The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Panthers


Parramatta Eels 22

Penrith Panthers 20

Well wasn’t that something? The Parramatta Eels finally went one better than “matching up well” with Penrith and delivered the Panthers their first home loss since tries were worth three points. Parramatta fans are known to go all out in celebration of big victories and I duly obliged,  which explains why the grades are a day late:

The Eels now hold victories over the Storm and Panthers, aka “the only two good teams this year”, on their home turf. It’s a fairly convincing answer to the question “can the Eels win the comp?” and one that should warm the hearts of Parramatta fans in the unlikely event they lose another game this season.

Well Penrith fans are taking this loss well:

The bad is reserved for everybody else who isn’t a Parramatta fan, as they are, without question, argument or debate, forced to consider the Eels the real deal in 2022. The scary part? This team can only get better as the casualty ward clears and combinations develop. Hope you enjoyed your memes while you could.



X-Factor has decided most of the recent Battles of the West, so it was nice to see Parramatta on the right side of it all come full time. The Reed Mahoney penalty try was a brave, but correct call. It’s very easy for a referee to lean back into doubt and go with the penalty and professional foul, but I’m happy with that being called a try every day of the week. The obstruction to deny Brian To’o was also a good “letter of the law” call on a rule the NRL has tried to make black or white in its interpretation.

I’m also glad the blown captain’s challenge didn’t cost us in the end. Challenges are just so important that I don’t see the point of risking them on anything but the surest bets in the early stages of a game. Referees are taking a tougher stance on loose carries and players need to be aware of that risk.

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Parramatta 54%, Penrith 46%
Completions: Parramatta 36/42 85%, Penrith 30/37 81%
Run metres: Penrith 1,735, Parramatta 1,699
Average set distance: Penrith 46.9 metres, Parramatta 40.5
Offloads: Parramatta 17, Penrith 8
Missed Tackles: Parramatta 29, Penrith 33
Ineffective Tackles: Penrith 30, Parramatta 12
Penalties Received: Parramatta 6, Penrith 2
Scoreboard: Parramatta 22, Penrith 20




A very tough call here, but I’m going to go with Junior Paulo for two reasons. First was his heroic captain’s knock in a game where several members of the side were coming in without training most of the week due to illness. He offloaded aggressively, did some ball playing and still ate his way through 207 metres from 23 carries. The second is that I’ve run out of Ryan Matterson nicknames. I did not expect “nicknames for muscular guys” to be in my Google search history this year, but there we go. Junez, you da MVP.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

The King dug deep in this one, popping up everywhere and making clutch play after clutch play. My favourite was the forced dropout where he somehow threw Stephen Crichton into the in-goal despite being on his own back. The Reed Mahoney penalty try was the result of that repeat set, and that clip plus his crunching shot on Nathan Cleary extends the Clint Gutherson “excellence in defence” montage beyond the 10 hour limit of YouTube uploads.

Speaking of 10 hour YouTube compliations, one of this celebration please:


Hayze Perham

2 – Left Wing

Ivan Cleary may not have made the game, but the coaching notes he scribbled on a napkin and threw out the hospital window must have simply said “Hayze”. Penrith directed kick after kick at the makeshift flanker then punished him on every kick return, but Hayze Perham handled himself well. It would be hard to drop him from the side after this performance, but Sean Russell is ready and ultimately presents as the better long term option.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

There are seasoned veterans that don’t make the heads-up play Will Penisini did for the Eels first try, spotting Viliame Kikau down in backplay and running short side, getting a freakish offload away for Clint Gutherson to score untouched. His name might mean I can never search for his stats at work, but Will is certainly showing the signs of being a star.


Tom Opacic

4 – Left Centre

It was a strong return for Tom Opacic, who did a lot of dirty work that his shape, size and style isn’t really suited to. He’s the perfect backup for a squad and will never let you down, but his biggest contribution to the game was allowing Dylan Brown to play in the halves again.


