The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 15 vs Roosters

 

Parramatta Eels 26

Sydney Roosters 16

How about that?

What a brilliant game of footy. The first half delivered end-to-end attacking football as the Parramatta Eels channelled the energy of 2001 and offloaded at will to score some spectacular tries. It was as good a half of rugby league as you’ll ever see. The second half was a brutal battle of field position, the Eels refusing to give an inch to a Roosters pack that aimed up over and over, waiting for the men in Blue & Gold to fold. That moment never arrived. It was a stunning demonstration of toughness and resolve, one fans desperately needed to see.

Yes, the real test is playing to this level every week, but being reminded of what the best Parramatta can do was certainly a nice way to wash off most of the stink from last Monday. That it was done against an opponent near the top of their game was just as impressive as some of the tries themselves. 

Not tonight. No, it wasn’t a perfect performance, the officiating was inconsistent and it would have been nice to score a try in the second half, but there was no bad to take out of this game.

Regardless of how the season finishes, there will be some spectacular moments that make the 2022 highlight reel worth watching for years to come. Just about every Eels try tonight deserves to make the cut, but the offload-a-thon finished by Maika Sivo will be very hard to top for try of the year. 

The statistics for the match prove two points: the Roosters played pretty well, and the Eels dominated them. It feels like we say this far too often, but Parramatta would have put 50 on 8 or 9 other teams in the competition playing like this. That average set distance number is something I’ve never seen so one-sided. 

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 54%, Roosters 46%
Metres: Eels 1,916, Roosters 1,465
Average set distance: Eels 47.9 metres, Roosters 35.8
Tackles made: Eels 302, Roosters 411
Missed tackles: Eels 46, Roosters 31
Penalties conceded: Eels and Roosters 8 each

 

This feels like the kind of week to do something soppy and say “the whole team is the MVP today” and take everyone to Maccas for Happy Meals, but Junior Paulo isn’t one for saccharine gestures and demanded selection as the sole MVP with a huge performance. He will undoubtedly celebrate by eating a whole chicken in the sheds and sharing none with his teammates. 

While it was a career yardage night for Junior, what impressed me is the opposition he did it against and the method of his dominance. He wasn’t throwing a lot of offloads and was relatively quiet as a distributor, he just put the head down and barrelled through the opposing pack relentlessly and remorselessly. It was a true captain’s knock. You da MVP, Mr. Bow-low.



 

 

 

 

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Long live the King! After a tough few rounds of winter Clint Gutherson delivered prosperity to his kingdom once more, ever-dangerous in attack and a dependable last line of defence. That tackle on Angus Crichton was a ripper, and it took a stellar defensive effort to deny Bailey Simonsson after Gutherson pulled off a beautiful dummy. Tonight was vintage King.


 

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Welcome back Bula. While the steamroller ran out of gas in the second half and was chopped down close to the line a few times, he delivered some brutal charges on kick returns when given a touch of room and most importantly, he has his confidence back. I don’t remember a time when fans chanted a player’s name without them scoring a try, but that was the kind of night Maika Sivo had running the ball.


 

Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

It was either a Roosters strategy or his mate Joseph Suaalii having a giggle and telling Trent Robinson “run at my boy all night, he can’t take it”, but Will Penisini made double the number of tackles as the rest of the three-quarter line combined tonight. That didn’t blunt his attacking output, he was second to Ryan Matterson in total offloads, but for a young player his work without the ball is simply phenomenal.


 

Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

Where Penisini is the defensive machine, Waqa Blake is the metre eater, making good yardage out of our end on tough carries. The modern “Penrith” style requires outside backs that can take the load off on early tackles, and Waqa has taken to that role like Brad Arthur to Mount Franklin. It’d be nice if he didn’t miss so many tackles, but I’m not going to be picky this week.


