The Cumberland Throw

The Gin & Logic – Round 3, 2022: Eels Out Joust Knights But Get Bludgeoned By Bunker

You know the timeless trope of the good angel, bad angel (or devil as it should really be titled) sitting on your shoulders? The one where they personify your struggles and personal conflict on the best course of action during a moral quandary? As I type out this blog, I look to my left shoulder and right now that little devil is a tiny, almost incandescently red Geoff Toovey whispering – nay chanting with puffed up cheeks – “Oh come on. Come on, That’s ridiculous.There has to got be an investigation into this! Someone has to be accountable for this!”. 

I nod to myself and think ‘gee you make a pretty compelling point imaginary little devil Geoff Toovey’. Seeking a contrasting point of view, I turn to the pint-sized angel who has manifested as incoming Parramatta Eels assistant coach Trent Barrett and I consider his sagely advice that is sure to calm me down. Trent leans in and says calmly  “To have our season decided by two video referee calls that in my opinion were incorrect is extremely tough to take. I have to be careful with what I say but what I would like is The Bunker and Tony Archer Jared Maxwell and the referees to go into my shed and explain to my players that their season is now finished on the back of those two calls.”.

Funny how two of the all-time coaching blow ups came from men at the helm of the Manly Sea Eagles. Still, when the little angel and the little devil are on the same page, you know something truly whack has gone down. So let’s debrief and perhaps debunk(er) some of the main talking points and narratives out of Parramatta’s Round 3 loss to the Newcastle Knights.


Bunker Busted

While you know I can be critical of poor officiating in these columns, I rarely go so far as to single out individuals and put them on blast. Today we make an exception following Matt Noyen’s catastrophic stint behind the NRL’s central control panel on Sunday. Not only was he responsible for a bizarre overturn of a critical try credited to Tayla Predebon, he practically cleared out the Bunker Bingo Card for backbreaking calls. To my tally we concluded the game with:

  • Parramatta unsuccessfully challenging the onfield call of Zali Fay failing to clear the ruck.
  • The aforementioned Predebon try where at no point was the ball grounded on a no-try referral.
  • Newcastle successfully challenging a dropped ball call which was overturned into Tayla Preston failing to clear the ruck.
  • A late phantom hip-drop tackle call which resulted in Najvada George getting put on report.

If I have missed anything, feel free to chime in down below in the comments.

The Fay penalty would go on to lead directly to Newcastle’s opening points while the Predebon head-scratcher lifted the home team ahead of the Eels. Individually, any of these calls would be brutal but collectively they simply serve to make you very, very cynical. It isn’t good enough and the standard of officiating in the NRLW continues to be substandard. If the NRL is fair dinkum about continuing to push the NRLW as the premier code in the female space they need to rectify it rather soon.


Smith & Preston

The Parramatta Eels might have unearthed a gem – or dare I say a gun – in Tayla Preston. After missing Round 1, she has impressed in consecutive starts with the 22 year old playmaker showing a cool head and a willingness to engage the defensive line. Both are obviously important tools for any halfback but Preston has also brought a polished kicking game into the mix. Through that she has allowed Parramatta to remain competitive through periods where their opposition have enjoyed the better of the arm wrestle.

The immediate future of the NRLW is very much a mystery when it comes to roster construction with looming expansion but in Preston and Losana Lutu the Eels could have two young and talented halves to potentially build around.


Flash & Fundamentals

Some tries you earn on the back of a combination of slick footwork, strength through contact and a sheer minded determination to get the ball down. Some you earn simply by being in the right place at the right time. Rikeya Horne pocketed one of each on the weekend with a sparkling individual effort to open the scoring in the 8th minute before securing the brace by scooping up a botched bomb defusal between Tamika Upton and Jakiya Whitfield.

The first try highlighted the importance of individual brilliance while the second reinforced why simply doing your job is always important. Rugby league 101 on both sides of the coin.

Horne’s flexibility to play both wing and centre has certainly been valuable for the Blue & Gold but her pound-for-pound strength at centre looks to be where she really shines.


Eels Show They Can Graft & Grind, Now Time For The Gloss

Over the last fortnight we have seen the Parramatta Eels chase collisions and battle vigorously through the forwards against two quality opposition teams. It has been a massive steps forwards for the team since the first up loss to the Roosters. Conversely, while we have seen some slick footy in passages – particular against the Dragons – the next step for Dean Widders and his players is to consistently put themselves in positions to succeed in the red zone.

Yes that means featuring Gayle Broughton more but equally so I think Gayle needs to post herself up in better positions from the midfield through to the red zone. That also means a variety of polished goal line attacking passages and the ability to create exploitable mismatches for the likes Broughton, Horne and Tiana Penitani. If the Eels can apply the gloss to the graft and grind then they will finish the season a well-rounded outfit.


The Final Word

Unfortunately, for all of the positives to take out of a loss where we got positively jobbed by The Bunker our season now hands precariously by a thread. The Brisbane Broncos has claimed sole possession of 4th place with a win over the Dragons in Round 3. Thankfully, Parramatta do still hold the head-to-head match against the Broncos in hand so it is not written in stone just yet. They will however have to beat both QLD franchises handsomely to climb the ladder to 4pts and also field a competitive points differential.

The progress made by this team throughs Rounds 2 and 3 shows they have it in them to do just that but it will have to be done entirely on the road which is always a difficult proposition. We will all be cheering them home regardless and I am amped to see continued growth for individuals and the team alongside outright success on the scoreboard!


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I understand that all referees and officials are subjected to a fairly intensive review session. I also understand that forgiveness is given under the umbrella of ‘human’ mistakes and in an effort to educate and better train those officials. Nonetheless, the mistakes the officials in the bunker make , in both the womens and mens competition sometimes borders on incompetence. Others, who entertain the existence of ‘fixed’ games, revel in what they call the obvious. “See that, see that “ they shout! As a believer in the existence of fair competition, I sometimes find myself agreeing with their assertions! How… Read more »


Without match officials we obviously wouldn’t have a game. Theirs is often a thankless task where they cop abuse from keyboard warriors. The on field officials will make errors. That’s understood. The bunker will make the occasional one but should mostly get it right. There are no reasons for the calls that Forty highlighted to be wrong. And the overrule to award the try to Newcastle should either embarrass the NRL or at least cause them to have a thorough conversation with the official.


Indeed, but how many times have we said this year that a decision from the bunker is so incredulously wrong that we anticipate an official inquiry?
As I said, we just have to ride it out and hope that the football gods smile on us.

Rich C

It is one thing for human error on the field, but another for the bunker to consistently be wrong and one sided as it appeared on Sunday. They have the advantage of replays. How they get it wrong is beyond me. I also believe that the matchwinner should have been looked at for possible interference on the marker.


Rich, it was the most consistently contentious run of bunker decisions in one match that I can remember.

Rich C

That’s an understatement. It got to the stage where you knew which way the call would go, regardless of the video evidence


I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking the Bunker gave us a raw deal.

But while I was initially ropeable about the Predebon try, rewatching the replay several times, there is ONE frame that shows the ball on the line as she begins to lose her grip. It was far from conclusive, but it was a single frame. I believe she’d began to lose her grip at that point, but the actual ball did appear (for a microsecond) to glance the line with her hand (loosely) on the ball.


I also re-watched several times. Did you see were the ref was and the view she had? Yet she was overruled. She only referred it to see if the ball was lost in the in-goal or in the field of play.


I don’t think the evidence was enough to over-turn the referee’s decision but when I saw the frame he was basing the decision on, I could at least understand where he’d drawn his evidence from.

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