The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 1 vs Storm


Parramatta Eels 12

Melbourne Storm 16

Hopgood? More like HopGREAT!

I can’t believe nobody has made that joke before.

I’m way more down than I should be after a first round loss to a perennial contender that starts every year in mid-season form. There were plenty of positives, sure, but this was a game the Parramatta Eels should have been able to win. Eels players were once again little brothers in the ruck wrestle, flung around the lounge room by their bigger sibling while a disinterested dad very occasionally waved his arm in the air for a set restart without looking up from his copy of Cam Smith’s autobiography. At some point you need to start driving 70 in a 60 zone because everybody else is doing it and nobody is getting pulled over.

The ruck was a problem all night, with Meaney’s try coming because Hodgson, Murchie and Greig, three forwards you may note, couldn’t put Jahrome Hughes, a halfback, on the ground and were sprawled across the ruck as he played the ball. Efforts need to improve in this department, and fast.

The bench management remains amateur, it didn’t go without notice that Harry Grant scored the matchwinner off a slow play-the-ball by running through a lock who had played 84 minutes and made so many tackles and runs the VB Hard Earned Index was smoking, and a prop off a short pre-season playing 59 minutes while making 20+ runs and 30+ tackles. Maybe you don’t want Greig, Makatoa and Momoisea out there in the dying stages, but how about giving the starters a better spell mid game then? 

You hope an off-season gives a team time to improve where they were lacking, and while I’m excited for the new attacking shapes I was really hoping for a bit more steel in the ruck and to not see an N/A in the grades for zero minutes off a four forward bench.

Melbourne had all the X-factor in this one, where Dylan Brown bumbled about the field like he’d been dragged in from grade footy and Mitchell Moses was being pressured all night, Cameron Munster got back out onto the field with a bone sticking out of his hand and calmly led his team to victory while Harry Grant did exactly what we thought Harry Grant would do and iced the game with clever play from dummy half. 

For the numbers inclined:

Possession: Eels 53%, Storm 47%
Completions: Eels 36/45 (80%), Storm 38/48 (79%)
Post contact metres: Eels 581, Storm 524
Tackle breaks: Eels 37, Storm 30
Average PTB speed: Eels 3.86s, Storm 2.98s
Offloads: Eels 16, Storm 13
Tackles made: Eels 337, Storm 404
Errors: Eels 12, Storm 11
Penalties: Eels 6, Storm 6
Set restarts conceded: Eels 2, Storm 1

Apologies, we’re using last year’s pictures for now because all our new recruits are suspiciously absent from the profile photos. Going the extra mile is reserved for wins, so enjoy some placeholders until we get proper media for the side.

The captain started the year strong, as Junior Paulo claims the first MVP of the year not just for his rollicking try, but for his huge minutes and powerful running. It was a tough contest between him and new arrival J’maine Hopgood, but in a game where the forwards didn’t get much help from their playmakers, Junior stood tall.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

The King was more like the Prince in this one, showing up second best. Clint Gutherson crushed the “almost breaks” stat I keep in my head but was either a step off the pace or a step slower than he used to be in converting them. The Melbourne scramble defence excelled so I’ll cut the King some slack, but we are used to him carrying us to victory against the invaders from Victoria and tonight he was still in bed when they started climbing the walls.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Brad Arthur will make a very pointed, wordless gesture at training on Monday of grabbing Maika Sivo’s wallet, pulling out his kicking licence and tearing it into tiny pieces, one at a time. It’ll take a minute, and Sivo will have got the point well before he’s finished. Dylan Brown will struggle to contain a giggle through the entire performance.

Sivo’s best moment was the return of Maika Trash Services, tossing Jahrome Hughes over the sideline like a bag of soiled nappies. Let’s say he is warming into the season.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

The man incapable of registering his Farmville account due to name filters had a solid first hitout, running hard, defending well enough and passing a head injury assessment. He scored the first try of the year to be the answer to a pub trivia question in September, probably hosted by Maroon, but beyond that this was a game of football for Will.


Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

Waqa Blake’s numbers look like a junior version of his centre partner, so he gets the junior grade. Any game I’m not cursing his name feels like a win at this point, but Waqa’s running here was much more hard slog than smooth machine, and he is far better suited to the latter.


Isaac Lumelume

22 – Right Wing

It wasn’t exactly a revenge game for the ages, but Isaac Lumelume didn’t make me hate him in his first hitout in Blue and Gold. He didn’t do enough to convince that he deserves the spot for longer than it takes the casualty ward to clear out, but there was no procession of tries down his wing either, for which bookies everywhere are grateful as thousands of same game multis went up in smoke.


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

I couldn’t bring myself to pull out the F stamp for Dylbags, but it was bloody close. This was one of his worst first grade performances; ineffective in attack, out of position on set plays and riddled with crucial errors and a lack of composure. A lot of the attack ran through Dylan Brown (he out-touched Mitch 55-51 and out-passed him 42-25, with 21 of those Moses touches being kicks) and we scored 12 points, and the backbreaking error in golden point is not the calm head you need from a big money half.


Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

Mitchell Moses gets almost the entirety of his grade for his kicking game, which was on point and kept the field position battle an even contest despite the Storm’s ruck dominance. Melbourne roughed him up early and gave away a few penalties for it, but it didn’t knock his kicking game until it mattered most; that field goal attempt played out in slow motion. I’d hoped he was over his “skewing makeable goal kicks” phase as well after that matchwinner against Manly last year, but here we are.



8 – Front Row

I gave him some guff for the miss on Harry Grant, but the fatigue wasn’t Reg’s fault in this one. He fell just shy of 200 running metres, a lot of them hard slogs, and made 33 tackles. He exceeded his 59 minutes played only twice last year, and while our big money props should be playing big minute games I’m hoping he can get some support and thus some rest through the season.


Josh Hodgson

9 – Hooker

There were some moments of clunkiness between Josh Hodgson and his halves, to be expected with an abbreviated pre-season and some significant style clashes, but overall I really enjoyed what Hodgson brought to the Eels side. Him creeping out at first receiver has now created two tries in two games, this time around to a wide running Junior Paulo. He handled 84 minutes just fine and I’d say a lot of people left this game saying “maybe they won’t miss Mahoney that much”. Sixties has been telling you that all summer long, but not everybody is as smart as you to be reading good old TCT.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Junior Paulo hasn’t played 68 minutes in a game since round 9, 2021, and while he blamed himself for a late mistake I’m going to blame the coach who had him play 68 minutes on a 6 week pre-season with four forwards on the bench. Junior cracked his try scoring account early running a scary wide line off of Josh Hodgson, but he also made 19 other runs for over 200 metres, skittled six defenders in broken tackles and made 30 of his own. He’s in good touch.


Bryce Cartwright

11 – Second Row

The Carty Party was unusually reserved in this one, preferring good metres and solid defence to hanging off balconies and goonbags tied to clotheslines. I can get behind this version of Bryce Cartwright, who may just earn himself a permanent position in the 17 with efforts like this. Like mum and dad coming home from a weekend away to find the house wasn’t trashed by their 16-year old son, I’m pleasantly surprised.


Matt Doorey

12 – Second Row

Matt “don’t have a nickname for him yet” Doorey was the quietest of the starting pack, the only non-hooker to not make 20 runs (he only made 11), but his lines were solid, his runs strong and he more than passed the ever accurate eye test. In the shootout for a starting spot once Shaun Lane returns, Doorey did nothing wrong but the impressive performance of his back row mate might have him digging into the bag of tricks next week.


J’maine Hopgood

13 – Lock

What a debut for Hollywood Hopgood, his black shadow Eels profile picture now hanging proudly on the wall of 60% of NRL Supercoach players whose long search for a new deity since Corey Parker’s retirement has finally come to an end. Workrate for days, offloads galore and 57 tackles, the only blight on Hopgood’s performance was the 7 missed tackles and 4 more ineffective, plus conceding both Parramatta set restarts. Ryan Matterson better buy a Game Boy with the four grand he saved, because he’ll need something to entertain himself while Hopgood keeps him on the bench.


