The Cumberland Throw

The NRLW Preview – Round 5, 2022: Eels vs Broncos

The relatively fledgling nature of the NRLW means it is still prone to throw out some truly bizarre playoff scenarios. Whereas in the NRL we often scoff when a team limps into the finals on the back of 12-win (or less) seasons the 2022 NRLW has spat out one of the most unique ‘win & in’ situations we have seen. Despite entering the 5th and final round of the regular season without a win to their name, the Parramatta Eels have two simple requirements to take part in the finals.

First things first. They take care of their business against the Brisbane Broncos with a win that includes a margin of victory of at least 6-points. Despite the fact that the Broncos hold an 11-point advantage in points differential over the Blue & Gold, the head-to-head match up means the critical break even points is set at the aforementioned 6-points. Secondly, they need the runaway favourites for the title in the Sydney Roosters to take care of the Gold Coast Titans by any margin.

That is it. Meet those two conditions and the currently winless Eels will punch a ticket to take on the Roosters in sudden death finals footy.

Needless to say, the finals have come early for the Parramatta Eels and it is time for Dean Widders, Simaima Taufa, Tiana Penitani and the women of our NRLW to stand up and be counted!

 

Game Info

Date: Sunday September 18, 2022

Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Kick Off: 12:05 PM, AEST

Referee: Kasey Badger

Senior Review Official: Chris Butler

Broadcast: Nine, Fox League, Kayo

 

The Teams

 

1 Gayle Broughton 1 Hayley Maddick
2 Zali Fay 2 Julia Robinson
3 Tiana Penitani (c) 3 Jaime Chapman
4 Rikeya Horne 4 Shenae Ciesiolka
5 Cassey Tohi-Hiku 5 Emily Bass
6 Ashleigh Quinlan 6 Tarryn Aiken
7 Tayla Preston 7 Ali Brigginshaw (c)
8 Filomina Hanisi 8 Annetta Nu’uausala
9 Seli Mailangi 9 Jada Ferguson
10 Ellie Johnston 10 Chelsea Lenarduzzi
11 Christian Pio 11 Jasmine Fogavini
12 Vanessa Foliaki 12 Amber Hall
13 Simaima Taufa (c) 13 Sophie Holyman
14 Kennedy Cherrington 14 Amy Turner
15 Rueben Cherrington 15 Hannah Larsson
21 Brooke Anderson 16 Brianna Clark
17 Rima Butler 17 Nita Maynard
18 Abbi Church 18 Paige Parker
17 Ruby-Jean Kennard 22 Sara Sautia

 

The Parramatta Eels

 

Parramatta’s backline has gradually transformed over the course of this season. While the pair of stalwarts in Gayle Broughton and Tiana Penitani have locked up their respective positions the winds of change have blown through the remaining thee positions. Rikeya Horne has made a successful shift from wing to centre while the wings themselves have seen a youthful surge as Zali Fay and Cassey Tohi-Hiku have emerged. Hopefully Coach Widders has finally locked in on the ideal balance of experience, speed, talent and discipline in his backline because they will need to maximise their opportunities against the Broncos.

Continuity is the name of the game across the rest of the team and indeed the only change of note in the lead up to the Sunday afternoon showdown comes on the bench as Brooke Anderson slips onto the interchange at the expense of Ruby-Jean Kennard.

Given the lack of change, the expectation is that everyone knows their jobs, each player knows what their assignments are and they will go out there and execute against Brisbane with gusto.

 

The Brisbane Broncos

 

While it is clear that these aren’t the same Broncos that galloped to three consecutive NRLW titles, they are not to be taken lightly by any means. A slow opening fortnight has given way to a strong victory over the Titans and a golden point loss to the Dragons. They have rounded into a legitimate patch of form and with the ever deadly Ali Brigginshaw at the helm they will not go quietly into the night.

Brigginshaw is without a doubt the player that the Eels will be keying onto the most given the dual threat she presents with the run and pass but among the outside backs Parramatta will need to keep tabs on Julia Robinson and Jamie Chapman in particular. Chelsea Lenarduzzi is the player to target in the forward pack and she is without a doubt the tone setter for the Brisbane middles. Contain her and you go a long way towards winning the ruck.

Former Eel Nita Maynard has landed a place on the Brisbane bench this week and there is always an almost morbid curiosity about how ex-Eels will fare against the Blue & Gold. I certainly expect her to play with a chip on the shoulder and look to take a cheeky dart or two around the ruck.

 

Key Players

 

Simaima Taufa

Parramatta’s talismanic lock forward has been every bit the absolute machine that she was earlier this year in the delayed 2021 season. It seems almost unfair to somehow levy any more responsibilities onto her shoulders but big time games require the most from your big time players. I have no doubt that Taufa is going to churn through 150+ running metres and a whole stack of tackles but this is the kind of clash where the fittest and hungriest players put themselves in the right place at the right time to make the critical play. A crucial four pointer or a game-saving tackle – look for Taufa to at that key juncture in the game.

 

Kennedy Cherrington

As with Simaima above there is no dancing around the fact that each of core players needs to deliver against the Broncos. This is a game primed for Kennedy Cherrington to be the wild card from the bench. Brisbane’s pack are by no means pushovers but Kennedy has been a consistent force for the Blue & Gold with three games over 100m in her four appearances but Sunday represents the chance for her to take over the game. Leave it all out there Kennedy.

 

Gayle Broughton

We have had some incredible glimpses of how much talent Gayle Broughton possesses. Her first half against the Dragons showed her All-World skills, in particular a wonderful combination with Penitani, but adapting to the younger rugby code has been a process for her. Trying to cram a month’s work of rugby league lessons into what amounts as a make-or-break final exam is a tough ask but if the Eels are to win the day they need their star fullback to put it all together.

Even if she isn’t flawless across the 70-minutes the key for Gayle is simply to stay involved. Be in and round the ball and things will happen for her. In fact, playing the shadow of the other two key players above will almost certainly open up massive second phase opportunities and perhaps even the keys to victory.

 

That aforementioned 6 point victory will take the Parramatta Eels a huge step closer to having two senior teams in the penultimate week of the season. Head up to the beautiful Central Coast to cheer the ladies on, or tune in from around midday.

Forty

 

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Spark

Love watching the girls go around.
What happened to our highly anticipated recruit Brooke Walker ? She played the opening match but we haven’t seen her since.
Whilst being unlucky, I feel the inexperience really showed a gulf between our side and the others. We always seemed just a little off the pace.
Gayle Broughton is an absolute star and can be the best player in the league.

Shaun

Didn’t get to see the game but looking at the results, Eels are top four and in the finals!

Spark

They were great. Would love Broughton to get involved a ton more but it seems she is adjusting from Rugby to league positionally and finds it hard to get involved.
Our forwards were magnificent.
The roosters are going to be hard to beat but anything is possible.
Well done to the girls !

sixties

The Roosters are a class outfit but we went with them at times during that Round 1 clash, and I believe that our edge defence has improved quite a bit since round 1.

Shaun

Saw the highlights and some tries. Not much from Broughton but as you say, she may still be adjusting.

Spark

If she can look at some tapes of Gutho and how he positions himself close to the ruck expecting the off load then she will create absolute havoc. Massive talent but seems to just be wasted.

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