The Cumberland Throw

Post Game Grades – Round 2 vs Sharks


Parramatta Eels 26

Cronulla Sharks 30

Our halves had good games at least, which is what we’d asked for after last week. We also got another dose of J’maine Hopgreat, who is about three performances like this away from a spot on the Leagues Club wall. Not the inside like those chumps Tim Mannah and *redacted* got; the outside walls, all of them.

We’ve all had plenty of time to chew on the bad in the performance, and certain players are going to be copping all barrels in the grades, so I’m going to focus on a couple of other things.

First up, the Cronulla Sharks play some really ugly football. Not ugly in the old fashioned, boring but effective sense, but ugly as in very much against the spirit of the game. The Sharks have very clearly been coached to control the head of the attacking player at every opportunity. Whether that is an arm over the face or a full side headlock, every tackle that devolved into a wrestle, the Sharks players would have the ball carrier by the head.

It is brutally effective. No player wants to twist and fight to get to their feet knowing they could move their body one way and their head would go the other. It’s why head control is so important in amateur wrestling and jiu-jitsu, though instead of preparing to choke somebody unconscious the tacklers are trying to discourage a player from fighting a tackle by putting them in a spot where fighting it could severely injure them.

Cronulla are very unlikely to be the only ones doing it, but Friday night was the first time I really noticed it. Maybe we can give Craig Fitzgibbon and his team the benefit of the doubt and say it is a natural side-effect of good wrestling: holding the ball-arm, controlling the shoulder, but it looked far too intentional to my eyes. It’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on over the coming weeks, for sure.

The other bad belongs to the Eels club themselves. While I wasn’t at the game this week, I’ve seen multiple reports that the tribute for the Jon Mannah Cup didn’t go ahead before the game. That is simply not good enough, and while I appreciate that a full memorial before every clash with the Sharks would soon lose meaning, there needs to be something, at the very least the minute of celebration and a call to action for cancer research. Do better.

The big moment for me was one out of a “Choose your own adventure” book where you cheat, go to both options and realise in both you die horribly. Mitchell Moses puts in a huge effort to chase down the runaway Ronaldo Mulitalo, and now he has two choices: let him go and give away a quick play-the-ball with no defensive line set, or hold him down and march straight to the sin bin. I’m glad he chose to avoid the bin, but I’d really like to have seen Will Penisini take one for the team with the flop, or even Moses fall off and let another, slower tackle happen. Moses did his best and unfortunately his incredible defensive play was for absolutely no reward.

Possession: 50/50
Completions: Eels 28/42 (66%), Sharks 30/41 (73%)
Run metres: Sharks 1,905, Eels 1,874
Post-contact metres: Eels 674, Sharks 635
Average set distance: Eels 44.6m, Sharks 46.5m
Errors: Eels 15, Sharks 12
Tackles: Eels 327, Sharks 332
Missed tackles: Eels 32, Sharks 24

In my eyes, the pinnacle of grades content was the Ryan Matterson/Four Non Blondes – What’s Up meme (check out round 8 2020 for that one). I thought I’d struck my own version of it with a version of “Hops so Good” to John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Hurts so Good”. Then I went and read the rest of the lyrics and you know what, we’re back to the drawing board. Until then, J’maine Hops So Good will have to settle with the MVP award for round 2.





Clint Gutherson

1 – Fullback

Last week the King was the end of a lot of half chances, this week he was creating them. Unfortunately for us all, the only one to ice a Clint Gutherson chance was Ronaldo Mulitalo and Will Kennedy. That was a killer, but just one of several backbreaking mistakes that led to points in this one. At least he balanced the ledger on the other side a touch, unlike some others.

His HIA will undoubtedly get a lot of Eels fans on the side of Gus Gould’s ridiculous takes about assessments, but try not go crazy about it. The HIA luck will come our way sooner or later and for too long rugby league sat on the “sorry” side of “better safe than sorry”.


Maika Sivo

2 – Left Wing

Maika Sivo’s game looks good on paper, a lot of metres, two tries, not a lot of red marks in the ledger, but it still didn’t feel like a “big one” to me.


Will Penisini

3 – Right Centre

I don’t think you were the problem here, Will.


