The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Qualifying Final vs Panthers


Parramatta Eels 8

Penrith Panthers 27

Sorry Eels fans, I haven’t got much of a sense of humour about that one. The good I suppose is that we kept our streak of not losing while playing well alive, just ignore that it means we didn’t bring our best to a huge occasion.

One actual good: the season continues next weekend at CommBank Stadium. Hope yet remains.

Aside from him, the Eels could only play as well as the Panthers allowed them, and Penrith used every trick in their book to spoil Parramatta and knock them out of the contest. They dominated initial contact and line speed, allowing them to push and drag the ball carrier backwards and control the ruck speed. In a war of attrition their back five ran the ball 80 times while our bench middle played six minutes. Easy to see why we were blown apart in the last 20, and it wasn’t just because Mitchell Moses was knocked into la-la land.

Full credit, Penrith were at their best and Parramatta couldn’t get out of their own way. Forward passes, knock-ons, a challenge Shane Watson would call a bit rich, it just wasn’t happening for the Eels. Shake it off and come back stronger next week.

Parramatta might rely a bit too much on X-factor and not enough on basic football nous. There was little to no expansive play when the Panthers were down a man, including zero attempts to exploit the makeshift edge combination with numbers despite being parked in the attacking zone. Penrith rushed up all night with terrific line speed but no attempt was made to counter that with outside-in plays or going wider. Some of Penrith’s points may have come from crazy kicks or bad bounces, but it was all earned by playing a composed, smart game of football while the Eels bashed their head into a brick wall and wondered why they had a headache.

For the numbers inclined this is sober reading:

Possession: Panthers 51%, Eels 49%
Completions: Panthers 35/42 (83%), Eels 27/40 (67%)
Run metres: Panthers 1,754, Eels 1,338
Post contact metres: Panthers 608, Eels 467
Offloads: Eels 12, Panthers 5
Errors: Eels 14, Panthers 10

I don’t think anybody really deserves this one, but I’m going to go left field and give a shout out to Oregon Kaufusi, who scored a powerful try and continued his strong recent form. He didn’t miss a tackle, made no errors and was solid running the ball. I don’t think I’m at “I’ll be sad when you’re gone” stage with Big Country, but tonight I sat back and thought “you da MVP, Oregon”.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

I’ll be honest, I got home from a wedding at midnight and watched this one on delay, so everything from when Mitchell Moses got knocked out I saw in fast forward. Clint Gutherson could probably do more with his positioning to help his inept winger on those bombs, and we needed more from him with the ball. It was just one of those games.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

If I had to define unforgivable I’d draw a picture of Jamie Lyon, then I’d say a close second definition would be mucking up a play-the-ball under minimal pressure, in our own half, in a finals match. Aside from that clanger I didn’t think Maika Sivo was terrible, though watching him get stopped by Nathan Cleary wasn’t a highlight, even if Bula was off balance.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

Will Penisini may have passed his HIA but the eye test and the stat sheet suggests he was knocked out of the game by that swinging arm. It wasn’t a game for the backs but sometimes you just have to find ways to get involved.


Tom Opacic

4 – Left Centre

Something happened early on in the game where I made a mental note to remember it, but all I remember now is that it involved Tom Opacic. The way the night went I think it is probably to Tom’s benefit, as on average any memory of an Eel from this night will not be a good one. 


Waqa Blake

5 – Right Wing

Walk due east from CommBank Stadium about 28 kilometres and you will find yourself where Waqa Blake belongs: in the sea. Waqa had what I’m going to call a Zero Tackle game, where afterwards you are checking how many years are left on his contract. Just 2023 for those wondering. He may do some good with the ball, but when he’s capable of this on the big stage he can’t be in the side.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

Dylan Brown went into his shell for this one, and while that might be a great protective measure it does nothing to win football games. Dominating club games was added to his repertoire in 2022, but dominating finals games might still be a work in progress.


Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

For three quarters of this game Parramatta remained competitive on the back of two things: Mitchell Moses’ kicking game and his ability to cut down Viliame Kikau over and over and over. Ultimately he got his head in a very wrong place and will be at long odds to go out next week, and if he isn’t there in week two I don’t expect the Eels to be around the finals come week three.



