The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 21 vs Sea Eagles


Parramatta Eels 36

Manly Sea Eagles 20

Any win against Manly is a good one, but this was a particularly impressive display from the Parramatta Eels. The Sea Eagles came to play and the Eels deflated them immediately, taking the sting out of the early exchanges with two quick tries. Even more impressive was the comeback, wrestling the momentum away, fixing their right edge defence and coming home with a wet sail against a team with everything to play for in a hostile environment.

It was a high quality contest against a determined opponent, and Parramatta overcame adversity to run away with the contest in the big moments. We’ve ended Manly’s season, kept our top four hopes alive and put together back-to-back efforts. It’s a good time to be an Eels fan.

Catch a bloody ball would you? Too many kicks found ground tonight, either from miscommunication at the back, nobody jumping for the ball or because somebody dropped it. For a team that needs to control field position and possession to win, a sure way to break that is letting an oval ball bounce randomly around the field near our goal line.

The right edge defence was again a concern, but luckily halftime adjustments and denying Manly any decent ball from about the 50th minute fixed the issue in the second half. Let’s run with those adjustments from kickoff next week, hey?

We collected a short dropout! It was a risky play but a crucial one for the momentum of the match and a nice trick to have in the back pocket.

The bunker was again a talking point post game, with the discourse an example of everything wrong with rugby league talking heads. Michael Ennis can, without irony, praise the spectacular work of Waqa Blake being awarded a try because of frame-matching dual feeds, then criticise that same technology for detecting microscopic knock-ons from Ryan Matterson. Maybe we need a “it’s just a good rugby league play” button he can push that overrides technically correct decisions when something “looks” like a try.

I have no issue with Will Penisini and Morgan Harper’s contest for the ball, I thought Will did extremely well to avoid grabbing at Harper’s jersey and earning an obvious sin binning, instead wrapping his arm and generally tangling with him. Like Des Hasler said after the game, decisions didn’t cost Manly, missed tackles did.

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 53%, Sea Eagles 47%
Run metres: Eels 2,121, Sea Eagles 1,807
Completions: Eels 38/44 (86%, Sea Eagles 28/36 (77%)
Tackle breaks: Eels 36, Sea Eagles 18
Offloads: Eels 11, Sea Eagles 7
Tackles made: Eels 290, Sea Eagles 327
Errors: Eels 6, Sea Eagles 12

It’s a tight call, but because I liked his individual try just a little bit more I’m going with Dylan Brown over Clint Gutherson. Both members of the spine stood up without Mitchell Moses, but only one ended the game being compared to Brad Fittler. You da MVP, Dyl.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

What a performance by the King, who started with a beautiful face ball to put Sivo in early and only got better from there. The solo try was a special, with Reuben Garrick stuck in concrete boots as the last thing he expected was Clint Gutherson to run it himself. He was on hand for every offload and found his groove again in attack, and I’m not even going to be too harsh on his goalkicking, two of those three misses being from the sideline chalk. When we needed a leader, King Gutho took up a sword and slayed the Sea Eagles.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

It was a blistering opening ten minutes for Maika Sivo, who showed off his skills that aren’t steamrolling opposition defenders. While he cooled after that start, Sivo did solid work rucking it out but there is improvement to be found in his work under kicks, a lot of balls were left to bounce and while he might have lost sight of the ball behind the posts, that spilled catch was ugly and could have cost us a lot more than it did.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

While some of the credit likely belongs to Brad Arthur and his halftime adjustments, good on Will Penisini and the right edge for turning things around after oranges. Manly found gold every time they dug into the right edge defence in the first half but were well contained on that side in the second. His combination with Jake Arthur sealed the result late and capped off what was a solid performance with the ball. That one-on-one steal was a real heartbreaker for Manly too, the kind of cruel but perhaps unnecessary punishment that I love seeing the team deliver to a hated enemy.


