The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 11 vs Sea Eagles


Parramatta Eels 22

Manly Sea Eagles 20

That was a game against type for the Parramatta Eels, who overcame some defensive deficiencies, stuck in the contest and took the lead for the first time in the 78th minute. Had the edge defenders played like they’d met each other before the game this could have been anything, but considering the conditions the ball handling, offloading and adventurous play were very encouraging.

Any win against Manly is a good one, and while watching this game I felt much more relief than joy, I’m a lot happier with the performance in the cold light of day having watched the replay.

 Manly has made the Parramatta edge defence look ordinary in recent years, and there were some pretty amateur reads on both sides of the field in this one. The Penisini/Simonsson combination has played together for most of the season and regressed badly tonight, and it isn’t a sustainable strategy to rely on being perfect in handling and discipline every week, knowing the defence will fold under any sort of good ball for the opposition.

Also in the not so great, if the NRL ever makes the mistake of moving Magic Round to Sydney, CommBank Stadium removed itself from hosting contention with the pitch it served up tonight. It was soggy, choppy and looked worse after one game of NSW Cup than Suncorp Stadium did after a week of rain and six games of footy last weekend.

 On a wet night the Eels completed at 88% while throwing 22 offloads and unleashing some expansive, early spreads. Discipline and good ball handling kept Parramatta in the game tonight, and while Des Hasler and Manly fans can gripe about a 9-2 penalty count, most of those penalties were for foul play that doesn’t come down to referee discretion. Maybe if they didn’t lay in the ruck like they’ve slept through an alarm they wouldn’t get dinged so much.

It is definitely a Parramatta tactic to err on the side of caution in the ruck. It is resulting in some fast play-the-balls for our opponents, but it also stops backbreaking penalties and six-agains. The Eels lead the NRL in fewest penalties conceded and are usually on the right side of the ruck infringement count each week. There is nothing in the rule book that says penalty counts should be even at the end of a game, and Manly fans and their notorious whinger of a coach should look inward at why their right edge can’t defend basic shapes and their reckless forwards keep making illegal tackles instead of crying about a tackle that has been a penalty all season long.

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 53%, Sea Eagles 47%
Completions: Eels 38/43 (88%), Sea Eagles 26/32 (81%)
Run metres: Eels 1,688, Sea Eagles 1,638
Average set distance: Eels 39 metres, Sea Eagles 51 metres
Offloads: Eels 22, Sea Eagles 7
Ineffective tackles: Eels 12, Sea Eagles 37
Penalties conceded: Eels 2, Sea Eagles 9
Coach whinges to deflect from his team’s bad defence: Sea Eagles 1, Eels 0


It was a hard call tonight, with a lot of strong but not incredible performances across the board, including Isaiah Papali’i, Ryan Matterson and Shaun Lane. In the end I’m going to celebrate the milestone, and the fact we won a milestone game, and give it to the King, Clint Gutherson. Congratulations on 150 first grade games Gutho, and sorry about all those things I said about you after you’d played a half dozen on the wing in Blue and Gold. You da MVP tonight Clint, and you’re always the MVP of our hearts, cap.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

The King’s sesquicentennial anniversary was a magical occasion, highlighted by a peach of a pass for Hayze Perham’s second try. In tricky conditions he was safe at the back, strong in returns and yardage and was one touch away from leading the side’s playmakers. This was the revenge game that Haumole Olakau’atu wishes he had.


Hayze Perham

2 – Left Wing

Hayze Perham continues to be an excellent finisher when fed a saloon passage to the tryline, but his time as a first grade winger must come to an end soon. He was lucky not to concede yet another try on a high kick as Tolutau Koula outjumped him with ease but spilled the catch, and he’s not going to get the size to be an effective early tackle ball carrier overnight. It’s harsh on a guy who scored two tries for us, but his presence on the wing is a win-button for any opposition halfback that can kick a good high ball.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

His defensive combination with Bailey Simonsson may have taken a step backwards, but with the ball Will Penisini had a huge game against Manly. He was on the spot to finish the matchwinner, found himself in space several times and got the chance to use his fend and offload on the way to breaking five tackles. It is a shame that, after finally earning his kicking license back by logging 50 hours of supervised grubbers, he wiped his points in one ill-advised mid-field kick that was lucky to earn a penalty.