8 – Front Row

Reg worked real hard, but this grade is in comparison to his regular performance. Penrith chopped him down in his tracks time after time, like they’d figured out an ancient pressure point that stopped his run instantly. His post-contact metres in that first stint may have been negative, such was the Panthers dominance over him. Credit to RCG for never stopping, but we needed beast mode from our props tonight and we got mice.


Reed Mahoney

9 – Hooker

There were moments in that first half where I thought Reed Mahoney was going to be the difference in the match. He was darting off the few quick play-the-balls he received, showing some deception in delaying his passes and put Oregon over on the crash ball. Anecdotally it seemed like he was sticking to contact more often as well. I’m going to grade him on that potential as much as anything and hope we see more of it through the rest of the finals campaign.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Junior Paulo found slightly more success than his front row partner but in the end he was a part of a unit that was dominated at contact time after time. The line speed of Penrith presented a classic chance for his ballplaying to shine and while he got a few offloads away it wasn’t enough to turn the contest. He also gets docked because that challenge was disgusting in every way: time and state of the game, on a decision that is proving hard to overturn in 2022, where he dropped the damn ball twice anyway. His captaincy hasn’t seemed to add much value to the team or his performances, so I’d just strip it now so he can’t waste a challenge again.


Shaun Lane

11 – Second Row

The numbers looked like the Shaun Lane of old, where he didn’t work enough and didn’t do enough with what he had. It was tough going and a guy who excels at exploiting one-on-one matchups isn’t going to look great when the Panthers are gang tackling until the 80th minute. It’d have been nice to see some Lane Magic, but I’m not surprised we didn’t considering the circumstances.


Isaiah Papali’i

12 – Second Row

His metres per run and post contact numbers are ugly, but Ice was neither problem nor solution this week. Aside from Oregon Kaufusi he topped the forwards in tackle efficiency, so that’s something I suppose. 


Ryan Matterson

13 – Interchange

It looked like things might happen around Matto a few times, but in the end little came from it. Like Lane, this wasn’t a scenario designed for Ryan Matterson to shine, so credit to him for trying to make crap-ade from the crap he found himself in.


Makahesi Makatoa

14 – Interchange

This grade is for Brad Arthur rather than the Mak Attak, who had 25 rounds of football to either learn to trust Makatoa with enough minutes to ease the pressure on his middles or experiment and find somebody he did trust. In a middle battle where our big men were finding the going tough, it is unacceptable that a healthy forward gets six bloody minutes. I’ll defend plenty about BA, but what he has done with his bench middles this year is amateur.


Jake Arthur

15 – Interchange

I watched most of Jake Arthur’s time on the field in fast forward, and while I briefly hoped that Moses going down would be the moment the boy became a Parramatta man as he entered footy folklore and led the team to an upset win, just looking at the state of our forwards and who was on our wing quickly shook those dreams from my head. No need to put the boot in, I’m sure all of the usual bores will be ready to do that for me in the comments.


Oregon Kaufusi

16 – Interchange

Yeah, this grade is probably as much about the try, but Oregon Kaufusi deserves credit for turning a season where I wanted to trade him for a Chinese meal (not even a succulent one, dry Mongolian Lamb would have been fine) into one where I’m kinda sorta going to miss him a little bit, maybe. He came on the field into a street fight where his mates were being knocked down and kicked in the ribs, and he started kicking back. 


Marata Niukore

17 – Lock

Starting Simba still seems like the strategy for mine, and I was glad he could shift out and cover centre for a minute even if he couldn’t capture that lightning in a bottle wide form of last year. His post contact numbers stand out like a Toyota Camry in a carpark full of Getz’s, Echo’s and Suzuki Swift’s. He was the best, but he didn’t beat much.

If that’s the best we’ve got I’m going to need to delete my Twitter account next weekend. We’re not the first team to be made to look ordinary by Penrith and we won’t be the last, but it was an unfortunate stage for the Parramatta Eels to choose to shoot themselves in the foot over and over. Our big name middle were beaten physically and the side as a whole were found out mentally.

That’s the big worry for me. Even the Ray Price statue can see that referees put the whistle away in finals football and thus middle dominance becomes more crucial than ever. Penrith did a Brad Arthur special and “front loaded their effort” by winning contact and thus winning the right to lay all over the tackle, drag attackers backwards and leave the Eels barely making 30 metres a set. Yet Parramatta played the same game they always do, quick release of the tackle and if you run it and get belted, just run it harder next time.