Waqa Blake

4 – Left Centre

I’m done. Really, I was done years ago, but his contract was so long that I just kept giving him a chance. No more. I never want to see him in first grade again. My least favourite Eel since Paul Kent.


Bailey Simonsson

19 – Right Wing

My least favourite Eel since Waqa Blake. 


Dylan Brown

6 – Five Eighth

That kick dead was an absolute shocker, but Dylan Brown put a couple of tries on, did his usual thing running the ball and looked much more like himself. A massive relief that he’s not phoning in his contract from now, considering it ends when my infant son will be able to drive.


Mitchell Moses

7 – Halfback

I’d like to have seen a bit more composure in the closing stages, but you can’t really ask for much more of Mitch in his milestone game. The sheer pace he showed both to score his second try and chase down Mulitalo were an example of the X-factor he brings as a half, and if he keeps playing like this the wins won’t be far behind.

As an aside, how good is the NRL’s head high crackdown not applying to try scoring? I guess a concussion copped in the act of scoring does less harm to a brain than one in general play.



8 – Front Row

65 minutes, an early meat pie to get both starting props off “the run” and of course, a mountain of work on both sides of the ball.


Josh Hodgson

9 – Hooker

Throw some headgear on Josh Hodgson this week and you’d have thought he was the man he replaced; a lot of tackles, a lot of missed tackles, no running game, a stupid error at dummy half and far too many crash balls. At least until he spoke and you couldn’t understand a word he said.


Junior Paulo

10 – Front Row

Junior Paulo was in battering ram mode this week, his distribution game tucked away for use at a later date. He wasn’t the problem.


Bryce Cartwright

11 – Second Row

While Bryce Cartwright has been getting through a lot more work than we’d expected, this was a bit more vintage from the longest running party in the NRL. Offloads, an error and a bit of ordinary defence. I’m not hating the Carty Party, but I can’t wait for the Shaun Lane-way Festival to come back.


Matt Doorey

12 – Second Row

The Doorey jury is still out for mine. He’s fine, but he’s replacing the “two time back rower of the year” and despite Parramatta’s premiership record for the last three and a half decades, I have high standards.


J’maine Hopgood

13 – Lock

It wasn’t perfect from my J’maine man, and since we lost let’s rib him a touch for that lazy effort late in the first half on Kennedy’s second try. Now, let us praise the man. Putting on tries like a half, offloading like a freak and running like a bulldozer, I thought I’d be the adult in the room and show restraint regarding signing Hopgood up for life, but two weeks is enough: promise this man the world, Parramatta.


Jirah Momoisea

14 – Interchange

D for Dunce. I wonder if the metres he made running behind the 1986 Chicago Bears offensive line count to his total, or if the most obvious penalty this season wiped them off the board.


Jack Murchie

15 – Interchange

I’m going to call Jack Murchie “Good Oregon Kaufusi” until further notice, because he’s filling that bench role like Kaufusi did, without the backbreaking errors. I suppose it is a compliment?


Wiremu Greig

16 – Interchange

I didn’t think this got enough love in the preview, so I’m delivering my own material again hoping for a better reaction second time around. It worked for Craig McLachlan on the Footy Show. Regarding Brad Arthur listening to my complaints about his bench “management”…

Much like the old geezer on the hill who spends the entire game yelling “up, up, get ‘im, get ‘im” I don’t see the coach changing his ways just because some punk a few rows in front gives him a serve.


Makahesi Makatoa

17 – Interchange

You’d think Maka would be better at making the most of his short gametime by now, but he’s certainly not playing like a guy who is only getting 13 minutes.

I’ve heard multiple people compare this team to the ill-fated Eels of 2018, which is the kind of ridiculous negativity that I suppose is bred by not winning a premiership since John Cougar Mellencamp was a thing. While it is unfortunate to start the season with two losses at home, we lost to two teams that should be top eight contenders (this line worked a lot better before the Bulldogs belted the Storm), each time by a single try, once in golden point. We’ve got two representative quality back rowers missing and are playing with a new hooker. Could it be better? Yes. Should you start looking forward to the 2023/24 summer of cricket? Not just yet (maybe not at all, Pakistan and the Windies are coming over. For tests).