Tom Opacic

4 – Left Centre

Tom Opacic doesn’t get through the yardage work of his centre partner, but he was crucial in the shapes that carved the Sea Eagles to pieces on the left edge and was on the spot for an opportunistic offload from Shaun Lane to score a critical try. Yet his highlight was channelling Anderson Silva with a piercing elbow that sliced open Tolutau Koula’s nose, assuring him of a lucrative post-football career as a cage fighter.


Bailey Simonsson

5 – Right Wing

If you are going to rush up on Tom Trbojevic, the bare minimum is to at least get within an arms distance of touching him. Bailey Simonsson didn’t even get that close when Trbojevic put on his only decent attacking involvement of the match, and it highlighted some poor decision making overall from the former Raider. He rushed on a man Penisini had already covered for the first try, missed a chance to put Reuben Garrick into touch on the next try, and the only nice thing I can say about his defensive game is he defused kicks well. It’s a shame for a player that had been getting better to this point, and a double change of Sivo and Russell coming in may soon be on the cards


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Dylan Brown was made to work in defence, and while it didn’t blunt his attacking workrate (19 runs, 139 metres) he didn’t create much off that running this week. His best moments were in combination with Moses, and I think that is where we need to see Dylan more often, getting chances to beat a man one-on-one rather than taking an option run one-wide.


Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Back when I was young and reckless, we had season tickets at Parramatta Stadium right on the sideline. So close that the touch judge could hear you abusing him. One mate would regularly demand the touchy “pull his socks up” even though they were so stretched as to be a hair away from touching his shorts. It wasn’t all that funny, but one day the worst thing possible happened: the touchy leaned down and checked his very upright left sock. It consigned us to four years of touch judge catcalls, trying to recreate that magic moment until we eventually moved our seats so far from the sideline that he’d need binoculars to check a touchies socks.

Last week when Mitchell Moses pulled off that chip and chase try, the touchy checked his socks. This week the old bloke who has put up with those catcalls for three years finally snapped and told him where he can stick it, in the form of Josh Schuster taking a slips catch and setting up a try down field when Mitch tried to recreate that magic. There’s a time and a place Mitch, don’t make us move you to row 19 of the Thornett Stand to stop those high risk plays.

Enough of that, how good was that conversion? That it was done in the rain, on the bad side for a right footer, right on the touchline, that made it a moment we’ll be seeing for years to come. His goal kicking hasn’t always been clutch, so it was nice to see Mitch nail it here.




8 – Front Row

It was hard running tonight for Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who worked harder than usual in defence but set a season low in metres per run, taking 127 metres from 18 attempts. He sets a high standard and tonight wasn’t quite up to it, but a lot of front rowers in the NRL would do a lap of Richie Benaud Oval starkers on a frosty July morning to post these kind of numbers in a bad game.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

Reed Mahoney distributing with those accurate, long passes to Mitchell Moses in good ball, that is when the Eels look dangerous. Reed throwing crash balls with minimal deception, again and again? That’s crap, and we see it far too often this year. His defence was superb tonight, his workrate excellent, but his decision making in good ball needs to be better.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

It wasn’t the dominant performance we wanted from Junior, but there were a few good offloads and passes in his game and it is encouraging that the Eels hang tough in a tight game despite Junior looking human.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Shaun Lane took all the shots at his fitness personal this week, playing a full 80 minutes and sitting second in the pack behind Ryan Matterson in runs and behind Reed Mahoney in tackles. He got his hands where they didn’t belong on one backline play for a knock-on, but his run and offload for Opacic’s try is exactly why Lane is in the side. He’s played at enough clubs that he’d earn a Dally M medal if he played this level of “revenge game” against his former sides each time, but tonight was a nice reminder of Good Shaun Lane.


Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Ice got through his usual workload tonight, but he gets his grade for those soft hands and drawing two defenders on the match winning try, a clutch play in a situation where some of the other big Eels names hadn’t exactly played clutch football. He got a ten-minute rest this week, a rare release of the gas pedal by Brad Arthur, but he was on the field when it counted.


Marata Niukore

15 – Lock

Marata Niukore looked a touch short of a run, and only got 29 minutes out there despite his late shift to the starting side. Brad Arthur mentioned his use of Ryan Matterson was designed to save an interchange, so it could just be strategy for Simba, or maybe he got knocked around again. Regardless it wasn’t a high impact game from the Little Lion Man.


Maka Makatoa

14 – Interchange

Makahesi Makatoa was the man to miss out on minutes this weekend, playing only 13 in an unremarkable stint. Not much else to say here, so here’s a tweet I liked:


Ryan Matterson

13 – Interchange

Ryan Matterson continues to chew through work and offload at will, though his timing and choice when unloading the ball could have been better on Friday night. Daly Cherry-Evans saw one offload coming the whole way, and the Sea Eagles scored off that turnover. His use as a distributor in the first try was a nice example of what a half-turned-forward can offer in the modern game, and if that is how we’re using Matto for the remainder of this season, I’m excited about what he brings to the good ball attack.


Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Another decent performance from Oregon Kaufusi, who was solid but unspectacular in 23 minutes that the Eels spent on the back foot. Not much else to say here, so have another tweet:


Nathan Brown

17 – Interchange

Nathan Brown is really struggling to make yardage this season, worrying for a guy who has made a living angling back behind the ruck and finding extra metres on hard carries. Even here off the bench, where he wasn’t asked to distribute at all (one pass), Brown wasn’t very effective as a runner. He needs to come good soon.

I’m a touch worried that Parramatta needs to complete at 90%, have near perfect handling in dire conditions and win a penalty count, just to stay close to a team like Manly. The encouraging aspect of this performance is that once the defence is right, the Eels have a great platform for success, but getting that defence right needs to happen soon. The stats are clear on defence: almost every premier in the last two decades has been a top three defensive side. Things need to improve, and in a hurry.

For now, I’m going to enjoy beating a bitter rival, watching Des Hasler and Manly fans whinge about referees while they sit with only one more win than teams like the Raiders, Warriors and Dragons in season 2022. Next week is another tough road trip, but the Eels broke the Canberra hoodoo last year and I’m feeling good about their chances to put on back-to-back wins heading into the bye.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL


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Good grades. One thing I like about BA is that win or loss, it’s about accountability and what the team can control. Never any complaining about decisions, etc like Des and some others.


You are so right about Reeds crash balls. Time and again it was tried and failed, often on the 4th or 5th tackles.
i totally agree about our wingers. Russell and Sivo to start next week, or at least one of them. Getting over the advantage line from our red zone has been a problem for weeks, especially Perham who gets rag dolled.
Heres hoping for an improved performance against the Raiders.
Thanks for the Grades Gol. Always look forward to reading them even after a loss.


We have a bye the week after I’d say sivo plays cup the next 2 weeks and returns when we are back.
Russell is maybe more likely
I’d like to see Hayze go to the bench I like his utility value


I really find the utility value difficult to accept for Hayze, he may play in a lot of positions and he may try very hard……but he is not up to first grade standard in any respect…..well our first grade standard if we want to be a top 4 side.


I know you have covered it but why can’t we get the defence on the flanks sorted out ??? I understand that we play compressed and rely on a sweeping cover whilst midfield but why are we doing it on the try line ???? All the opposition has to do is a deft kick or a long pass and we are toast. We are now giving up about 3 tries a game to this problem area. Sometimes we can run teams down, others we can’t. It’s not about injuries, it’s about coaching. We are the only team in the competition… Read more »


If you watch all games you’ll note that the compressed defence is employed by basically every team. The tries on the overlap or the edges are incredibly common. Where some teams are better than us is in sliding and adjusting our line when the shift happens. By the way, our issue this year has been simple misses and ineffectives. We haven’t been hitting and sticking.


