The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 25 vs Storm

 

Parramatta Eels 22

Melbourne Storm 14

After the Bulldogs loss I swore I wouldn’t expose my son to the pain of Parramatta Eels fandom, but I’ll be damned if we didn’t rock up to his preschool Father’s Day BBQ in matching Eels jerseys this morning. That’s what beating Melbourne can do to a man.

Forget the final score and the closing stages, this was a domination, an absolute demolition job. From the moment Dylan Brown brushed aside a million defenders to score I had every confidence this would be an Eels win. In the middle of the park, on the edges, in attack and defence, this game was all Parramatta.

To say the Storm were choked out of the contest would incorrectly imply they were ever alive in it in the first place. With everything to play for on the biggest stage of the year, Parramatta shined brighter than they have all season. 

And how good was the atmosphere? While the Bulldogs and Sea Eagles are the traditional rivals of Parramatta and will remain so until those minnow clubs go broke or move to Perth, there is no team Eels fans in 2022 hate more than Melbourne. Sure, they’re eminently hateable, but now that Parramatta are stepping up and dominating these cheating bastards we can truly call it a rivalry.



Would I prefer that the Eels didn’t clock off with ten to go and the game in hand? Of course. Am I going to dwell on it when we just belted Melbourne to make the top four and set up a finals clash with Penrith? Not a chance.

I made a vow to boo every time a grub touched the ball and thus lost my voice about 15 minutes into the game. It made for an interesting work day, but my boss loves footy and hates Melbourne, so he understands.

While this was a game more about domination than X-factor, that try from Dylan Brown was as satisfying as it was improbable and was an effort few other halves in the NRL could match.

There were several points when the metres gained stats came up on the big screen at the ground, where not one Storm forward was featured in the top ten. Only Felise Kaufusi and Tui Kamikamica cracked the 100 metre mark for Melbourne, RCG and Junior made more post-contact metres than NAS and Jesse Bromwich made total metres. That’s what I mean when I call this a domination.

Maybe the X-factor is the friends we made along the way, all of whom were happy to inform Ashley Klein he was a wanker as he fumbled between inconsistent decisions. It was seriously the best Eels crowd I’ve heard in years. 

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 53%, Storm 47%
Completions: Eels 32/38 (84%), Storm 31/41 (75%)
Run metres: Eels 1,700, Storm 1,700
Post contact metres: Eels 635, Storm 556
Offloads: Eels 15, Storm 7
Tackles made: Storm 372, Eels 295
Errors: Storm 11, Eels 9
Penalties conceded: Eels 6, Storm 8
Top four finishes in 2022: Eels 1, Storm 0


It was a tough pick between the two Eels captains, but to call Junior Paulo a wrecking ball in this match would undersell the damage he did to the Melbourne Storm forward pack on his way to another 200 metre game. In a game where the Eels forwards came to make a statement against a tough Storm side, Junior led by example. You da MVP, Junez. Sorry I keep forgetting that the P is now a B.

 

 

 

 

Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Clint Gutherson would have breathed easy this week as the Parramatta Eels’ dominance of field position limited the chances the Storm got and thus how many superhuman defensive efforts were required of him. His effort to cut down Munster in open space early was still impressive, but after that he settled in to putting tries on instead of saving them, and that ball for Sivo’s try was a beauty. In their hour of need, King Gutho is delivering for his people.


 

Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

The try was nice, but what I loved about Maika Sivo in this game was what he did without the ball. He was aggressive going after the high ball in defence, and I liked his ploy of showing his opposite the sideline only to then give them a close up view by shoving them to the ground. There’s never a dull moment with Maika Sivo in your side.


 

Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

His try was a nice finish with work to do, but Will Penisini had an uncharacteristic night with his tackling form and racked up a couple of errors to boot. The man responsible for more stadium ejections than XXXX Gold has quietly scored four tries in his last five appearances after a slow start to the year, and with this effort he becomes one of only six Eels to play every game this year. I’ll forgive him a few signs of fatigue when he can still dig deep and cut down Justin Olam with the line in sight.


 

Tom Opacic

4 – Left Centre

The true Turbo Tom of the NRL didn’t have an eye popping game in attack or enter beast mode like he has in recent weeks, but Tom Opacic was rock solid defensively and is one of the few Eels who doesn’t mind a scoot from dummy half. Parramatta are 5-1 since Turbo returned to first grade, so just for good luck charm value alone he should be in the side every week of the finals campaign.