Bailey Simonsson

5 – Right Wing

I’m not going to hold a Tyrone May double against the man charged with defending him, Viliame Kikau had one of those games that delivered his reputation and there wasn’t much Bailey Simonsson could do about it. Simonsson is improving in the hard yards department and racking up a body count with his rushing defence, this time cutting Izack Tago in half like he was Ray Stone. I’m not going to be voting for him as “buy of the year” anytime soon but I’m glad he’s around.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

It was a more classic version of the Dylan Brown Experience in the return of its original line-up position, putting in a huge defensive effort, running the ball frequently and being right on the spot for the match-sealing try. His short kicking game had some good moments too, and the Eels are really settling into this “weapons on both sides” halves combination nicely.


Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

It was a game that demanded control, so while Mitchell Moses didn’t deliver an eye-popping performance he was very good in keeping Parramatta in the game when the field position battle tipped the Panthers way. I’m sure he would appreciate more time to kick than he got for most of the night, and his defensive efforts were solid. It is probably a good sign for Parramatta that they can win a game like this without Moses or Brown playing a dominant role.




8 – Front Row

The Moustachioed Monolith was on the droopy side this week, confirmed as one of the players laid up with illness, but you wouldn’t have known that watching Reagan Campbell-Gillard rip and tear against his former side. Where Junior Paulo is the triple threat of passing, offloading and running, Reg is an incredibly effective, single purpose tool for bashing through defensive walls.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

It was a good night for “Chasing the Cash”, who controlled the ruck well and was in the right place to create the penalty try opportunity. He got back to his high effort defence as well, making a team high 49 tackles with one miss, and most importantly his single kick had absolutely no chance of going out on the full. He’s learning.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

A massive gold star for Captain Bowh-lo, who was an absolute menace and in one of his “they can’t handle me” moods. The offload was back in a big way, he wasn’t going to ground in tackles and his passing game is creating plenty of chances and a lot of extra metres on the edge of the ruck. On a night where yards were hard to come by and the match was won and lost in the middle of the field, Junior Paulo was a man among boys.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Brad Arthur may not get all of his bench calls right, but Shaun Lane is definitely a more effective player over 60 minutes rather than 80. His workrate could still improve, but his offload created the penalty try and that deft kick deserved a result when Hayze Perham couldn’t stay in the field of play. His defensive effort was strong, and when Lane is tackling properly, he’s playing well.


Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Ice was hot on the heels of Junior Paulo for best on ground tonight, breaking tackles like the Papa we fell in love with last year and coming so close to the line a couple of times. His defensive workrate was again phenomenal but it was the venom to his running that I loved the most. He’s rounding into form.


Nathan Brown

13 – Lock

With Ryan Matterson in great touch and Junior Paulo playing distributor, Nathan Brown doesn’t quite have the role we are used to in this team. Luckily, he is still very effective as a bash and barge ball carrier and an energetic presence in defence, leading line speed even if he doesn’t always stick the tackle. That wasn’t a problem tonight, making 33 tackles and missing one, and if this is the version of Cyborg we get all year, I’ll be a happy customer.


Maka Makatoa

14 – Interchange

A short but effective stint from Mak Attak, who must have enjoyed relinquishing “most ridiculous hairstyle on the field” for a week thanks to that shag carpet off cut that Viliame Kikau calls a mop.


Ryan Matterson

15 – Interchange

I avoided the great “who else could we play there?” debate about Dylan Brown in the centres for my own mental health, but gee that big step Ryan Matterson put on Dylan Edwards to score a crucial try had me thinking “maybe he’d go alright out wide”. It was a just reward for a man who is playing with limitless energy, offloading at will and making metres for fun. His shift to the edge only improved his performance and I hope it is something we start to see every week from Brad Arthur.


Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

The NRL website tells me Oregon Kaufusi had a 100.1% tackling efficiency last night, so it is nice to see Big Country breaking the laws of physics to make up for his ordinary efforts last week. He wasn’t a big impact player last night, but he did good while he was out there.


Bryce Cartwright

17 – Interchange

It turns out I am a lot more forgiving of Brad Arthur leaving a man on the bench for 80 minutes when we knock off the defending premiers in front of their own fans.