Sorry mate but I’ll have to disagree with you. Yes , teams do use a compressed defence but most then revert to a sliding configuration when defending their line due to the obvious fact that a cover is basically useless. There is always massive holes on our flanks when in our red zone, much more than any other team.


I think this is an attitude thing and a thinking process. If we were Storm or Penrith we would be sliding and smothering, its almost a lack of urgency when we expect to win… this maybe a coaching problem, but it is also a selection problem i.e. lack of alternatives and everyone knowing they can be dropped if the attitude doesn’t change. Thats difficult with our injuries on the flanks but that will be the test when we have bums on seats…..that said I am not convinced that Sivo will make much difference and really Russell is yet to be… Read more »


Tks Gol. I’ve tried putting my finger on what goes wrong with many of our raids inside opponents 20. Your thoughts on Mahoney I’ll add to the list. Cherry-Evans is also a master spoiler. Our play the ball speed was 20% slower than Manly, Cummins allowed them leniency, Olakau’atu was a serial offender until he got whistled, pushing the player back down his specialty. Not a thing said about Tapau belting RCG right across the snoz, Ray Stone remembers the same bloke.Gutho was busy and competent, but there was that short dropout again, with 30 minutes to play and 6… Read more »


Matto was then inspired by this creative catch up stuff and threw an offload that on TV looked like the Manly player had already invaded the space.Mistakes happen but I did think ‘this is not composure’.


Is it just me or does every team seem to have their best game against the Eels? It’s not as if the Riff or Storm gifted us wins either. Good for neutrals because watching Parra games is generally a well fought contest, but challenging for the Eels fan base. Gol I think the analysis is spot on today on all fronts – penalties around the ruck, edge defence etc. Good stuff. I think we got lucky today, calls that were 50/50 probably went our way more often than not. But with some of the things that have happened this far… Read more »

Chris K

I agree that Perham only had eyes for the ball, but the Bunker did mention him ‘jumping too early’ being the reason for the penalty.

I was okay with this call, as the difference was Suali timed his to perfection.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris K

Was an interesting one. The ball trajectory became confusing when Turbo stopped and left space for his winger to contest. The winger firstly hesitated for a blocking play, saw Turbo non-contesting then moved towards the ball to at least put a Manly body there. I first thought the downward trajectory was at Turbo, so Hayze goes early and impedes. When you sort out the trajectory, Hayze was within his rights to leap, eyes always on the ball,, the Manly winger just acted late and got left with feet planted. Manly bungled the decisions but got rewarded.

Brett Allen

We’re the hunted now


The opposition only plays as well as they are allowed to. I’m sick of hearing this excuse that teams are coming for us. It’s just an excuse and they should stop repeating it. Teams are also coming for the Panthers and the Storm but their defences don’t fold like a pack of cards. Every excuse we make becomes a crutch that we can lean on to shift the blame away from our own failures.


Great read Gol. 100% on your analysis of the game. Glad we didn’t go away in that game and fought back for a gritty win. Lane best game for a long time, he should produce that consistently. Matto was great except that obvious offload. Teams are looking to intercept those now. Moses kick to win awesome. Moses kick to Shuster Not so good, teams aware to look for the kick. ICE we cannot afford to lose him next year. He’s been consistently one of our best forwards in every game. We need to do something about it. Our outside backs… Read more »


I couldn’t get to the game but I watched at a family function with a Family friend who is a former NRL player who has a coaching role at a club. He had some good insights into the eels it was cool to get that insight. 1 thing he said is something we all ready know is the Eels are the team in the top 8 that you never really fear because they are beatable and have obvious weaknesses that can be exploited eg. Defensive structure edge defence. Something that I found interesting is he said one way to beat… Read more »