I don’t think Parramatta has the advantage in physicality and talent to just play their game and win the competition. Adjustments must be made, but at least we return home and will provide a very hostile environment for the Storm (or the Raiders, for completeness sake) next weekend. Be a bit upset, brush it off and be glad our finals campaign hasn’t ended yet. Penrith lost to Souths first week last year and then went on to beat them in the grand final. It ain’t over yet.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL

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Gol, happy to agree with most of your grades until your last line about JA. We just don’t need the CONSTANT rider, warning people to leave him alone. He’s a grown man. How about we just allow people to call it as they see it ?


Haha I thought the same re Paul Carige. I must admit as painful as it was at the time, the footage on YouTube of the dumbest 5 minutes of footy ever is pretty funny to watch, particularly with Sterlos commentary and groans.

Brett Allen

Actually it wasn’t, it was 13-8 at the time. With a proper backup half of the quality of say, Sean O’Sullivan, we could have salvaged the situation. Yes BA’s lack of trust in players like Makatoa, Rodwell, Greig, Cartwright et al is a problem, the bigger issue is a lack of depth in key positions. Moreover, we have gotten rid of capable backups like Jaemon Salmon to make room for JA. If that’s not a massive failure by the club then I’m not here.


I agree with that. The team was fatigued and on the back foot. Moses ill judged tackle came as a result of being on that back foot. We’d already lost it from the drop bombs and forward passes.

DAVE 9000

While I think it’s fair to question the depth of playmaker experience in the squad (I’m curious to see what it’d be like if we had one/some of the bigger guys stepped up when a playmaker is needed – running halfback Junior Paulo is a stupid pipe dream of mine), if there was any hope of salvaging the situation last night it needed to be led by Brown and Gutho, and they were MIA. JA had his share of errors, and he might not be ready for first grade, but his job out there last night should have been making… Read more »


Or destroying the teams hopes

Salty Pete

Pardon the pun, but Salmon was the one that who got away. I was a big fan of his versatility. I could never understand it until nepotism reared it’s head and then it all made sense.


Look maybe we just let people make their own comments and if they say something we disagree with, then we have a proper conversation? ATM any discussion about JA Is tempered with riders, either litteral or implied, that any criticism is completely inappropriate. As an aside, when JA produces a performance that justifies his selection in the side according to the fans, then I’m sure those criticisms will cease.


Maybe he can justify that performance in reserve grade first


Jake grad Z enough said. One of the worst, non athletic first graders I’ve ever seen and he’s only there because he is the bosses SON.

Brett Allen

The grades are too harsh for the portion leading up to Mitch Moses’ concussion. It’s 13-8 and we’re balls deep in it. Mitch visits Disneyland and we’re left with no one’s idea of even a 4th string halfback. That was the time for our 5/8 to stand tall, but he took the easy way out. He should have been front centre, told the child to stay out of the way, and taken control. Instead we were left rudderless. That’s on DB, it’s on the child, it’s on Mark O’Neill, Jim Sarantinos & Shane McElduff who should have said no to… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Brett Allen

OMG I think sixties just had a heart attack – call the ambulance !!!


Sixties will never criticize ba’s selections of Jake. He criticized Gutherson’s selection instead


Brad’s a joke Brett. I feel sorry for the kid but Brad is too stubborn and wanted him to experience finals.

Brett Allen

I’ve defended BA for nine years, I’ve defended the decision to give JA a contract, I’ve defended JA, but I can no longer do it. He is simply not good enough.


I agree Brett, at 13-8 we were still in it. Penrith threw everything they had at Parra and yet it was only five points difference. Moses going off was in my mind the turning point. I think your criticism of JA is a little harsh. Your right he is just a kid. Some young ones mature really quickly but, not JA. He has made some progress but, not enough for the business end of the season. As a Reggie he is probably a little to good but, first grade his confidence tells us he is not ready. His confidence is… Read more »

Longfin Eel

Jake was pretty ordinary when he came on, but the platform was already laid out for him. Dropped balls at crucial times, being dominated in the middle, dropping off attacking players and our middles not getting a rest despite obvious fatigue did not help at all. This loss is on the whole team, coach included. We need to be much better in all the above next week. If Moses doesn’t play this is going to be almost impossible. Canberra will run rings around us. They will be up for this match, but will Parra be?