Tom Opacic

4 – Left Centre

Just call the man Tommy Offload, as Tom Opacic dug into the kit bag and pulled out some tricks to show there is more to him than just “being solid”. He worked hard, made some clever runs and of course, didn’t miss a tackle. His kick obstruction game needs some work though.


Waqa Blake

5 – Right Wing

It’s not always his fault, but where Waqa Blake defends tries seem to follow. His decision to continually show the fastest man in league the sideline was right up there with signing with the Tigers for questionability, and his tackle attempt on Jason Saab in the corner was so bad it stuffed up Clint Gutherson’s cover effort too.

I had him at hundreds to have scored that try, but the video never lies and his effort goes down as an all-timer by the thinnest of margins. It was a night fairly typical of the love/hate relationship Eels fans have with Waqa, but when your freshest memory is one of the great corner putdowns to win a game against Manly, it’s more love than hate right now.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. With Mitchell Moses out it was up to Dylan Brown to step up and lead this team, and step up he did. He terrorised Manly with his early darts down the short side, his combination with Shaun Lane was pitch perfect and he threatened with his running game all night long, capping it all off with an incredible solo try. That dummy into fend into epic step was something out of a video game, but his chase to defuse the kick on an early Manly raid is the moment coach Arthur will be replaying to the side through the week. Dylan was the difference tonight.


Jake Arthur

7 – Halfback

I fell asleep on the lounge waiting for the Brad Arthur press conference, only to wake up at dawn to find Michael Ennis still going on about the Brandon Smith hip drop. When I did finally watch it (and stopped laughing at it being held in the Brookvale toilet blocks), Brad was typically reserved in praise of his son, crediting the team for giving him a platform to work from and Dylan for leading the side. I bet poor old Jake Arthur didn’t get too much praise as a kid, because if you can’t give him a wrap after that win you are a harsh judge.

Jake was eased into the match as the left edge tore Manly to pieces, but his long kicking was solid and when the match was there to be won Jake threw a peach of a pass to put Waqa in then a great kick for Penisini sealed the result. It’s a good blueprint for the next few weeks, with Brown and Gutherson working their magic and allowing Arthur to chime in as needed, rather than his prior matches where too much seemed to be placed on his shoulders.



8 – Front Row

Another week, another 200 metres for the Momentous Moustache who saw the Manly forwards were fired up and decided to show them what true class looks like. He was beating the first man every run and his speed into the line was noticeably faster than any other Eels forward. Where Junior breaks down a wall by leaning into it with such force that it eventually crumbles, Reg charges through it like a cannonball. Both methods are effective, but I love watching RCGs more.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

It wasn’t a standout game from Reed Mahoney but there was certainly nothing wrong with his efforts. Dylan and Gutho were the hot hands so he just dished it off, and while I still have some questions about the speed of his service I’m glad he didn’t try and do too much here and only once did I notice him get particularly crash-ball happy. 


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Junior Paulo played equal parts distributor and battering ram this week, and was very effective in both roles. Tonight the bench contrast was especially stark, with the Eels scoring one try without both Junior and RCG on the field, one more with just RCG on the field, and five when both were out there. By the eye test, Parramatta were crap without the starters on the field, and the game turned in the second half when they came back on. Unfortunately the signing deadline has come and gone, so even if we could clone Reg and Junior we couldn’t get them into the squad for our finals run.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

We knew a bloke once we called “Crap Dave”. He asked us one time “So who’s Good Dave then?”, but we didn’t know any other Daves, it was just a good descriptor of him. That’s how I’m feeling about “Good Shaun Lane”, there isn’t a Bad Shaun Lane, we just call him Good Shaun Lane because he’s such a champion.

Anyway, Good Shaun Lane once again crushed the VB Hard Earned Index, but more importantly he crushed the TCT Grades Index. Lane is breaking tackles for fun, offloading at will and creating chances or half chances with almost every touch. He continues to defend well and his motor is running through the full 80. Just about every knock we’ve had on Lane is no more, he’s under the radar as the form second rower of the competition.


Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

Workmanlike effort from Isaiah Papali’i, who missed Mitchell Moses putting him into good attacking spaces. His work was still impressive on paper, good metres, a few tackle breaks and offloads, and no missed tackles, but when you set a standard of a try every week then a no-try week caps you at a B+.


Ryan Matterson

13 – Lock

Ryan Matterson is another who put up good numbers but whose attacking form didn’t hit the highs we are accustomed to. Defenders are definitely paying him close attention which is good news for the team as a whole, but bad news for those individual moments of brilliance. Matterson continues to work as a distributor and is starting to combine well with Junior Paulo, and let’s hope there isn’t anything serious with his head knock and he is right to go next week.


Maka Makatoa

14 – Interchange

A short stint for Makahesi Makatoa, who still only managed four touches and four tackles, with most of his running metres coming in broken play at the end of the first half. If you are only going to be out there for 15 minutes that straddle halftime we need to see more impact.


Bryce Cartwright

15 – Interchange

Another token ten for Bryce Cartwright, and I haven’t got a lot to say about him.


Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Oregon Kaufusi’s numbers deserve more than a B-, but he is getting pinged here for the drop in intensity that comes with the Eels bench rotation. Kaufusi himself was fine, but I didn’t notice him on the field at all, indicating to me the lack of impact we’ve all identified as the issue with the Parramatta bench. 


Marata Niukore

17 – Interchange

Simba’s numbers are about equal with Kaufusi, but there were at least a few runs from Marata Niukore that I remember as being a return to form. His speed to the line was good but he needs to be on the edge to be truly effective, and with Lane and Papali’i locking down those spots it’s hard to see where that time comes from.

That was the kind of win that just makes your weekend. Two weeks in a row Parramatta has put on a big win over a rival, if you can’t enjoy this then what are you going to enjoy?

Yes there are areas to improve, and the looming threat of South Sydney next Friday night has me dreading writing the preview, but other results are going their way and the Eels remain firmly in control of their top four destiny. The form of key players, the emergence of Dylan Brown and Shaun Lane, ending Manly’s season, there is a lot to be excited about right now. The smell of finals footy is in the air, and Parramatta is coming good at the right time of the year. 

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL

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Imagine how much better we would be with a decent dummy half, someone who engages the defence, someone who doesn’t kick on the 3rd tackle for no real gain. He was shit in 2020, great in 2021 but since signing with the dogs he’s gone to shit again, I would have given him a C.


I cannot for the life of me understand why Makatoa is still on the bench. Surely we need someone like Grieg, Rodwell or Ogden who will provide a little more punch when the ‘big two’ leave the field? Especially considering the fact that it’s usually less than 15 mins a game.
The drop off between the big two and the reserves is still alarming.


Greig is suspended

Won’t matter who we play they don’t get enough time to make a impact

Longfin Eel

Maybe of they provide more go-forward they would get more game time. When you have 2 of the best front rowers sitting on the bench, you want to get them back out asap.


I don’t think Greig is suspended Offside. No case to answer


I heard he was guess I was wrong


I agree with the grades. I would have given Shaun Lane an A+ as well personally, but at the end of the day what matters was how well they all played and I am proud of the whole team.


We can probably find areas to criticise with even some of the best performers, but as you say Zach, it was a good team performance


Matterson was a try for all money. Davey did not play at the ball and so has the bunker forgotten the benifit of the doubt and should have awarded the try. It’s like continually looking for something wrong. It’s the same against the Broncos with the Reynolds obstruction. These calls change the outcome of the game. Last night it didn’t. I shared Jake’s joy with Penisini’s try. That was a sweet kick. It worries me Gol you are so down on Cartwright. I think he is under utilised and a very clever footballer. No everyone can defend like Radley but,… Read more »

John Eel

Zero58 I agree with you on the Matterson try. Atkins is really pedantic about these reviews. He seems to look to disallow as opposed to the thought that there is insufficient evidence to overrule the referee. The other issue is that it takes the game into an area that could never be spotted by the eye test. On the Reynolds try, he went down every time an Eels try was scored. Seems like it is just something he does. The issue was also that Makatoa went to the inside shoulder, got a big chunk of it, but it was an… Read more »


And Reynolds set his feet to tackle, any movement laterally to defend on the outside was voided by the way he was balanced. Should have been taken into account.