Jirah Momoisea

14 – Interchange

I don’t remember exactly which 24 minutes Jirah Momoisea spent on the park, but he needed to be busier in his stint than making 3 runs and 8 tackles. It isn’t just the short bench minutes that grates me about Brad Arthur’s interchange strategy, it is when these short stint guys don’t play like they need to expend their entire gas tank in 20 minutes. At least his play the balls were quick.


Jack Murchie

15 – Interchange

Jack Murchie took almost all of the minutes left behind by Oregon Kaufusi and did at least as good a job as old brickhands ever did of filling them. 30 tackles for one miss, 13 runs, 116 metres and most importantly, no backbreaking drops or errors. I like him.


Wiremu Greig

16 – Interchange

Those sickos out there that watch reserve grade games got a rare treat last year when Wiremu Greig pulled off the kind of hit that you tell your grandchildren about, absolutely burying a Rabbitohs forward who was belted so hard his leg was broken. I wanted to see Greig do that to Nelson Asofa-Solomona, but instead he was solid and relatively busy in a short burst. As our impact bench prop I’d like to see more, you know, impact, but he was fine enough.


Makahesi Makatoa

17 – Interchange

Maybe the fourth interchange chair is hidden behind the pile of Mount Franklin empties in the corner of the coaches box, but somebody needs to remind Brad Arthur that in battles of attrition, like say, low scoring round one games that go into golden point, you really should use all of your bench forwards.

There’s no shame in losing to the round one Melbourne Storm, disappointment sure, but no shame. There are plenty of positive signs, a few players to come back and nascent combinations to grow. Even losing a ruck battle to the lords of the wrestle isn’t a cause for panic. It’s good to feel bad after this one, it shows the high standards Parramatta has set over the last few seasons.

This is just week one of a rough five game stretch to start the year. No game in week two is a must win, but gee there is going to be some discourse if we can’t get over the Nico Hynes-less Sharks next Friday. Manly, Penrith and the Roosters await after that, each on a Thursday night. Parramatta can’t afford to ease into the season, and despite some rough edges this week I think they hit the ground running.

It’s still great to have footy back, even if it made me absolutely miserable for the last two days. Funnily enough I started feeling better right about 10pm last night when Brisbane beat Penrith and reminded me that there is joy in life after all.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media

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Excellent grades. Agree with everything you stated but add my two points –
1. Always take the two !!! We were gifted two points in front of the post. It’s always a tight game with the Storm. Rediculous decision.
2. Gutho continues with the bloody short drop out ! I shudder every time he does it.
It’s all about field position.
We need to put it away.

Last edited 17 days ago by Spark

It seemed Hopgood was saying take the 2 and Moses and Gutho over ruled him.
Hopgood is Captaincy material! We need to sign him up long term and give him the Captaincy in the future. He’s the kind of leader we have needed.


Agree – we certainly need to extend him because his value is only going to go up and fast.


An accurate, entertaining review. Thanks Gol. From afar I felt that our team were a bit flat for such a big game and the crowd were fairly mute. It was a case of extremely imbecilic mistakes costing us the win. On to next week and hopefully the return of a player or two.


PS it is time for Moses to make a decision about his future. It is a big distraction we don’t need.

Colin Hussey

I have a feeling that Moses does not know what he wants and what he can do, been two long on holidays, and may have an issue with known how much money he can get, depending on whether he earns it or not, with the eels. I note with the resigning of Sivo he has nearly perfected his wierd running style that has him spinning in circles heading towards the sideline. I guess that being the first round there is hope going forward and that is the big issue, we had good players, not performing greatly but we also had… Read more »


I am becoming very concerned about this season, we lost the juniors and Cup games this weekend and that culture of winning seems a long way away. I thought this year we had to restart that from the bottom up, it’s not there or happening. I watched the Souths/Sharks game last night and felt both those sides would murder us on the edges. I also thought we were a notch below Panthers/Broncs….so there are 4 sides out of the six I we will struggle against. Didn’t see Manly/Dogs and the Cowboys and Canberra were about the standard of us and… Read more »


Poppa, I’m backing that combinations will only get better. There were some pretty costly isolated individual moments in that game, whereas our major systemic issues seem to be our depth, bench rotation and consistently slower ruck play. I still believe our spine is in top 4 but had an off night, maybe the 1,6&7 are the ones to adjust and improve. I don’t think any of them believe they were anywhere near their best, the Storm had far more to do with that than Hodgson. But I’ll keep an eye on your theory, early days and you never know….