You remove the dumb errors from this one and it is an easy victory. Unfortunately we’ve got a couple of pumpkins playing in the outside backs, but Simonsson and Blake have proven before they can at least be semi-competent first graders, and that is all we need. The defensive combinations on the edge were downright shocking, and that is the biggest concern for me. 

This is a good week to steer clear of media, Twitter, Facebook, just about anywhere that would talk about football. The crisis merchants are licking their lips at an 0-2 Eels with a tough draw and an unsigned halfback. That’s thousands of hate-clicks right there for Buzz, Crawley, Hooper, Kenty and co. Rise above it, take some time for you, and sit down next Thursday for the real beginning of the Parramatta Eels 2023 season.

Until next time, stay slippery Eels fans.


Stats and images provided by NRL / Eels media

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Waqa and Simonsson lost this one. With Nrown off to the Roosters we need to fill the spot with a solid defensive centre or give Cini a shot and buy another first grade quality prop so we can give our first 2 a decent rest.


Look I’ve only seen a replay of the game – if our spine are not having good games then we are going to struggle. On the wrestle issue, it’s been here for yrs and again we get dominated in ruck at times / slow play the balls etc. it’s up to the captain and coach to make complaints abt this or copy them…it’s simple. We got beaten through some bad defence and losing the ruck at important times. Pls don’t mention the bench…if BA does not use the bench more astutely then we will continue to see our props get… Read more »


This the second week that Parra has a hia with no penalty but with the loss of a key player. Gutherson going off for fifteen minutes threw the team off balance which showed on the score board. Why does Parra end up with the worst of the referees? The bench management is boarding on farcical and there is not a thing anyone except the coach can do about it. Why have a 124 kilo prop on the bench and not use him even if it is just to run into the teeth of the gale. Yes, this is not 2018… Read more »


Are we as bad as the 2018 team? No Are we looking like a bottom half of the table team? Yes. BA needs to evolve with the game the HIA situation means you need a back/utility option on the bench our fullback goes down a backrower comes on a centre goes to wing a winger goes to fullback its no wonder we leaked points as you said BA ain’t going to change his ways. I have a feeling Manly will put a cricket score on us this week we had 2 close losses against understrength teams this week is a… Read more »


Fair dinkum coaches like Wayne Bennett, know when they can not get any more from his group of men, or his message is stale he moves on, BA has a lottery ticket that lasted 10 years. Does anyone genuinely believe that we had a chance in the GF last year, one must also consider how we treated the players, by having them get their own way to the ground, and knocking back the opportunityto train at the stadium. Poor lead into a GF!
The Drums to sack Mark O’Neill first and then BA should be beating now?


If only we could have grabbed Benny for the organisation! The problem is that at the time he was available, we were an absolute shit show in the front office. A few years ago the panthers did something that set them up for sustained success, they grabbed Matt Cameron from the Eels to set up, well, everything. It was probably the biggest mistake that the Eels have ever made. They will never get him back but perhaps we can duplicate his success by following his lead. I absolutely applaud everything that BA has done for the club but it’s now… Read more »


I was a believer before with BA since he was able to have the team play in the finals. However, as time goes on, there seems to be no innovation, same tactics of “bringing in the collission”, “front-loading the effort”, etc. But Junior & RCG are not robots. Even machine has wear and tear. Just because they are paid top $ does not mean you can use them for almost the whole 80 mins. That’s why you have 17 players and 8 interchanges. Bad that he he had not fully utilised these options and worse, tries had been made vs… Read more »


It’s 2023 and still the same issues persist as 2021 and 2022, and the same player is at the centre of those issues. Would have loved to have resigned opacic and sent Waqa to England. Why why why BA? Yes injuries to forwards have us with a very poor bench but why do we have one player not even getting minutes? Surely there was a defensive centre on the market we could have nabbed as cover for Blake when he shits the bed like he does all the time. I’m not even sure he knows what his strengths are so… Read more »


Can we rate the defence – F, bench management – F (is there a grade below F?) and coach performance – see previous. Apparently they spent all off season working on defence, according to BA. We must have dumb footballers then as they learnt nothing, Are there shades of 2018 there?