 

Waqa Blake

5 – Right Wing

The Waqa Blake experience was a short ride this week as he struggled a bit for involvement. That didn’t stop him making a couple of errors, letting a bomb bounce and finding himself rushing in on a man who was never getting the ball, but he also didn’t really cost us anything too dearly so I’ll take it as a night.


 

Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Dylan Brown registered seven tackle breaks this week, of which fourteen came on his jinking run to the line for the opening try. I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed a moment of football this year more than watching Dylan hit the grub trifecta of Asofa-Solomona, Kaufusi and Munster all falling off him in the one play. Maybe Ray Stone scoring by giving NAS a falcon gets close. That try alone secured him the A, and while the rest of his performance was controlled, he showed almost every trick he has across the 80 minutes.


 

Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

You could have written your own ticket for Mitchell Moses to deliver the hit of the year, but the little halfback that could absolutely snapping Kenny Bromwich was the second “moment of the year” contender for me in the space of 40 minutes of football. Aside from stealing souls, Mitch kicked brilliantly under some intense, occasionally illegal pressure. The individual stats might not show much for Mitch, but the fact the Storm barely had an opportunity until the 66th minute can be credited in part to the control of our halfback.


 

RCG

8 – Front Row

His mammoth 64 minute, 185 metre effort deserves the grade alone, but Reagan Campbell-Gillard sealed the deal with his reaction to NSW coach Brad Fittler in the dressing sheds.

Freddy walks to the beat of his own drum, but siding with Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary over this mountain of a man should get you committed.


 

Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

He isn’t making the waves he did last year, but the fact that Reed Mahoney is healthy going into the finals campaign already means he’s contributing more to the Eels 2022 premiership campaign than he did in season 2021. I thought he was solid tonight, you don’t match a forward pack like Melbourne’s without strong service, and he’s sniffing around in the running game again. A 40 tackle theory around Reed (that he only has a good game when making fewer than 40 tackles) is starting to form in my mind.


 

Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

The captain saved his best knock for the most important game of the season thus far, like a champion thoroughbred kicking on at the 200 metre mark. His running numbers were insane, his offloads were firing and he made the Storm forwards look meek and humbled them accordingly. With the finish line in sight I expect a few more dominant efforts from Junior.


 

Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

Watching live I thought Shaun Lane was well contained by the Melbourne defence, but he still racked up the metres pre and post contact and was again solid with his tackling. He’s starting to draw plenty of attention when running in shape on that left edge, opening the kind of space Dylan Brown squeezed through for the first try, and I’d expect a few plays off of that come finals time.


 

Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

While Brad Arthur shrugged off a suggestion that Isaiah Papali’i was playing hurt, his eight missed tackles and uncharacteristically average metres per run suggest he wasn’t feeling his usual self. Hopefully it is a once off, because we’re going to need him at his best next week to earn that week off he might need. Maybe it was just guilt at being featured in the farewell montage when he has every intention of playing in Blue and Gold next year.


 

Ryan Matterson

13 – Interchange

Another game of hard sledding for Ryan Matterson, who like Shaun Lane is drawing the attention of the defence in a way that has to play to our advantage moving forward. Along with Junior, Matto continues to be a great distributor and he and Oregon Kaufusi were the only Eels forwards to not miss a tackle. The highlight reel plays weren’t there, but the performance remains strong.


 

Makahesi Makatoa

14 – Interchange

Poor old Mak Attak didn’t really get the chance to go a second round with NAS, playing a paltry 12 minutes where he did little of major impact but also little wrong. The questions about rotation remain, but if your takeaway from this win is either “bench usage” or “but the late tries” then football is unlikely to ever leave you satisfied.


 

Jake Arthur

15 – Interchange

Not a lot of game time for Jake Arthur, either, which is usually going to mean nobody got hurt and thus probably represents a good result for the Eels. It’ll be the best 17 every week from here out, so we’ll finally get a definitive answer on whether Brad Arthur values coverage of key positions over potential utility value. I’d suggest the answer is coverage and thus Jake will retain his spot.


 

Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

I’m loath to say it, but Oregon Kaufusi is coming good to close the season. He’s making effective metres but most importantly he’s not missing tackles or putting the team under pressure. Brad Arthur has trusted Big Country all season long and is being rewarded for that faith at the right time.


 

Marata Niukore

17 – Lock

Simba was again very aggressive and made the most of a short stint, and it was nice to see the Matterson/Niukore swap work just as effectively against a top opponent as it did against lesser opposition. It took a while to figure out the best way to unlock Marata Niukore’s talents this year, but I’m glad BA has nailed it coming into the finals.