Mate it’s never going to happen, we are just too schizophrenic to ever put it together for a sustained period . I’m not bashing BA because coaching is a team effort but we can’t even have a solid defensive structure at the moment! Either the coaching is inept or they just arnt listening to the message. Hands up who thought that with 90 seconds on the clock they would go for a short kickoff and be pressing our line at full time ? It’s bloody heart attack material! Please please – find a defensive coach that knows what they are… Read more »


Why do not people understand that the defensive coach doesn’t get involved with decisions with 90 seconds to go. No doubt they have rehearsed a defensive move to counteract such situations, the way its played for is the coach himself and the on field leadership at the time. Watching the body language Moses is the only one that thinks ahead of the play….Guth is inspirational but not a thinker and neither is Junior. In terms of being prepared for the short kick off it was an oxymoron, but defending it showed no idea……not good enough BA and on field leadership.… Read more »


Poppa…here’s a worse dilemma. I had to leave the TV for a minute after Moses’ conversion. I sang out to the boss’watch for short kick off and tell me what happens’. I get back and Manly have the ball… ‘What happened?’.. ‘ I don’t know, I was knitting…’ So thanks for the insight. I often wonder why re-starts aren’t more varied. When you watch EPL, those blokes hit a ball from 25/30 mtrs and it is still gaining velocity. It would be interesting to know at what distance velocity can peak( different for different players). The Rugby ball has all… Read more »


My Mother was a great knitter at the football. We were at Henson Park playing Newtown in the old days in the sixties, I was there with mum and dad and often wondered if mum ever watched the game as she always had her head in the knitting. Then some wag in the stand at Hensen Park (it would have only fitted a couple of hundred at the most) yelled out, “why don’t you people go back to the bush” my mother hardly blinked into the knitting, lifted her head and said “rather live in the bush than the slums”… Read more »

Brett Allen

That assessment is 3 years out of date. That was true of us in 2017-2020, but not anymore. We aren’t flat pitch bullies anymore, we can play from behind now. In fact, aside from the Dragons & Knights games we’ve been behind or in a tough tight contest pretty much every week.
As Gregg Popovich once noted, “Public perception is usually two years behind reality”.


Well he’s currently working in the NRL so don’t know how out of date.
Can you honestly say before Kick off of any game you don’t think ‘shit wr could loose this’

Brett Allen

Of course we could’ve, what I’m saying is that the perception that we are flat track bullies is out of date. That is no longer who we are.


He wasn’t saying flat track bullies but that of the top teams we are more likely to have a bad day out and are beatable.
If we ever click in to gear constantly then watch out but that’s the big if

John Eel

We came from behind in the Panthers game and I think that we came from behind in the Storm game.

In the past they have lacked the resilience to do that


I don’t see the gutho hype. Maybe I’m jaded who knows, but watching hom last night and most weeks constituting grab the ball rather than make the tackle is frustrating. That line drop out at a crucial time was not a smart play. Clearly we have an issue on the sides and he is never there to cover. Not expecting this to gain popularity but I really don’t rate him and didn’t see the A performance last night. Reed not listening to the play is frustrating us all, least of all MM, he looks like he is going to pop… Read more »


Gutho is a very good player.
Not nearly as good as he thinks he is but a very good playet


Agree on Hasler being a ‘class A’ whinger: Roosters kicked a conversion clear and put us out of a chance of the game last week, when Dylan Brown also hit Tuipinuou high last week with his head at shoulder height. Live by, Die by etc … RCG got squarely hit in the face straight after this, the bunker had time to see it and nothing. I thought Manly got away with a bunch of laying down in the ruck incidents when we were in our forty early in the game, which any other week would have been penalised. Thought the… Read more »


Anonymous, these observations are so good and so articulate that they deserve a name! Everything you noted is spot on.
Just on the grubber kick off, it should be deployed more often. When you tilt the ball backwards on the tee, and kick the top half of the ball, you can achieve wicked bounces that can be impossible for receivers to control. That high bounce that goes over the head is not unusual.