Most of our supporters wouldn’t even know who John Cougar Mellencamp is mate, nice reference though


For someone that can go wayback past this, can I go on the record for the sound of music and “the yellow brick road” the Judy Garland version….. i wonder how many of our players can remember ‘ding dong the witch is dead’ because she aint yet.

The constant references to 2018 are not a comparison of the teams, just the circumstances.

Parra Pete

That’s where watermelons go for Christmas holidays isn’t it?


We still have a left edge that can’t defend, a coach that can’t use a bench and a Centre that can’t pass, catch or tackle.

Blake’s defence is well documented but he deadset can’t pass a ball. He bombed 2 tries by not passing and his pass to Sivo’s first try was forward. He isn’t a first grader.

Trapped in the 1970's

The two F graded players certainly deserved their ratings this week. Its not like anyone is expecting anything Herculean from them, just catch the ball without knocking on, fall on a loose ball without knocking on, tackle your man and remove from your game your primary instinct to create space for the attacking player when defending. Do these simple things and I for one will be rapt. Simonsson’s knock-on was just terrible. He had time and space and still managed to botch it. Outside of that there was a half break by Penisini who granted delivered a terrible pass to… Read more »


I’m nowhere near the president of the Waqa Blake fan club but he went down with a dead arm while gutho was on his HIA hiatus. We assumed he would go off when gutho returned but of course this didn’t happen so there he is trying to tackle with one arm bandaged and the other completely lame. He struggles to tackle effectively with 2 good arms so this was even more useless. Bench selection and rotation are a thing.


Tks Gol, good calls. That Momoisea penalty looked so ridiculous. The Sharks players were in no way obstructed, they simply ran to the edge of our wall and were waiting, but it was a clear infringement. Earlier I think it was Tryndall darted left then reversed and ran behind the Sharks forwards disengaging from the scrum…no different really but not pinged.


Yes, and Trindall got a clear advantage, as he then was “allowed” to play the ball in the middle of the field so they then could attack on either side. An absolute deadset penalty. Really, it was pathetic from the ref.


We didn’t even lose this game by a try (5 tries a piece). Disappointing start but it’s a long season. Great write up.


I was one of Waqas biggest supporters when he was at the riff but like a really bad marriage, it’s time to let go. We only obtained him because Penrith decided to pay a large proportion of his wage but with that ending , he no longer has any value to our side. He can play and may join another team and get back to his past glories but it just isn’t happening at the Eels. We would be extremely foolish to resign him in any capacity – but we do some pretty dumb things…. Want to see a dumb… Read more »


I think BA loves the definition of “stupidity”.


Completely agree Gol. Waqa did go down injured holding his other arm. But he’s injured after every tackle anyway. He’s genetics imply him to be a beast instead we get this…How many chances do you get to butcher a games. His lowlight reel will be longer than Ben Hur. Perhaps we need Luai to speak to him after the game. Like he spoke to the weak gutted 🐕 The positives are; 1. Lane and Matto will improve the team 2. it was close (both games) 3. Hopgood and RCG and Junior- but they will be spent by September at this… Read more »


A few home truths there. And most of our reggies were awful. It was embarrassing to watch,


The only winner we have brought to the club is Hopgood. Yes it was reserve grade but still a winner. (Matto won years ago but recent attitudes don’t imply winning).
Nathan from the Tigers
Nathan from Warriors
Defence coach from the Dragons…


And you can see the attitude and culture Hopgood had brought with him from the Panthers. In the last play (which was overturned due to a successful Sharks challenge), you can see him the only guy rushing up to set-up the ruck so time will stop. Some of our players were just standing (maybe due to fatigue) but this is the 1% ter that the coach have to instill in his players.


Yep, saw that too. Also when Moylan stepped him and they scored through the middle, he was the only forward near getting into position but the Sharks got such a quick play the ball Moylan had too much space for Hopgood to shut down such an evasive runner. We had started to sink In the prior ruck, and Moylan cashed in.

!0 Year Member

True comments about Moses. He thinks a clutch is in a car.


You really lost me with the 5/5 from Tryndall. 4/5 were right in front. Moses also kicked one from the sideline and one of the ones he missed he had gotten hit in the head after scoring a try. He also has nailed goalkicks at important times to ice games. He isn’t the best at it I will say, but I think that you are using the wrong game as an example.