Wins like this one are what makes being a footy fan worth it. I woke up on the floor still wearing my shoes, my head feeling like it had been used by Ray Stone for tackling practice all night, but just the memory of the previous night’s win had me so sprightly I could have run a marathon. I didn’t, I sat on the lounge eating hash browns and watching the replay, but it is just the first of many times over the next few years that the memory of this game is going to make me smile.

Magic Round came early for the Eels, but that just means we get to double up next weekend against the revitalised Roosters. Now that we’ve cracked the two top premiership threats it would be nice for Parramatta to move on to breaking hoodoos, starting with Sydney. It’ll be a cracking time, no doubt.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL

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45 thoughts on “Post Game Grades – Round 9 vs Panthers

  1. Zach

    Agreed with the grades. I will say that I thought that Gutherson and Brown were both an A+, but admittedly that is my opinion.

  2. Colin Hussey

    Great game overall, I am no fan of the gang tackles, with bulldozer push and shove that is part of the Riff tactics, and push the players back. Its a specialty of the riff players though, while it was as per usual from them, the best really is seeing them lose with those tactics along with the no try try from them.

    In watching the game and especially the riff wide players, they have an attack feature in several of the backs, that is something that the eels need to watch closely when they play them again, and its with several of the backs who have perfected their run/attacking plays that more than not give them a try which is huge as they go on to win matches.

    The tactic is classic as the ball carriers who are usually fast and good readers of the play but in those attacking plays near the try line rarely play an upright straight running game. Rather they get to the opposition outside players with stooped and bent back in order to get under the opposition as they try to tackle them as they are bent over, and getting under the arms of the opposition defence, which allows them to dive over the line and score a try. With an excellent goal kicker in their team that does not miss many attempts, the eels need to watch that tactic and work on mastering it for themselves as well, especially when they play the riff and other teams adopting similar tactics.

  3. BDon

    Tks Gol, no-one went anywhere near a C, the game at its best. Just on Shaun Lane, I’ve noticed often that in a struggling set, his run lifts the go forward, he’s awkward to tackle when he runs hard, but our patterns seem to use others more.

    1. John Eel

      I just wish he stopped running in slow motion. He does have a big stride however.

      I thought he had a good game

  4. MickB

    We are a much better team when Paulo plays as a prop first and uses his half back skills second, as opposed to the other way around. We are also much better when there’s an even distribution of ball carrying to gain metres across the team, rather than just expecting the forwards to build a platform. Simmonson and Penisini were fantastic in this regard.

    Was a good game to watch. High intensity and on the edge of the seat stuff, albeit we really didn’t need to make it as close as it was.

    Going a bit off piste – Dylan Edwards getting far too much of a wrap this year. He has little composure under pressure and his stats come off the back of Penrith being so aggressive and dominant in defence. Moses is by far and away the best long kicker in the game, but when you are kicking off your own 30 under pressure set after set, it’s easy for Dylan Edwards to chalk up 20m every set he brings the ball back. When tested under high balls or as last man in defence, he’s more often than not found wanting. (End rant).

    Matterson has been huge recently. Loving what I’m seeing from him.

    I think the test for us now is to show we can do this stuff week in week out. You can’t afford to put in a weak performance every 2 or 3 games when it comes to the finals.

  5. Parra Pete

    Fantastic game between two very good sides. It was just a little bit better than the final loss to the Panthers last season, that is in my opinion. Maybe because Parra won this time.
    What I really liked about it was the toughness of the match and no cheap shots from either team (except Mahoney getting thrown in back play by the Panthers 6.
    Amazing how a packed crowd can generate a response from teams. Loved hearing the Parra chant go up when the boys needed a lift. How tough is Isaah Papaliti…I reckon he is going better that last season..What a pity he is going to Wests in 2023…He’ll be missed…

  6. Milo

    Great read Gol, and grades well deserved. I like the Penisini reference…yes a few code of conducts breached here.

  7. Prometheus

    Our left edge became more potent when Matto replaced Lane. Still can’t fathom why Papa will be a tiger next year. He was outstanding. Will P. is a beauty.

      1. Prometheus

        Well that’s a bit of science there Rocket. Parra’s got money too, we should have offered the same or signed him up earlier.