BDon, I hope your right, they are pretty intelligent footballers in Moses and Hodgson and I hope they work it out as well.
I suppose I am actually saying it won’t be easy to change their styles….. but it may take Moses to another level that he lacks in terms of doing damage from closer to the ruck…i.e. the way Hughes and Cleary both do.
It would become another string to his bow.


Great read ta, how about shutda, or openda, for doorey?


The parra bench is terribly ineffective (like it was last year). Matto helps a little bit but when you compare our bench to other benches our starting props are not spelled by anyone who can do even half the job they do. BA can’t just keep flogging junior, reg and hopgood. Especially when our backs make minimal metres in comparison to other back lines (roosters, Cronulla, cowboys and panthers). Broncos showed how well their squad is balanced last night. Flagler spells Payne/Jensen and tapau comes on in the second half for a brief stint. Their backs (farnworth and Coates are… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Anonymous

Hmmmm … the bench.
It’s either that –
A. BA doesn’t see a problem in not using his whole bench and believes that his use thereof is effective OR
B. he doesn’t believe that he has the players on the bench to effectively use them all efficiently.
It’s either one or the other.
If I had to pick one, I’m going with option A.


Yes I think you are right Sparky, I’m sure that BA doesn’t see a lot of things we see….that doesn’t mean we know better of course?


He knows more than we will ever know about coaching but … it just seems so incongruous that he would always just run 16 players time and time again.
Maybe there is a method to the madness.


60s, did we practice quick PTBs because we’re still the slowest team around? A quick PTB is the most effective form of attack yet we’re dunces at it and have been forever!!!


Glenn, there was nothing that could be done in that game. The players were fighting to play the ball but Klein allowed the Storm to do what they wanted. The crowd were baying for him to penalise them but he gave them the licence to do as they wanted. And when they played the ball they were allowed to walk off the mark. Which made the penalty against Hodgson even more ridiculous, given the Storm player didn’t stand to plant the ball.


Tks Gol. I use that St George game at BankWest a couple of years back where they infringed in the ruck unchecked and with energy in the first half until the ref was tapped on the shoulder at half time but the game had already slipped away from us. We struggle under those conditions and the Storm put it on us again with a bit more polish. Moses and Brown found no room to move and just paddled the ball on and Gutho was always in heavy traffic. First game of the year, ambushed, the training drills not making much… Read more »


It was more of the same for us frustrating at times impressive at others.

I believe our forward pack is over hyped purely based on how often we rely on Mitch to kick us out of trouble I put alot of this down to BAs stubborn bench usage having 4 forwards on the bench and having your starters work themselves to the ground won’t work all season.

Our Halves were shite and that’s why we lost both are and will be better
1st game of the season see what happens next week

Martin Pluss

Thanks for the insights. You see a lot more than me. This got my attention. … And the storm more tackling.


Fantastic contribution from Hopgood, I had NO IDEA he was that good. Brown’s performance was a disaster but did he carry an injury into the game (I heard that from someone)? I, like everyone else, can’t understand why Brad Arthur would not have a bit more faith in Makatoa to get in there for a spell – run hard up the guts, tackle hard, give another forward a rest. Why keep that tank of petrol unused? I threw my beer at the TV screaming and crying when Sivo kicked that ball with tackles up our sleeve. That was so hard… Read more »


Sivos play was a typical rugby play. I would say it was a muscle memory type of thing that he saw it and took it.
If he had scored, we would have thought he was a genius.
Low percentage play – something the Eels are famous for.


I don’t understand why they even went to Sivo off that scrum. Yet again trying to make it all happen on the first play, and it felt like we had a fair bit of that last night.