It was a good game but still giving up to many points.
JA showed He has potential but still has things to work on defensively his reads are still a issue to me he reminds me of Matto when he was a 5/8 in the 20s he doesn’t look like a natural half and it mayn’t be his future but has potential to turn into a footballer.


I’m not sure where the criticism of Jake’s defence comes from. As far as halfbacks are concerned his defence is very good. Not in the Dylan Brown category, but better than many others.


I agree, I think JA has an excellent defensive game.

Longfin Eel

Yep and remember how bad Moses was in defence when he first came to Parra. BA fixed that real quick.


He can make a tackles it’s his descion making and slide defence that he needs to improve on. Manly exploited it last year when they touched us up at home and it was a clear plan last night to go at that side he’s young and it will improve Mitch was a worse defensive half when he started. If we lock in Mitch and Dyl up long-term I’d like to see him fill out and be a ball playing middle/edge Wade Graham style. Kid did good he has to do it again next week in what I feel will be… Read more »


Offside, I also think he has potential for that middle lock role, but that’s a few kgs away. For now, maybe his path takes him down the utility role first?


Really do not think JA is a utility- he is not an impact player. His try assists were good in this game and that is a big step up. Let’s see if he can do that again and even consistently. He is a back up half for MM and not DB. JAs main problem is he does not threaten the line and they know he will pass – except in red zone when he can kick or pass. Since he has poor acceleration and power I doubt he is consistent first grade quality at least until he is a few… Read more »


Maybe but you could argue that 1st grade is not the place to learn another postion


The diving last ditch tackle he made on an inside Manly ball to stop a line break went completely unnoticed by everybody

Last edited 5 months ago by parrathruandthru

Offside, he is only 19 yrs young and yes has things to learn. I am sure guys like Moses had similar things to learn. JA has a v good kick and his passing is getting better.


MVP was the person who told the outside backs to stop running, defense was excellent out wide in 2nd half. Reed looked like he was happy to explore which takes pressure off, and so happy for Jake, you can see experience from NSW cup has helped massively. He doesn’t do either of those two plays that created tries any game before last night. Great win, two in a row


That would’ve been BA.


What was Reed exploring?


A lot more than other weeks


I now rate Dylan Brown our best 6 since Brett Kenny. His efforts in both attack and defence were outstanding last night. What a talent. Please lock him up for the next 5 years Parra.


it bugs me that iffy opposition tries get passed no problem but every single try we score gets the full CSI treatment


Very true!


Not sure I’ve ever seen the drone view of a suspected forward pass before, but it was interesting. From ground level I thought Lanes pass looked forward but the camera was at an angle.
From the drone the ball, I reckon, left his fingers square then bent forward but not by as much as first look.

John Eel

If they ever achieve technology to detect forward passes it will effect the game dramatically.

When I look for a forward pass the best way to tell is the way the player throws the pass.

It is pretty obvious that when an attacker is facing the try line and throws the ball out in front of him that it is a forward pass. However with short passes this is almost never pulled up.

If they ever achieve this technology, many people who are calling for it may end up being disappointed.


GPS chips in the balls or something similar to help rule in forward passes. Been banging in about this for years.


Like Atkins, Casey Badger loves being the center of attention. She will make at least one controversial call every week.


Excellent grades, good summary. If I was to make grade adjustments, and cop a boooooooooo
It would be to drop JA to a B+ and upgrade Lane to A+.


Go on, defend that opinion on JA.


I am no fan of JA but I agree with the A grade. All things considered he can be forgiven for a cautious start ( which I think was the best tactic) and he played an excellent second half.