  8. dDay

    “Well wasn’t that something” – yep that was awesome. So good to see the Eels come into a game with smart tactics (the offload to neutralize the gang tackle) and stick to the tactics for 80 mins.
    A lot of quality performances; I had Junior as MVP because that set the tone for Papalii/Gutho to play outstanding games too.
    It felt that the Riff were pushing us backwards, they won the battle of yardage. But the eels stuck to their guns and Moses kept lobbing it down for Edwards – just a composed effort.

    1. Shaun

      At times in the second half Parra was getting belted on every set and going nowhere. The patience and toughness showed to ride that period out was fantastic.

        1. Shaun

          Indeed. I hope it is something the team takes a lot of confidence from and build on it.

  9. Shaun

    Simonsson has really improved over the past few weeks. This was his best game for Parra. If he keeps improving there will soon be a different (and welcome) selection headache for BA.

  10. Zero58

    That was what you can call a diehard performance. I am happy to say I tipped them to win. Whereas Penrith always seem to make it personal, Parra did also – there was no give an take. Watching the players interact after the game and clearly the Penrith players were annoyed they lost this one.
    Two things for discussion.
    Why didn’t they take that penalty shot at goal which would have given them a double digit lead. It would have also allowed the boys to have a rest because Moses would taken at least a minute to kick it and then they get the ball back. I really believe that was dumb. The Storm take every point they can get – Parra are yet to have that mentality. The defence on both sides was strong – they should have trusted their defence with the ball.
    And why is no one commenting about Sutton chatting the team about time wasting. I do recall last year when Sam Walker ran back to his try line to run down time. And it was accepted by all.
    Sutton had a reasonable game last night but he tends to put Parra into a crisis with some of his decisions as in the past. He is not a good referee.

    1. !0 Year Member

      Interesting point. I was going to bag Moses for the errant pass to Penisi….. Thinking he has no idea how to over a game….. But perhaps the coach told them to go for a try…. Either way…. If Moses was playing heads up footy… He would have seen that taking a tackle was the better option. Whatever the decision…. Out almost brought the Panthers level. Very happy with the win….. Just want more composure.

    2. dDay

      I thought the decision was about going for the jugular and field position, good decision on both fronts I thought. Taking 2 points and working out from our end when the Riff were hammering us with their gang tackling was the alternative which was more defensive.
      Sutton & his touches did miss the blatant Kikau knock on… hard to give him a pass mark.

    3. Poppa

      the decision to take the points is always subjective, I can see both sides of the coin in this instance, later without the emotion I think with the new 2 point field goal that where once the safety was 7 points, it’s now 9. They went upstairs for the decision so i Think it is a bit hard to put it into the “dumb” section. Finally on another matter I agree with Col Hussey about the negativity of gang tackles, lifting players in the tackle and then carrying them backwards was once never part of the game in my memory i.e. you pushed them back whilst they were on their feet, as soon as their feet leave the ground they should be called held. Stops the wrestling and a lot of injuries from the resulting struggles.

      1. Zero58

        Thanks Poppa.
        Sorry, I believe it was dumb. Even more so had Cleary landed that field goal attempt.
        We are in front – add to the lead with the easy points particularly so late in the game.
        Anyway, it is all academic now but, they often do chance their hand and dismiss taking the two. Penrith’s defence was not going to give up a try on their line in such a close encounter.

        Your point about the gang tackle is a good one. The question experts should ask is at what point has forward progress been halted. Once it has been determined the man with the ball has stop going forward it should be called held.
        Wasn’t it a gang tackle that hurt McKinnon?

        1. John Eel

          Just one other thing that I have noticed creep into the game is that when the gang tackles are pushing the player back. The referees tend to let it go on even though forward progress has been halted.

          However should the team get an offload away the referees are not so lenient.