I remember in the smitty days Ben Kusto broke out that kick a couple of times and we all just couldn’t believe what we had seen lol


Luke Burt did some decent drop outs for a regain; the most memorbale drop out for me was a Brad Drew one i recall. Not good


Extremely kind grades for a match in which we were 2nd best for most of the match. Simmonson is a good athlete but he is costing us too much out there. I’m prepared to blame the coaching for the structures on the edges, but Simmonson is jamming in and not even getting a hand on the player he is supposedly targeting.

I hope a change in personnel helps with the edge defence but I also think its a system fault that BA is for some reason too stubborn to address

Brett Allen

We are desperately missing Fergo’s metres out of the backfield. The difference between tackle two on the 20 as opposed to the 30 is huge for our power game. I thought your grading of Junior was harsh. In torrential conditions that don’t suit him he was outstanding i thought.


Yeah on a kick off Fergo would stand at fullback and be ready for hit up 2.
Then his start to sets haven’t been replaced

Brett Allen

The flip side is that Simonsen is much safer under the high ball, and until last night a much better defender


Imo there is no evidence that Bailey is a better defender than Fergo was. Our right side is just as diabolical as it was in previous years (top 4 worst in the league) and that’s with a better defensive centre inside him in Penisini (previously Waqa was there). I’m happy to put this down to coaching structure and not the individual but Bailey is not an upgrade on Fergo in defense as yet


I’d say it’s even money in defence but Baily is safer under the high ball.
I felt fergo had another year in him obviously no club agreed with that lol


The wingers need to trust the inside man instead of always rushing in. Teams just know that if they go to our edges enough they will eventually find points. Apart from that I thought we did well as Manly played good field position until they gave away a couple of stupid penalties and let us back into the match.

John Eel

That was the result of scoreboard pressure. Eels hit the front for the first time in about the 79th minute of the match, Manly were down to 12 and panicked. Good play from the Eels


Rather then c +, A- B’s

Why not just a score out of 10? You could even use half points. 8.5 for example.


Watching Hasler and Cherry-Evans at their press conference, all I could think, was how pathetic is this. No accountability from him or with his players. There have been times when I have wanted Brad to have something to say, after some dodgy decisions against us, but after watching Hasler last night, makes me proud he never layers the blame with anyone other than himself or our players.


Lynbeth I agree completely. It was nothing but complaints, no acknowledgement for the opposition. We thought that the decisions could have been harsher as Manly pushed boundaries in tackles. Hasler’s presser was a disgrace and if as a club they want to adopt that approach then they were destined to fail this year, even if Turbo didn’t get injured.

John Eel

Cowboys 36, Storm 6. Now that is an upset


When I heard Hughes was out I did think that would make the game closer. But did not expect such a thumping.


Nathan Brown seems to get a rough call always in this grades article.
I thought he changed the momentum of the game when he came on.
His leg speed was good and he had manly looking out the corner of their eyes for him in defence.
He added aggression when we needed it.


Tony, I thought he was more effective off the bench than he had been in recent weeks. It allowed him to play an impact role.


I agree sixties, off the bench looks like it could be his role now.
I’m happy if that’s the case I think he can bring good impact in that role.


I’m not seeing him getting across the advantage line much, which is what I think the grades are reflecting. As he catches the pass he’s running a million miles an hour and then he starts to slow down through to the point of impact and defenders wrap him up pretty easily. I also always get nervous when he looks like he’s about to throw a pass. They seem like Hail Marys to the receiver who is about to get walloped by a defender. He was excellent the first couple of weeks back, but since then he seems to have been… Read more »


Yep, 3 years back Brown had a kamikaze approach to his carries but gradually moved to a step or hit and spin, either his body started to get smashed or coaching staff wanted to extend his playing life. He’s also added the angle back behind the ruck. If he hits the line harder, off loads become more practical.


During Friday I wasted 20 minutes of my life listening to a podcast that claimed Mitch was the most overrated player in the game and could not do clutch plays. That goal was good for some many reasons.

Last edited 1 month ago by Shaun
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