my best guess is that we are holding one spot in the roster for a “just in case” to do what Penrith did last year with Pangai should someone hit them market, and another spot spare for an emergency. I’d say we are at emergency right now, but the club would weigh up whether “wasting” that spot for a week or two of Zac Cini or Komolafe is worth it over playing the long game.

          I can see logic in holding that spot until later. It’s round 8, we’re entrenched in the eight and have four outside backs due to return in the next month or so. It might be more useful later to promote Rodwell, Ogden or even someone like Hands should Reed get injured, though the development squad becomes available to us in a couple weeks too. It’s probably too late to make an emergency move for an outside back, we’ve suffered it this long, may as well just wait it out.

          1. Colin Hussey

            According to the injury list 2 of the players are listed as returning in round 9 Naiduki & Opi, with Russel the following week.

            Unless there are injuries from Darwin, its likely that JA will go back to NSW cup. Personally I would not like to see him picked unless injured. He and the coach need some breathing space after reading the attacks against JA and BA, which for me is totally unfair.

  25. pete

    Great read Gol.
    Grades were very accurate. We were terrible, from what I saw of the game (and that is not much). We were suffering badly and desperately off the pace. Cows train in that 87% humidity so it was easy for them. Just like at training… No excuse though. We were out competed and as the game went on we were run ragged. No doubt Cows game plan was to tire us out in the humidity.
    We need to play the Raiders up there as we just handed the Cows another home game…
    Our guys just looked flat footed and fatigued and Cows on a training run..
    We need to get back to basics and focus hard on the next game. Get some Defencive pride and Hopefully get some players back…
    Go Eels!!

  26. Zero58

    It seems the concensus Jake is not the answer. Why? He is simply not ready for the intensity of first grade. And he wont be for another season. He needs to better learn his craft in the Reggies.

    Can someone tell me how Jake is a better player than Cartwright. Whatever way you look at it – he is not! That is a major selection problem – even Rankin would be more creative.

    Gol uses the word magic with Cartwright but, when he comes on so late in the game he is desperate to make an impact and it doesn’t work. He needs more time to assimilate to the game. Shaun Lane was exhausted when he was given a break – Cartwright should have come on earlier.
    This tells me Arthur still cannot get the bench rotation right. The second half attack was impaired by young Jake and essentially because he is too slow. Why pass the ball in attack backwards and he does that often.
    And Parra still play panic football – it is obvious when they don’t get their attack shapes right. It’s so predictable that the opposition have no need to panic.
    It is still early days and there is much to do. This competition looks like it might even out and every year there is always a round when the favorites get done.
    And, finally why wouldn’t they allow a drinks break after 20 minutes each half – it was so hot and humid. It’s not good for any team to play in such suffocating conditions.

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