Easy. An A grade game is not determined on just being a number on the field in the first half. He did nothing A level in the first half.
Second half he had two try assists, one was a specy pass and the other was a fantastic controlled kick. Lets not be pom pom shakers and try to offer clear and honest assessment, otherwise you offer nothing but cheers, if that is your go ok but improvement and development never comes from yes men.


So Anonymous, people offering praise for Jakes game are yes men and Pom Pom shakers? I think the clear and honest assessment is that he worked his way into the game, ensuring that he fulfilled his basic brief, then pulled the trigger on a couple of key plays that put the team on the path to victory. It added up to a composed and balanced team performance. I’ll also guarantee two things. Firstly, Jake will be his own harshest critic. Secondly, his coach will tell him to put the game behind him now and focus on his next assignment. Neither… Read more »


Great read Gol.
I could get used to these grades.
Gutho – first game running over 200m this year. This is what is required.
Jake’s pass to Waqa had to be higher than Saab could reach and it was. Well done Jake!


While I think Brett Kenny is ina league of his own Dylan Brown is showing similar glimpses so happy for Jacob Arthur

John Eel

I agree with those sentiments. Both were as adept at defence as they were with attack.


Yes mate but Kenny was very young as well hard to beat


Also if we can get Nathan Brown back on the bench that would be our best side naturally with Moses back


Another also I think gutho’s return to form has been because I think he was hampered by injury appears injury free maybe wrong


Tanks, I suspected some sort of niggle for a few weeks, but look at him lurking around the middle and edges, being the elite support player. That’s the Gutho we need.


He had a huge strapping on his legs for weeks making mistakes we never see his mind seemed elsewhere hopefully back on board


Mr Sixties, Gutherson showed considerable pace with that try. I was impressed. Could be injury free.


Great win, the team looked fairly composed and not panicked all night, even during the lull. Dylan and Shaun Land were excellent as everyone has noted. Both of them are in career best form and are really gel’ing. I also thought when Gutho scored, it’s the fastest he ever looked …. And had a bit of a chuckle thinking “where did that come from!?” Interested in other perspectives, but when the interchange players come on I don’t think it’s just the bench players that cause the drop off in performance. We seem to have less purpose and focus about what… Read more »

Brett Allen

Well done to Jake


He can play Brett.

Brett Allen

I’ve never questioned that 60’s, I’ve said that he shouldn’t be our 3rd half, not yet.


You still saying that?


I would agree with Brett. JA is still years off being a 1st grade half. He did two quality try assists after 10 games of a low success rate. Firstly a first grade half that has no running attack has to do that consistently every game. Second the fact that he does not threaten the line is a major issue and one that will only be solved when he is a few years older and stronger. If the opposition knows 100% that you will pass it – and if you don’t you are too slow to get through the hole… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Wile

Jake does have a running game. He won’t take the ball through the line very often but what he does very well in his usual grade is take the ball right to the line engaging the defensive line. In NSW cup he’s 4th overall for line engaging runs and 1st when you do average per game.

That’s not what we want him to do as much in first grade. We need him to pass the ball to those who are likely to break through the line.

Brett Allen

Yes I am, and I think throwing him this young will ultimately be detrimental for his long term development. Not every 18 year old benefits from the “sink or swim” approach.


How is it sink or swim? He’s been used sparingly over the last two years, all of which adds up to being able to perform on matches like Friday night, and at some stage being considered for more regular inclusion. As for Wile’s comments above, he’s not a running half like Dylan or Mitch, however I have watched and covered his NSW Cup games for TCT and he can and does take on the line in matches. I guess the narrative of people is now “yeah, but blah, blah”. Ultimately, he got the job done and done well. That should… Read more »


Fully support JA as back up for MM. If you are going to use 1 great game out of 10 poor ones as a reason to say JA will be a great first grade half in a few years then that is reasonable and I hope you are right. Many would disagree. But if you are going to use one good game to suggest JA should be our full time utility then no that is not reasonable. JA has not shown he his good enough yet to be first grade quality in his best position. Let alone a utility when… Read more »


I’m sorry, but you keep referring to “10 bad games”; which games? We lost some games that he played in with 16 other team mates. Most of those matches he didn’t stand out in but the missed tackles and losses were not caused by him alone. We had no other fit substitutes at the time.
I feel very bad for the kid; if he plays and we loose it’s his fault. If he plays and we win it’s despite his below par performance.