          1. !0 Year Member

            The ref also called held then our player lost the ball and we used our captain’s challenge. Also the attacking team can push the player holding the ball … However if they push them over the try line it’s s penalty. Maybe so should have malls that go on forever whilst momentum is maintained…. Who know what the refs will or will not penalise…… Take a players head off…. On report….. Hold a player whom has made a break for to long and get 10 in the bin for…. Wait for it…..a professional foul. Teams need to be coached how win is reffing. The Red head is the best ref in the game but not appear to get a start each week. He is a good touchie as well. I can breathe now

          2. BDon

            !0 Year, we also copped another repeating dud call..when the tackled player keeps walking forward after held call. The Marker is within his rights to hold the mark and because they are chest to chest his hands/arms are usually still holding the opponent. Ref penalises the marker for crowding or not releasing.

  11. Chris Stone

    Grades were spot on. Wow what a game. Ryan Matto was unreal with that try. I just wanna say about Shaun Lane and Nathan Brown too took some absolutely disgusting balls to the walls runs off our line in the second half that we’re real brave. Lane gritting his teeth after watching his mates get bashed up all around him was glorious. There were no boys out there on either side and nowhere to hide.

  12. Chris K

    You must still be in too much of a good mood for not mentioning that referee howler of letting the Kikau knock-on play on 😉 It was worse than the Solomona one from our Melbourne win, and could well have cost us the game.

    Totally agree on how pleasing it is for the team to get up with no flash attack stand-out performances from the halves.

  13. Mick

    Good analysis Gol, only grade I don’t agree with is the B+ for Simmonson, a B at worst for me. The way the Panthers belted us, most teams would have folded, we didn’t and I hope we take a lot out of this game. The only thing that has soured the win, in my eyes, is Brad Fittler. Three things he has said over the weekend have proven how biased and dumb he is. 1. He said the Reed Mahoney penalty try was not a PT, stating Samon did have hold of him but then released him. I checked it and he never released him.
    2. The Kikau “knock on”, claimed Moses knocked the ball out, I’ve watched it numerous times, no hand by a Parra player anywhere near the ball, dropped cold.
    3. And this is the classic, Fittler said he thought Penrith were FLAT. Fair dinkum, how is this gimp NSW coach.

  14. Gol's number one fan

    Gol, every week I grow a bigger and bigger fan of your grades review and wonder why you weren’t doing this when the website first started!

    Love the observations and the humour without the snark .

    Keep on being awesome

    1. sixties

      This is a huge tribute Gol. To have someone name themselves in your honour. By the way number one fan, the tribute won’t be complete without a suitable avatar.

  15. pete

    Great work Gol. Agree with the grades.
    This was probably the best Gutho has played this year. That repeat set from his kick and tackle was awesome.
    Moses not outstanding but his kicking around 800m gave is great position.
    Panthers lifting and dragging players back is a dangerous play. If someone gets a spinal cord injury from that the club should be sued. They are being coached to do it.
    Penalty try was spot on.
    Kikau knock on…how was that missed just like the semi.
    Liuau is a grub off the ball he’s constantly doing grubby things that get “missed” by the match officials.
    I’m really happy with the culture BA is building. The no complaints and no excuses just get on with it. He didn’t let last week’s conditions, short turnaround, sickness, injuries, wrong calls…He just wants everyone to get on with it and do their job. That is a long term measure that will build resilience in time. Something that has been lacking in recent years. If we show that level of patience in all games we will be there and competitive at the pointy end.
    Go Eels!!

    1. BDon

      Luíau is annoying, not a thug but what he does deserves a ref or touchie to penalise his team. He was the one who pulled Moses down off the ball in the finals last year. Penisini then got obstructed by Naden, the ball went free on their try line and Moses, trying to back up, wasn’t there to compete.( All in front of the touchie who next thing stops the game on the instruction of a trainer when we had a 2 man overlap, fined $25k). Geez, that was a load.

      1. Prometheus

        That whole scenario still makes my blood boil. The worst thing is that entire official ineptitude could happen again. And most probably against us. You’ve set me off BDon.

  16. greg okladnikov

    Great game and a great win. A real toughness about our play in attack and defence. And all the players making contributions on may of the 1%ers – diving on the loose ball, chasing the kick, doing the tough hit up – the real effort plays – it was great.

    And I liked the intent at half time – running off the park as a unit while the Panthers walked off. After such a first half, I think it just sent a message to the Panthers.

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