I think we are ranked 5th for goal kicking last year. I’d love to see is rise up the rankings more than anyone.


I would love to see him improve as well. I am just saying that in my opinion this wasn’t the game where the goalkicking was the factor. If he didn’t do all of the things that he did in the game, we would have lost by more. Last week, 100% his goalkicking let the team down.


arthur needs to take a look at how gibson handled failure Put them in reserves no matter their Dollar value


Yep,and the dynamic between Gibson and Matterson may have been interesting.


Gibson would have him exiting the back of the bus.


You want to see Gibbo – see Wayne Bennett. They are identical in coaching and philosophy.
The history of the Eels would have been so much different if we had somehow grabbed Benny as our coach.


Our outside backs are the thing that will kill our season. On paper, we have one of the worst three quarter lines in the NRL. Eg Compare to the Broncos – Walsh, Cobbo, Stagg, Farnsworth, Oates! They will utterly destroy us.


Reg should got an A+ as I had him as first try scorer.


He was great 👍


Agree with everyone that Blake has been hot garbage, but what is the alternative if you’re picking the team this week? Only other genuine centre in top 30 squad is Loizou, who isn’t ready for first grade. Upgrade Cini? A small body who hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in NSW Cup the last two weeks (both also losses). I gather Russell spent time there in preseason but sounds like he’s out injured now too. Lack of depth at centre is a real issue and sign of poor roster management beyond lack of depth in the middles. How on… Read more »


I saw a rumour linking us to Paul Momorovski today. Doesn’t solve the conundrum for selection this week though!


He cant defend either, please NO!


Slim pickings. We don’t have the next man up mentality that other clubs seem to have.
Why aren’t we raiding Panthers reserve and junior grade players and coaches?
I believe Paul Momirovsky could be looking for a release from Roosters. In the short term he could be ok. He’s won 2 premiership rings.. Someone said Kelly from the Titans…
If we accept poor performance we are doomed to failure.


Lol Waqa of the north…🤣


Penrith are a smart football club, with Ex Parramatta Matt Cameron at the head of Football operations. Bring him home to Parra! Our Management just dont cut it! Mark O’Neill is an imposter and should be walked of the premises, he offers nothing!




Agree abt Matt Cameron. He’s a v good operator


Gol, why is parra never linked to anyone of note, our last major signing was Mitch Moses, I just dont get why, players of note do not want to come to Parramatta, but I am sure the management of the club has a lot to do with it.


And I think that maybe where the issue is. I reckon that BA is proud of his achievements of turning average players into excellent one. This I think is the reason why we keep signing players with potential. If that is his priority, I reckon he is best suited to be our developmental coach/ manager. He could start them in NSW Cup and upgrade them later into first grade.


Sadly Mediocrity has become a part of our DNA as a club, we accept it from the Juniors right through., Whilst ever management accept it we will get it every time.

Last edited 7 days ago by Anonymous

Two facts
1. We are in talks with Brian Kelly
2. Hopgood WON’T be an eel after this contract.


Maybe play Doorey in the centres, could do worse and you want someone to tackle when Tommy is coming through.


Not the answer, unfortunately!


Would Carty be better in centre? Doorey big lump of a lad


Marty, yes anything would be beter than Waqa lol.
Cartwright centre and Murchie edge back row. Doorey stay on his side with Penisini.
Surely they have prepared for Waqa being injured.

Last edited 6 days ago by pete

Murph, you are spot on we dont have much talent coming through the ranks, sadly Nathan Cayless has been given not much to work with in reserve grade, and Brenno in Flegg, has he won anything with his time at parra, I dont think so, we need a winning culture driven through from the U13’s development right through.


That’s true. I was thinking about someone we could grab from the reserves or flegg and promote as a
Hail Mary but there is no one.
Perhaps Guymer but he’s playing lock now but let’s face it ..
Is there anyone in reserves or flegg that we could really call a future NRL player ?
Is there anyone busting the door down ?
Whereas other clubs have a multitude of juniors in the wings just waiting for a chance.