The new playmaker combo Hodgo & Paulo is promising.

Hopgood is the hopbest. Had a heck of a game and really looking forward to seeing what he can do.


Dave, I agree with you. Gutho shouldn’t have passed the ball – it wasn’t on.


Great read Gol. Totally agree with your analysis. Melbourne looked a bit fitter and seemed to hit harder in defence. They were more gritty. The play the ball speed – we can’t just keep rolling off when other teams lay all over us. We need to be smarter this year! Klein allows teams to do so we should be more aware. (Grand final) We had plenty to like. But a few defensive errors cost us the game. Hopgood and Hodgo have improved the middle. Hopgood called for the 2 points but was overruled. The spine will improve the combinations. Gutho… Read more »


Disappointing the game was there to be won .last year when gutho was making uncharacteristic mistakes then came good my take was he was playing with injury I thought someone on this site mentioned that he was in doubt for this game with an ankle injury maybe that’s the case that he was a bit off improvement all round guaranteed


Tanky, we said it on the podcast – that Gutho was about a half second slower than normal.

Prof Daz

Matt Doorey’s nickname is obviously Justkeepswimming Doorey.
The only positive from Dylan Brown’s performance was that it wasn’t as bad as Matt Burton’s.
Minus Lane and Matto, the resulting bench rotation lacks spark. Defensive intensity dropped too low first 20 or so mins of H2.
Can the Eels get more impact – defensively and in attack – from the bench this season? How? Will the Eels be vulnerable in tight, fast games if intensity in the middle routinely goes missing once Paulo and RCG go off?

John Eel

I think you answered your own question. It will come from Lane and Matto


This is true but we can’t afford to wait for them. The 17 for Rnd 2 won’t change much, maybe where Murchie starts and Carty off bench but Junz n Reg looking forward to another 60+ min game.


Hey Daz, I think justkeepswimming is a bit too hard for Parra supporters, How about NEMO on the same theme, maybe too esoteric, but people will adjust and you can continue teaching them Greek Mythology for the rest of the sezun.

Prof Daz

Probably, Poppa. One can only try

Prof Daz

Only partially, John. I was hinting others could hopefully work the problem more fully! Lane will displace Cartwright. Matto and Hopgood will probably share the middle lock role. But … that’s the first game Cartwright has ever played where he played like a back rower not a 6. So we have a bench of Cartwright, Matto and … I’m just not seeing a true middle yet who has shown they’re up to maintaining the kind of rage BA uses Paulo and RCG to attain. Matto has mastered the distributor role in the middle and has been excellent, but I just… Read more »


I think we are a middle short in our roster. Prof Daz, which bench in the NRL do you think brings the high impact?


I watched NSW CUP. The only two I felt who have some promise is pretty and Matalele. I don’t see much in any of the other guys.



John Eel

I think that it is pretty clear that the club have been after that high quality third Middle. I think Murchie is around the same quality as Kaufusi but I don’t think that is really the type of player that BA is looking for.

They have looked at a couple. Klemmer I thought would have been good however he was looking for more salary and game time than the Eels were offering.

Of the others in the squad maybe Greig has a high octane 20 minutes in him bridging halftime.

!0 Year Member

To state the obvious. He is now John


Unfortunately we stopped playing after the 60 min mark, shades of 2018 (shiver), that lead to the Storm win. Storm, as always, are very fit and started dominating the ruck leaving various players scattered on the ground like 10 pins after a strike. Our bench players started getting completely run over which meant BA had to throw our starters back on early. We desperately need a dominate middle forward on the bench as it appears what we currently have is not up to standard. Matterson will fix one problem but its clear that none of the new players has reached… Read more »


I have a real fear of 2018 imminence, I think you have every right to shiver. Maybe our problem to unearth dominant middles should be based around defense, maybe smaller defense orientated players that will not get walked through, an analogy of battleships versus destroyer’s. I think a problem everywhere. I would like a view from 60’s about Yates who shared the hooking role with Rein in Cup yesterday. i.e. he may not be a Hodgson type ballplayer, but he would tackle everything that moves to sure up the middle, i.e. rest Hodgson when the likes of Junior and… Read more »


I had Yates as close to best on field in what was a disappointing loss for the Cup team yesterday. So maybe your question is whether Yates could play a Ray Stone type role on the bench? I think that if Yates gets continuity of game time and form in Cup, it’s not out of the realms of possibility.