 

Bailey Simonsson

5 – Right Wing

There was nothing really wrong with Bailey Simonsson’s effort tonight, he just didn’t shine as brightly as his backline partners. His ruck work was a step below Sivo and Blake and he didn’t manage to ice what was admittedly a difficult chance, but he didn’t do much wrong either. Maybe we should loan him to every club in the NRL next year, so every week becomes a revenge game.


 

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Dylan Brown was the dominant playmaker tonight, as the second half turned into that kind of game where hard running and gaps around the edge of the ruck were favoured over spreads and structure. His pass on “that try” was a ripper and his support play was, as usual, excellent. Special highlight to some of his second half tackles on big men, where the Roosters asked a lot of questions and Dylbags had all the answers.


 

Mitch Moses

7 – Halfback

Mitchell Moses had his running shoes on tonight, including a beautiful last tackle short-side dart that showcased everything good about his game: vision, speed and footwork. On a night where the Eels won the game through second half field position, his kicking was a notch above his opposites, and his defensive efforts were outstanding. A complete performance from the Prince of Egypt.


 

RCG

8 – Front Row

I love it when a player “takes it personal” and all the talk about Reagan Campbell-Gillard being dropped from Origin 2 was indeed taken very personal by the Moustachioed Monolith. He cracked 200 metres, was busy over big minutes and I’d say any other week this was an A+ performance, but his captain and partner in crime went absolutely HAM and I need a distinction between the two.


 

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

It was a busy night for Reed Mahoney, when offloads were flowing like wine he was usually the beneficiary and, except for one ugly miss, he was on the spot and distributed off the second phase play quickly and cleanly. He still threw a few too many crash plays for my liking and missed a couple of open side opportunities, but his kicking, support play and defence was outstanding.


 

Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

I could just give a collective A+ grade to the whole forward pack, but that would mean needing to create another grade above that to properly credit the game Junior Paulo played against the Roosters. He played big minutes and was busy for every one of them, running for a career best (according to the commentary team) 229 metres, breaking 4 tackles and making 27 of his own. Junior was relentless, a man on a mission, I hope he can bottle this and unleash it every week for the rest of the year.


 

Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Tonight the Tall Glass of Water was a $12 carafe of sparkling at a restaurant that makes you wear a tie, delivering perhaps his best performance in the Blue & Gold jersey. The offloads were unstoppable, the line running impeccable and the workrate beyond what I thought he was capable of. Shaun Lane was the focal point of that left edge attacking tonight and it proved to be a coaching masterstroke. Long live Good Shaun Lane.


 

Isaiah Papali’i

13 – Second Row

Ice looked like an NFL running back when he got low and threw the shoulder into James Tedesco on his way to a barnstorming try. He was at his tackle breaking best here, but on the edge he wasn’t as busy in attack as we’ve come to expect and he fell off a few too many tackles. I like this build of the Parramatta forward pack a lot, so if we can find a way to keep Papa involved and he can remain this devastating with the ball, it will be a long night for any opposition.


 

Ryan Matterson

15 – Lock

Ryan Matterson was a cheat code tonight, able to break the laws of physics to offload out of any tackle and possessing the psychic vision to know exactly where his support players stood. Flick offloads, standing offloads, falling offloads, offloads that seemed to phase through the tackler’s bodies, it was all on display from the Adonis of O’Connell Street who capped it all off by signing a new four-year deal. If we get this most weeks, Matterson’s new contract will be a steal.


 

Maka Makatoa

14 – Interchange

It was a night for the big names to shine, which meant Big Mak got a measly seven minutes as the Eels Origin reps went on a stampede. It wasn’t a brilliant seven minutes, but with a rest week next week I think I’d prefer the 55th minutes of Junior and Reg over the 10th minute of Maka. No offence to the Mak, he’s just not on the level of those big guns.


 

Marata Niukore

12 – Interchange

Simba’s involvement tonight was much more during the “brutal slog” part of the game than the free-flowing, 2001-Eels attacking part, but he was strong in yardage and defence, and unlike last week he wasn’t overused on crash plays off the half that stifle backline movements. In this team, the bench is his best spot.