Brett Allen

I don’t want to speak for 60’s here, but I doubt he thinks it’s one good game out of ten.
I just don’t see what the rush was to promote a young player who is at best, a middling talent. If he was a prodigy like DB, that would be different, but he’s not.


And Brown was given a regular First Grade spot at 19 with minimal reserve grade games. Jake is a back-up half brought into the starting spot when injuries occur as a bench player with minimal minutes. They’ve been promoted differently


BAs odd approach to the bench is not restricted to his selection of Jake at certain times. But that’s separate to the fact that Jake is doing a good job as 19 year old that is getting limited game time in first grade, and him being a necessary and valid selection at half back, both now and when shifted Dylan to the centres. The thing that is creating the unnecessary divide within the supporters is all the overly critical abuse of Jakes game, which is both inaccurate and overly personal. Its also driven by people who have pretty clear anti… Read more »


Well graded Gol, enjoyed them once again. I’m noticing mixed comments on JA below and here’s my take. I thought the grade was fair. BA and the team played him well into the game and when he became more active he did nothing wrong. I was impressed with his defence and his attacking options were sound. I’d like to see a bit more depth in some kicks but that will come. But the most impressive thing is that he is still only 19!

greg okladnikov

Really good team effort. Attack was outstanding and some of our tries were brilliant – both team tries and individual. I never thought I would say it but Shaun Lane could be our x factor going into the rest of the year. His height and pace causes issue, and the ability to offload around the back of the defenders or above their shoulder has become a weapon with Gutho in support. He has found a great consistency and is a threat every time he gets the ball. Dylan – outstanding. Opacic – continues to add stability in defence. Not sure… Read more »


Great notes Greg. As for next week, the Bunnies have been our Kryptonite. Maybe Shaun Lane is our new super power?

greg okladnikov

I would be running him against Illias all day. No way Illias will handle him on his own


I’ll second that Greg.


GREAT work Team and well done here, and also to the coaching staff – this has been a tough place to win. The stats told the story and great grades GOL. No issues here. Look i have nothing to add besides i hope we can get up for Souffs as this could be the stepping stone back into the top 4, and to beat them would also put a dent into their aspirations. I hope Matto is ok and comes back from the HIA. For me we need to use the ball well against Souffs and keep their big pack… Read more »


This will be no easy task Milo. Souths have almost an arrogance about them when they play us. They believe they’ll get it done and they do quite easily. They get on top early and stay there.
A top 4 spot is entirely in Parra’s hands, if they win every game there is no way they miss the top 4. They don’t even have to rely on other results. But it’s a tough run of matches.

John Eel

It could end up being a showdown in the final round between Eels and Storm for fourth spot.

That would be some home game.

Must say watching Sharks last night they appear to be slowing. I thought they really struggled against the Dragons last night.

Can anybody suggest a logical reason why Talaki was picked for SOO 2022?


Talaki puzzled me, his form said ‘look at me’, but on a handful of games only. Maybe Freddie could justify the larger squad to have a look at him, but the hornet’s nest found him out, just like NRL coaches are now on to him..cut down his time and space.


Feel as though if you had been a fly on the wall pregame listening to what BA had wanted from Jake during the match that he delivered it nearly spot on. Really happy for the kid. Was also great to see us not giving Saab the sideline to do with as he pleased in the second half, heart attack inducing stuff that first half…


They drilled that defensive slide all week and just made a slight adjustment at half time to cover it.

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