Joe Vass

The game against the Storm was intense and very physical. Interestingly both sides had 5 tries put on them in defensive efforts that were in stark contrast to round one. Teams involved in such games quite often don’t back up the following week particularly early in the year when there is humidity and match fitness levels aren’t as high. I don’t like being critical of players but I will say in relation to Josh Hodgson, and to use your words, “the man he replaced” is going gangbusters for the Dogs. Our next 3 games will be a significant test and… Read more »

John Eel

Fatigue was getting them late in the game. I think that is more game awareness than fitness.

They were not playing well and trying to get back into position became very difficult.


Fatigue? Isn’t that why the game has 17 players available?
Just a thought.


And 8 interchanges too

John Eel

Spark you maybe right but what I do know for certain is that if the players stopped making errors and made their tackles and defensive reads, irrespective of the bench rotation, they would have one the game.

Under those outcomes I have suggested fatigue would not have been an issue.

We are only two rounds into the season. Let’s just see what happens before we all turn into Chicken Little impersonators.


Gol, we cant just neglect the fact that we looked really poor at times against the Sharks, that game could have got away on us on Friday, the Sharks were not all that flash except for Kennedy, Nikora.


I am not sure why we are looking for excuses for our game against Shark’s, offensively they were two quick for us. WE scored 26 points which is enough to win all our matches. I have a simple rule, I am prepared to let the opposition score 2 tries and two goals i.e. then all we ever have to worry about is scoring more than 12. You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to figure where we failed. Now let’s analyse the 3 tries we should have stopped. I’ll nominate 1. The intercept at 3 different points. 2.The kick… Read more »


Correction make that Eels 26 Sharks 12 LOL


What an absolute lot of garbage. Did you take into account the Sharks errors with our tries. “Slmple game “if you look at both sides.


Reed made many mistakes and he did some good things, to say he was going gangbusters is a little like saying David Fifita is a workhorse!


Great summary. I never want to see Waqa or Simonson in an eels jersey again. Neither are worth half of whatever we are paying them. Momosea can go back to wherever he came from. Not going to make it. The coaches bench rotation was diabolical. Wiremu should have been given an opportunity when our middles were out in their feet. The biggest concern is other than our starting 13, it seems the complete lack of depth, complete lack of juniors development and some truly horrific depth signings over the last few years mean we are struggling in all grades. It’s… Read more »


Agree about Momosea…he has been shockingly underwhelming. I had no idea he was THAT incapable of contributing positively. I don’t want to bag him too much but jeez I was expecting so much more. On the other hand, Hopgood – I had no idea that he was THAT good. Fantastic worker. Applies himself, has a red hot go at it. Every other Eel should look at him and follow his example. The drop in quality from Campbell-Gillard, Paulo and Hopgood is just too huge right now. Hopefully that will improve

Last edited 7 days ago by N.Senada

Agree. Hopgood needs to be a long term eel. There is only upside there


Unfortunately Hopgood is on a 2 year deal like Ice was
He will establish himself maybe become a rep player and like Ice he will get an offer that the club can’t/won’t match


Mmm. Cos of course it’s the club’s fault that a player who is on the up has zero interest in signing a contract for unders now, rather than waiting to see what offers he can get in a year’s time. It’s not like there’s two parties who have to think it’s a good deal, after all, eh?

On the other hand, we can hope that Hopgood might look at the shambles Ice has signed himself up to, and realise that money is not all that.


Maybe but 20 plus years supporting this team I’m prepared for dissapointment


Tigers are sitting right where we are Ranga!


If the club offers him unders then of course we’ll bungle the contract. Look at ICE told we won’t match Tigers offer. ICE accepted Tigers deal and at the end of the year we were matching the Tigers deal. #BUNGLED.


It’s almost like this site allowed me free reign on player ratings. The Blake and Simonsson assessments are bang on and made me tragically laugh at the same time.


This wrestling issue will kill the game. Who wants to watch players being put into situations which could do them serious damage? This is a massive issue that the NRL needs to sort out before it’s too late.

Martin Pluss

Great insights into wrestling, head holding and twisting the body in different directions.

I got to the game and loved watching the game unfold from behind the try-line on the southern side.

As per usual – many thanks. Martin


In Brad Arthur we trust and sign him for another year – Gee we are a dumb footy club!
Bring dennis Fitzgerald back, he is available!

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