 

Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Big Country has firmly established his position above Makatoa in the forward pecking order, getting a solid 32 minutes where he was busy and strong in attack but managed to miss 3 of his 14 tackle attempts. In a game where his fellow props were a tough act to follow, Oregon Kaufusi held the line. Good job.


 

Ky Rodwell

17 – Interchange

I should go easy on Hot Rod given he only played three minutes, but when you get belted so hard you lose the ball in the 79th minute, as the fresh man on the field, well let’s put it down to over-exuberance. We’ll see better from him in the future.


Let’s check in with how former grades-master Mitch is doing:

Yeah, that’s about right. While this win doesn’t prove the Eels are over the weakness that saw “last week” happen, that shouldn’t stop you enjoying what was a cracking performance against top-line opposition. You have our permission to have complicated feelings about the Parramatta Eels, the only thing black and white in the NRL is a Magpies jersey and you can feel like you support both a premiership contender that can beat anybody on their day and a team that could lose to anybody at any time.

My favourite part of the win was how it was done in a completely different way to other big wins this year. Sure it came off the back of excellence in the middle, but the free offloading, the halves targeting slow cover defence with inside balls and sharp line running, it was a very different win to the one over Penrith or Melbourne. Remember this one when you want to call for Brad Arthur to be sacked after the next loss, this was a masterstroke of coaching as well as excellence in performance.

Enjoy another week off for representative football, as we return fresh for an intense run to the finals and the first Eels premiership in far too long.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.

Gol

Stats and images provided by NRL

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Flannery McKenna

Brilliant game. Appreciate the TCT coverage as always. The one ‘bad’ item that I took away wasn’t on the field, but rather in the post game assessments of what had gone wrong the previous week with the Dogs and what Parra need to do differently going forward. I don’t think the problem last week was ‘complacency’, as Reed said. And I’m not convinced that simply deciding to ‘show up’ every week means very much. Earlier in the season, Cooper Cronk made the observation (a good one I think) that in the past few years, Parra could only win one way:… Read more »

John Eel

Gol your points are well made here. The biggest concern for me this season has been our ordinary defence. Our missed tackles haven’t been this high for a long time.

The take out for 2022 has been the ability to come from behind and carve out a win. This demonstrates a level of resilience that hasn’t always been there in this team. We came from behind to beat both the Panthers and the Storm.

Colin Hussey

A much better performance over last week – thankfully. For mine the game was tough but also spoilt by some terrible refereeing, missed forward passes, dropped ball and the ref lets the opposition to keep the ball. Anyway it was a top of line game and one that was intense and hard. It was also good to see the old Sivo chant a couple of times following his return and very close to the original performances. I have a concern for the crusher tackle that RCG put on an opponent, and was called out as on report, not the first… Read more »

David

Gol says the refereeing was inconsistent. You say it was terrible. You are both right. From what I saw last night, the ref’ing was simply incompetent. (Not a matter of anti-Eels bias, btw, for the errors flowed both ways).

Parra Pete

I also posted this comment on THE TIP SHEET comments…, I thought people over-read the loss to Canterbury last week. The ‘fans’ looked at the position of the Dogs on the ladder – the possible loss of picking the ‘lot’ in tipping comps – but overlooked at the actual way the game played out. Sure, the Eels were thrashed on the scoreboard by the team coming last, but as I commented last week, the Eels left at least five tries out on the paddock, and conceded AT LEAST two to arse incidents…two intercepts. It was a wake-up call FOR SURE,… Read more »

MickB

I thought Lane was the MVP, outstanding game, but agree, all the forwards that played decent minutes had excellent games. There’s a real theme of Parra being involved in the most exciting games this year, even for neutrals to watch. It was just a great game of footy – I thought Lindsay Collins was excellent for the Chooks, and really mixed it with Paulo and RCG, plus seemed to be everywhere in defence. The two ‘issues’ I’d point out were; (a) still need better bench rotation. We can’t have 2 players in the bench playing 10 combined minutes, it’s just… Read more »