There you have it – the Parramatta Eels are a top four side in 2022. While nobody is going to accuse the Eels of consistency they also never made losing a habit and showed a remarkable ability to bounce back from ordinary performances. Not that they’ll need to do that again this year, but this is clearly a different Parramatta side to recent seasons and hopefully it will deliver a different result in the finals.

The time for pessimism and scepticism is over; the finals are here and against the odds the Eels have two chances and a guaranteed home elimination final. We’re three games away from the drought breaking, starting with beating the Panthers for the third time this year. You know they didn’t want to play us and next week we’ll remind them why.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.

Gol

Stats and images provided by NRL

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Mike Pez

Great summation and grades as always.
Loved the look RCG gave Freddy in the post game interviews, priceless.
Might be a stretch but is anyone thinking RCG and Lane are smokeys for a Kangaroos call up come end of the season…?

Milo

Maybe mate but you only need to see who is the Australian coach….i doubt both will.

Choppy

Meninga has come out and specifically said that RCG is someone he’s looking at for a kangaroo jersey. With Paulo, Josh Papali’i and others committing to their countries of origin, he’s a chance of making it. Dunno where Lane figures, but I’d suggest there are a few incumbents ahead of him.

Mike Pez

Oh yeah, I remember hearing something re Meninga and RCG, hopefully RCG does get a call up and proves Freddy wrong for dropping him for game 2 and 3 SOO this year.
Re my Lane comment, I thought more in the squad than in the run on side, like Gutho was for the Blues this year. Any exposure to rep sides for the Eels team can only mean good things for the boys come season 2023.

John Eel

I think RCG was thinking “why would I be looking to take inspiration from that grub”.

I thought Fittler looked uncomfortable.

pete

Mike, agree. Reg was like, What? Why would I have watched them? Just shows how biased the NRL media is. Already trying to annoint Roosters as premiers. Freddy should have acknowledged Regs performance. Instead he made it about his precious Roosters.

Milo

Thanks Gol, great grades and no issues here. I have enjoyed reading your reports after each game, and well done.
The boys just need a freshen up i think as playing Melb is v physical as we saw….and i hope the forwards are ok physically as we just need to dominate Penrith in the forwards and i think it will then all come together.

Offside

What frustrated me about that game is ots given me hope as we know hope for a parramatta fan is a dangerous thing but I’m prepared to get my heart broken again

Sam

“whether Brad Arthur values coverage of key positions over potential utility value. I’d suggest the answer is coverage and thus Jake will retain his spot“

Whether Brad Arthur values winnings or giving his son a chance at claiming he played finals.

Choppy

Would Carty have got minutes in that game? The only reserves to play meaningful minutes were Kaufusi and Matterson (or Niukore if you consider him the presumptive bench warmer). Maka got 12 minutes (and is ahead of Carty in the pecking order) and JA got less than 10. Swap Carty for JA and the minutes allocation doesn’t change. In fact, it probably means we don’t rest Mahoney at the end, so it’s unlikely Carty would’ve got any minutes at all. So if we have a bench spot that we basically don’t use (rightly or wrongly) it makes sense to use… Read more »

pete

Does anyone seriously think that? The narrative of BA just picking his son for nepotism is completely false and has been disproved many times during the season. Jake has earned his spot and gets rotated in/out of the bench as others have.
If it was nepotism he would be starting instead of Mitch or Dyl. But he’s not he’s rotating in/out for the bench. The entire nepotism narrative simply does Not stack up and doesn’t make sense.

Wally21

Great summation Gol. I too lost my voice from booing the grubs. As you suggested, Dylbags stepping and charging through the 3 biggest grubs to play Footy since Les Boyd, was the highlight!

Last edited 1 month ago by Wally21
Clive

Great game and a fantastic team performance. If I’m being critical the short drop outs while we’ll in control of the game are a ridiculous idea. One of them changed the momentum late and kick started the Melbourne comeback. Waqa not getting to those kicks on the full is a concern and it will mean Cleary goes after him big time next Friday. The bench rotation is again a head scratcher. All the Storm tries were scored through and around Papali’i. He was obviously gassed and could have benefited from a rest with 20min to go. Yep I’m nit picking… Read more »

Murph

Not the first game I’ve felt Ice looked tired at the end. Niukore is doing well in his starting role for the first 20 mins. I’d like to also see him replace Ice on the edge for last 15-20 mins as well as potential solution here, which would mean Maka getting more time in the middle rotation. Speed and intensity of games is only going up from here, so we need make greater use of the bench for more mins or risk the last ten mins from the other night being repeated.