I think the thing that gets me is we always seem to have a fatal flaw in our game, and teams find it easy to exploit. Most commonly it has been our right edge defence, but it has also been frustrating us into imploding and this game it was the inability to catch the footy (not helped by a lack of kick pressure). I don’t see how Waqa can play wing next weekend. He will be such an obvious and easy target. That all being said, the Riff were at their best, we were solid for 50 mins and then… Read more »


Tks Gol, I thought Moses was our best, but not a No7’s night when the forwards are struggling to just stay in it. Our second half stats are what nightmares are made of, completions were south of 50%. We just don’t manage finals refereeing well, Penrith’s constant line speed slowly kills you off, and I must give them credit, they lay all over you just long enough to convince the ref but get ready for the next gang surge. There were a few backward drags that one penalty would stop, forward momentum halted, arm with ball on ground but allowed… Read more »

Colin Hussey

I walked away from the box as I had enough of the riff, ref and no razzle from the eels. They were shot from the time of the rifs first score. I also am very much tempted to walk away from the finals also, but I quit with 14 minutes to go. I also wondered if there was a ref on the field that knows the game of NRL, not the crap he dished up last night. Being honest I believe the NRL, both game and bosses have destroyed the game, and it appears as if the game schedule has… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Colin Hussey

They really struggled to get some players into the game last night. It was a battle of the middle, but barely brought in the edges and certainly didn’t use the left side attack much. Lane had the lowest runs of the forwards and Opa had the lowest touches. They kept on cutting them out with floaters to Sivo, despite the left side combo being our strongest attacking options of the last few months. There was no kick pressure on Cleary either, except for the occasional one from Mahoney. He didn’t get tested much in defence either, see the edges, so… Read more »


Agree we need a coaching grade.


Arthur is holding a the club and each supporters head demanding his son be chosen in the 17. That’s a fact because no fan can justify his selection


Can’t fault the grades at all. Waqa deserves the F, JA the D and giving Maka such a short stint (especially in a final) was extremely stupid by BA. I dread to think how bad next week will turn out if Moses doesn’t play.


After reading your comments GOL and the gradings, I hope you are not doing this segment next year. I find it hard that our expert comes home from a Friday night wedding, watches a replay and can make correct judgements about player and team performance. If I was your editor I would drop you if you can’t turn up for a game or at least watch it live. It seems to me you knew the result and fastwarded the detail. We were in that game up to our eyeballs at half time 6/7 but you failed to recognise this. Many/most… Read more »


Mate, it is a supporters website. Gol does what Gol does and good on him. He has fun with the grades. I’d be devastated if they tried to be professional. Y’know, why don’t you create your own website, community and your own grades if you aren’t happy? Gol, and the other blokes who I get confused because their use numbers in their names which both add up to sixty don’t owe you, or any other person who comments here anything. But good comment re Mitch. His defence on Kikau was pretty good. Until, well you know when.

Last edited 25 days ago by Shaun

Shaun, guess what I am a supporter just like you. If you don’t want Gol to be professional, what would you like him to be?
Wedding Singer?….. the opportunity is there to critique and celebrate and be humerous. On this occasion it was critique time and not just the players.


The capitulation is once again an indication of our teams and individuals mental weekness. How can you not be up for a final game? The first two sets with the ball said it all. We kept getting knocked down and lost metres? Game over. I keep on ranting about it but have yet to get an in depth response about the use of sports psychology. Is there none? And yes Sixties I have read your previous responses that have been not elucidating. Blake should have lost his place as soon as Sean Russell was available. But BA persists with failed… Read more »

Joe Vass

Don’t care about grading players. Key areas where we must be A+ Kick chase D- Pressure on their kickers particularly Cleary D- Line speed in defence D Ball control D These are areas of the game entirely within our control. We did not match them in any of these key areas. Our wingers will always struggle under high balls if you let Cleary kick with no pressure on him. The Panthers attack through their defence constantly driving our ball runners back in gang tackles. Of course it you constantly run one out with no other players in motion you make… Read more »


Jake can’t be in the side for 3 main reasons 1. He isn’t first grader. The boys can stick up for him but the white flag went up from the whole side who knew their fate as soon as he stepped on the field. The pace of NSW Cup is sometimes beyond him. The pace of NRL finals is light years beyond him. 2. There is no injury where he can provide adequate cover. He’s a half who isn’t of first grade standard , especially defensively, and he is beyond useless as a back up dummy half 3. His own… Read more »