Last edited 15 days ago by sixties

Yates again eh ?
Terrific player.


To slow if ask me.

John Eel

Sixties Poppa brings up a good point. Further based on your opinion of him in State Cup on the weekend and what I saw in the Eels two preseason trials, he has not had a bad game all season.

Also BA seemingly agrees given he picked him ahead of Rein on the weekend


Poppa, I am a little dumbfounded that 2018 is ringing in your ears. The first match of the season and will are reflecting back into that year. I always read your comments and don’t necessarily disagree with them but 2018. Really!! The circumstances are entirely different – Moses and Norman didn’t gel and I felt there was some resentment about Hayne coming back into the side. We are dealing with a new forward pack with two key forwards missing. The game was there to be won and they should have nailed it. Storm were no better than Parra. Panic led… Read more »


Zero 58, I hear you, my recollections of 2018 are vivid in my mind as the like Cook, Reddy and Price in the 79 grand final, once scarred it is difficult to put things out of your mind. 60’s can relate to that I can attest. None of those things you mentioned back then (2018) were a reason and you are right, the similarity I am referring to is the game itself (Penrith) where we dominated then laid over, the next week we played Manly in sweltering heat and had 50 put on us. Interestingly I never thought the Moses/Norman… Read more »


Did we lose a dominant middle Glenn? I think there were several similar complaints last year about the bench. I asked Prof Daz above, and I’ll ask the same of you. Which benches in the NRL do you think brings the dominant middle? Souths swapped their starters around last night to bring impact from the bench.

Last edited 15 days ago by sixties

The no name Storm bench forwards completely dominated our bench forwards so them for example.


Did we lose a dominant middle Glenn?

I think that question is answered by the fact we have room for a Yates and still have room for dominant middles.

That said the whole situation is exacerbated by the absence of Lane and Matto, when they are available Matto and Hopgood give a very solid middle look, both being ball players gives us maybe opportunities to be more attacking with the younger hard running edges in the absence of the big two? Lane will offer further value in that context.


I’ve missed your write ups GOL 10/10 –

Maybe the fourth interchange chair is hidden behind the pile of Mount Franklin empties in the corner of the coaches box,


!0 Year Member

The area which we need improvement is playing to a plan then add libbing in tight situations. Things like turning over the ball before the first tackle is just plain unexplainable when we need to tire them out and keep them pinned at their end. We are very poor at icing clutch moments and I believe this is where is fans need to see the next level of development.


I can’t argue about being poor there on Thursday night and BA called it out in the presser.

Swampy Miller

Question – for a side that is not super constructive with the ball in hand and who tends to rely on go forward with the kick at the end for field position, why is it that very few, if any of these kicks are contested. Moses punts long – caught 10 metres out(uncontested) – catcher runs to the 22, tackled – repeat ad infinitum. When does the penny drop that if the kick is going to be our try assist weapon so often, that we kick to the 22, have our players there to contest the ball and potentially force… Read more »


I take that as a tactical preference from BA. I’m not sure how different the tactics of other teams are against us as we were number one in the NRL in 2022 for kick return metres. Which is to say that from a statistical perspective, opponents also kick long to us.

John Eel

I thought our kick returns were poor on Thursday night. I don’t have a reason.


Brickhands! love it. Was often his first touch in our 20. He made me very nervous. We wont miss him.


TCT’s residen bard returns!! Thanks Gol!

John Eel

From the game Thursday night I noticed that JH has good hit and stick, especially when fresh. He will get better fitness with further game time.

Reed often fell off one on one tackles. That is not to say he didn’t have other qualities


perhaps look to the Super League for a quality Middle. Canberra harvested a number of top flight pigs. Tap Josh Hodgson who would have an intimate knowledge of the type we are bleeding for. Junior and Reg will gas out after SOO.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x