HamSammich

Fantastic note on the crowd noise. What came first the crowd giving the team an extra leg up or the team dominating making the crowd more excited? Either way it was great involvement, hopefully at following games we continue to see Parramatta stadium about 80% full

John Eel

Ham good to see you doing regular posts again

Big Derek

What a performance and a great night , a terrific crowd for a Thursday night and the noise level was tremendous, then it went up a notch when Sivo ran 50 metres to score off the Gutho special. A fantastic way to end the season and feeling comfortable for what is in front of us. However the realisation that 5 of the starting 17 will be moving on, plus a few others leaving dimmed the exhilaration , sure we have an experienced 9 coming in and 2 reserve grade players signed who basically haven’t made starting line ups. There’s some… Read more »

Sam

Those important enough to know the plans do , that leaves you out i guess !

Glenn

Can understand the delay in the grades Gol, much like their losses, you’ve been celebrating rather than drinking yourself into oblivion. Was confident of a Parra win, said before the match by 10+ and the last few minutes put paid to that unfortunately. Also confident of a win next week, but…..BA needs to use 17 players rather than 15 which is a must imo!

Zero58

Paulo was my MVP. That is his best game this year. Did the hard stuff in defence but what I liked the most was his running on the edge and bending the line of defence. His best game. As for the bench – well we all have our opinion – that’s okay. I don’t necessarily agree with the bench or its rotation. But, right or wrong it’s got us there. Five weeks ago after the Souths game the common thought we are slipping out of the eight. That went through my mind. My point is despite what we see with… Read more »

Spark

Thanks for the grades. I’d be looking at putting Ice on the bench for the next game. He just can’t manage 80 and he was completely gone for the last 10 minutes on Thursday night. I don’t know who would start in his absence but I just think a firing Ice coming into the game after about 20 mins might be the way to go. Dylan … man this bloke is an enigma. Could be the best player in the game but damn he does some crazy shit from time to time! We take the brilliant with the bizarre! Gutho… Read more »

Clive

I’d still start with Ice, he’s earned his spot but bringing him off for a rest at some stage has to the plan going forward.

Spark

You could be right. I suppose we have to balance the benefit of when to have him on the park. I was thinking of someone like Rodwell to take the hits in the first 20 then bring Ice on and take advantage of his running game.

Brinson

I would be looking at an alternative to Jake who is the weakness. If we had Cartwright or brown they could relieve a tired player in the last 20. Jake is too slow. When meanie made that break it was Jake’s man with fresh legs to chase down. But Jake doesn’t have fast leg speed

Gol

Harsh go judging a halfback for not being able to keep up with a winger.

Brinson

Thats a bad statement. Most halfbacks are pretty quick. Jake is slower than most forwards.

Anonymous

No, you are finding criticism without foundation. Give it a rest. Jake is not slower than most forwards and Meaney is one of the fastest backs in the NRL.

pete

Excellent read Gol.
We also had the proud matching Parra jerseys all day.
I really like your take on Mahoney playing better with less than 40 tackles. I think his passing has been better as a result.
Junior’s best game since Origin.
The entire team sheet looks to be hitting their straps at the right time of year.
Top 4!
Go Eels!!

BDon

Tks Gol, to win a game like that demands a forward be MVP. Junior and RCG deserve top billing. The stats indicate our discipline was at a good level (recognising the last 10 minutes was ordinary), you just need to be using your energy to be forcing momentum, not continually repelling it from poor play, and moreso v the top teams at finals time. I can’t follow some of the ruck officiating, and we don’t get any decent camera on the 10mtrs which is a dogs breakfast at times, is it a TV broadcast policy that we don’t, maybe an… Read more »

Colin Hussey

A very good post Gol, & very good I with excellent results on show.

Very much a battlefield that had the opposition suffering from a high dose of shell shock.

Loved it all.

Darryl

Mitch was a stand out. He has developed a hardness that I feel he didn’t have when he came to us. He absorbed hits that wouldn’t have a few seasons ago. He dished out his own bit of nasty. Loved it. His defence all this year has been solid and improving. If he doesn’t stop the attacker up front, then he has slowed them for the cover to arrive and shut down the attack. He remained composed throughout the game. I would run Simba in the first 20 before Matto comes on as is happening and the use him in… Read more »

Anonymous

Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion with valid reasoning Darryl.

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