Swampy Miller

Parramatta were beaten by a better side on the night and the class of Cleary showed through (especially after a 6 week spell). I have criticised the coaching tactics of Arthur before and his over reliance on the one out plays (winning the contact as he puts it) but if this your thing then you have got to use your roster sensibly to distribute the minutes for this continued monotonous barrage. Jake Arthur should not be in the 17 as he (at this stage) does not have the necessary skill set to mix it – no speed off the mark,… Read more »


A hand full of Bs, majority of Cs, a D and an F – fair enough grades Gol, an excellent job as usual, appreciate the way you’ve done that all year. Your points about x-factor and your MVP are most telling. The x-factor is the lack of x-factor, no change to tactics when the riff were down to 12, no change of tactics when Waqa looked vulnerable, no change of tactics when Moses went off (DBrown so disappointing). And the MVP was the backup middle forward – not pretty. Whoever was meant to pressure Cleary just failed. Surely BA sitting… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by DDay

Apart from alot of things we could say my biggest concern is the fact that we have a junior system and some how JA is our best option as a back up and next week it looks like he is our only option at 7 sadly.

I wouldn’t be upset to see Simmionson back next week but BA doesn’t drop players for bad form


It ain’t over yet but looking at Raiders form it might be next week. If BA picks the same bench and winger next week he deserves to be summarily shot out of a cannon away from Parra for good. Poor choice by the coach yet he continues to persist with 15 players. Regardless of form we were never going to beat Penfiff with that strategy, I and nearly every other supporter, could see that but he can’t. Obviously we can’t win more than 3 on the trot so time to reset for 3 hard games from next week!


Exactly. Now Parra only need to win three from three. I still reckon they can beat Penrith if we meet them in the big dance.


I believe we can as well Shaun but the other side of the draw was extremely impressive over the weekend. I would like to think we can handle Raiders…..after that it will be difficult, impossible if he keeps that bench!
But we were in that game on Friday and I do not mind the phycology of playing Penrith off a loss considering if we won on Friday, it would have been a ridiculous situation of beating them 4 times in a row within the one season…..


Like a few on here we played NRL footy rather than semi final football. We got rolled for not being competitive over the park; and lack of kick pressure. If we didnt have MM and RM we would have been cooked earlier.
I fear for next week as Canberra are going to be worse than Penrith in terms of slowing us down / ruck dominance.
BA needs to instil some semi final type footy in us. I am not confident tbh


Yes mate our play the ball always looks very slow. We’re not hitting the right spots and look predictable un attack for us to get a one one one and a quick play. Canberra looked very quick.


As much as i hate to say it Mick we need to be ruthless like when Cronulla won the comp, and others. You have to have forwards who wont take a backward step and i am not saying ours did but we seemed to lose impact; we must be better. No excuses for me.
I am not a Ricky fan but i respect how he has got this team back into the finals after their GF loss the other year.


Breaking news…Andrew Gee blew a 10 mtr penalty last night in Sharks v Cows…very late in game, so how many is that in over 250 minutes of finals football?


We just didn’t play any footy, even when we could we played safety first. Fair enough but we beat Penrith before by off loading and playing heads up footy, we were scared at times, gutho and Brown ……..mia


Seems like sixties has come to terms that Jake is shithouse and will never be a first grader under any other coach – sixties isn’t banning Jake posts now.


Some fans behaviour is always going to be questionable unfortunately. My son ( regrettably) is a roosters supporter, at a penrith v chooks match, we entered the gents to find 7-8 Riff supporters kicking a Chooks supporter on the floor, we managed to break it up, and the victim whilst shaken was relatively ok. Terrible behaviour, all because he was wearing a different jersey???? Not saying this is indicative of Penrith supporters, but pack mentality, but obviously no pride in their selves or the club they love for that matter. Supporters as much as players are a reflection of the… Read more »


You and your son did the right thing and I suggest it didn’t matter what the colours the boy on the floor was wearing……our society leaves a lot to be desired in so many ways…..where was ground security/police when this was happening. Of course in the good old days the police would have come in the protaganists would get a kick up the arse and sent home with a lesson. Now it is the police who were probably not worried because they know the judiciary would do bugger all, and they would likely be copping a charge as well if… Read more »



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