Zero58

That first was hard to stop however the back line defence spread was too narrow. They have been caught like that too many times. RCG crusher was an accident that was difficult to avoid. If Kafusi the thug gets off then RCG’s accident is of no account. But, because there was such an outcry over this RCG might pay for his indiscretion. The first half showed us that Parra can really play attacking football. It reminded me of that first half against the Broncos when they won 58 zero. The second half was a real grind like the last Penrith… Read more »

sixties

Glad to see there’s no charge for RCG to answer.

Anonymous

It seemed like Maika was sometimes in Waqa pocket when defending.

Chris K

To let the Roosters 2nd try through with that forward pass, one minute after calling us up on a carbon copy pass ….🤬. Could have been very costly, and frankly just not good enough. Roosters were also given plenty of latitude in the ruck during the last 5 minutes of the first half when we were in high pressure mode on their line. Bright side = a win so, so much sweeter against the team with the magic salary cap, and recipient of mysterious on-field favours (I’ll never forget their GF against the Raiders) I can’t recall a better 30… Read more »

sixties

I’m struggling to think of too many better Eels tries than that.

BDon

’A halfback in a props body’..maybe Junior heard that one too much.So much better when he’s a prop. Reed’s varied passing from DH helped the cause.Sivo’s carries last and this week were chalk and cheese.Moses’ defence has improved out of sight. Matto was great but dead set left a 2 man overlap stranded when a 2nd half try would have eased the blood pressure. BA’s opinion of Shaun Lane all wrapped up in one game.

Shaun

So many good performances. But if the crowd chanting Sivo after that run where he palmed off Manu didn’t warm your heart you don’t like rugba leeg (or a Rooster’s supported).

Anonymous

Good but should have tried same on collins , had close to 5 metres to work with aiming in low , scores !!!!!!

Steele

Great Win by the Eels, and about as good a ‘bounceback’ as could be asked for. Let’s hope they keep at it.

Could we all agree that Freddy has lost the plot?

Jordan McLean over RCG – this makes no sense statistically, form wise, eye test, experience wise or morally. A putrid decision.

Radley/Jake T over Matto – Jurbo offers next to nothing. Radley hasn’t played a game in a month.

Matterson could not have done more and is unlucky to be dropped. But not as unlucky as RCG. I don’t think the Penrith contingent like Him.

sixties

It is absurdity of the highest order. Game 1 was a tight affair and I thought that the Maroons 6, 7 and 9 outplayed their Blues counterparts. But Fittler swings the axe in the forwards. Anyone ever suggesting that he’d be a good club coach should keep such calls in mind.

Anonymous

I could honestly agree if Junior was omitted as Fitler dosent play him to utilise his talents and as such hes been disappointing in each of his opportunities. Reg on the other hand was fantastic in game 1. His exclusion defys belief. Then there is Radley for Matto? Does he need another “Yeo Style” 13? How many Panthers, ex Panthers and Chooks do Fittler and Alexander need? As much as Ill be cheering for Junior, even though I know he wont be used correctly, its Qld all the way for me. Hopefully Fittler gets The Bulldogs job so we are… Read more »

Anonymous

Fittler has no idea , god help the club that gives him an nrl gig , failed before at chooks , uncle nicks no fool , couldnt punt him quick enough , he now has the entire nrl comp to pick from and its chaos , i wouldnt let him pick an apple ,

pete

Great work Gol.
Nothing more to add.
Cheers

Jason

One of the key takeaways I am taking from this game which can take us to a new level as we move into the second half of the season…

Matto changing the way he is playing slightly in a similar role to Yeo at panthers. Played first receiver a lot of times..took the right option in ball playing and taking the line on….this could be a massive game changer for us and see his role evolving as the season goes on.

Lets back this up against the weaker team.

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