The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – April 13, 2023: Enjoy Any Victory

How good is winning!

I don’t care that the Eels weren’t “pretty” in defeating the Tigers. Any victory was far better than the alternative.

From a selfish perspective, it’s much easier creating site content after a successful weekend. As a consequence you’ll probably note the length of this column.

The tone is mostly positive because there are many things to celebrate in PARRAdise this week. That said, I do have a minor bone to pick about the team’s acknowledgement of supporters. I’ve left that to last.

Bumpers Up.



Winning Is Everything (Mostly)

There were many supporters left feeling flat after the Eels underwhelming victory over the Tigers.

My mail is that the players were even less impressed than the fans. It was there for all to see in a team song which was sung with the same enthusiasm as the national anthem at a school assembly.

I was in two minds about that.

My first reaction is that any win should be enjoyed. It’s not easy to register victories in the NRL and the team has played much better but lost. Team songs aren’t belted out after brave defeats.

On thinking more about the players’ reaction, I’m glad to know that they weren’t happy with their performance. Nor should they. If they were to rest on their laurels after that game, even an injury impacted Bulldogs would prove too good next Sunday.

Sivo scores

I reckon that attitude will extract the same desire to bounce back that you’d see after a bad loss.

As a supporter I didn’t enjoy the process, but I was happy to get the result. After all, when the season is done and reviewed, it’s the games that got away rather than the ugly wins, that are the focus of attention.

Media Takes

It’s not unexpected, but the contradictory media takes from the Easter Monday clash were something to behold.

The Eels, of course, were heavily criticised for not putting the Tigers to the sword. Many supporters agreed with such opinions.

However, the Tigers were near universally praised for what was described as their best performance of the season, one which apparently should give their fans hope for the future.

So their home game loss against a “flat” Eels side was better than their four point loss to the Dogs at Belmore or their 12 point loss to the Storm in Melbourne?

Actually, I reckon it was their best performance of the season. Most of us knew that the Tigers would lift for this match. But in acknowledging that, I have to give more credit to the Eels than what I was originally prepared to do.

It’s said that good teams find a way to win, even when they aren’t performing at their best. And Parra certainly didn’t play anything like title aspirants in this game. They were, after all, playing the cellar dwellers.

But they did win, something they couldn’t achieve despite playing better in every loss this year.

And the Tigers would not be sitting at the bottom of the table had they found the same resolve in earlier games this season. Still, moving forward, there’s no guarantee they’ll build on the effort they showed against the Eels.

Therein lies the folly of trying to draw a form line across rounds. Parra beat the Panthers. Manly beat Parra. The Panthers flog Manly.

I’ll refer back to my initial response. Just enjoy the wins whenever they happen because you never know what’s around the corner.

Milestone Man

Congratulations to Shaun Lane for his 100th game for the Eels. It was important for the Eels to get the victory for the two competition points, but equally it meant that the Lane Train could look back on his milestone match as a winning one.

I had the privilege of interviewing Shaun on stage recently at the season launch for the Parramatta Junior Rugby League, and he was very impressive.

The 198cm edge forward has had quite the rugby league journey. A Souths junior, he played junior reps for Cronulla before being graded by Canterbury. He then bounced to the Warriors and Manly before finding a home at Parra.

Shaun Lane

When I asked about why it took so long to find a home and why it was Parra, he was candid in his response. He admitted that he had a victim mentality response to coaches who didn’t quite understand him as a person.

He is now far more positive in his mindset, enjoying and living in every moment that he gets in football and crediting BA and the coaching staff for making him feel like he’s valued.

Now that Shaun has that first game back from injury under his belt, you’ll start to see even more from him and the players on his edge, especially Dylbags.

Choo Choo!

Milestone Club

This week, April 12 to be precise, the Parramatta Eels celebrated their 76th birthday.

Yes, the milestone of 75 years was acknowledged last season, but supporters should continue to appreciate the longevity of our club. Of the 16 other clubs that participate in the NRL, only five have a longer history than the Eels, and that’s crediting the origins of the partner clubs in the joint ventures of the Dragons and Tigers.

The 75 year celebration that occurred in 2022 featured a special function that brought together current and former players and staff.

That 1947 team

It was, from all reports, a wonderful event. Unfortunately, an untimely bout of Covid prevented me from attending and to say that I was dirty on the universe is an understatement. A sore throat on the Monday tested positive on the Tuesday and that ruled out the Thursday “party”.

Wests Tigers then spoilt that party for all supporters by defeating the Eels in the 75th birthday/anniversary match at CommBank Stadium.

Let’s hope that we all have more to cheer about this week.

ANZAC Round Jersey

A huge congratulations to the Eels club for the ANZAC Round jersey. Anybody involved in the research and design process needs to take a bow.

The ANZAC Round jersey

Though there are some supporters who want some sort of “pop” from jerseys, designs for ANZAC Round must also be a show of respect for the solemnity of ANZAC Day.

This Eels jersey does exactly that whilst providing unique features that honour Colonel Jack Argent OBE OAM ED who was the founder of the Parramatta Eels and served in World War 2 as part of the 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Australian Artillery 9th Division 2nd AIF.

More details on these features can be found here.

By way of insight into the process and the care taken in producing this special jersey, Eels Member Councillors were shown prototypes way back in June 2022. Minor changes were since made to these designs, with the result being the jersey which was unveiled this week.

I reckon we can all be proud of the jersey that the Eels will be wearing during ANZAC Round.

Targeting Moses

How many halfbacks get hit with late shots as often as Mitch Moses?

The man with the strongest kicking game in the NRL is probably the most marked player in the premiership. As a consequence he’s taken more than his share of knocks, with the majority sailing close to the wind.

I’m not sure how the officials missed Alex Twal taking Moses out when he was chasing his own kick, but it didn’t surprise. What’s also unsurprising is the minimal media interest in the regular “attention” given to the Eels half.


In the past, when other playmakers such as Thurston were the victims of late “tackles”, the media frenzy brought a focus on protecting the kicker. And though he’s received the odd penalty for late hits, it doesn’t change the fact that the shots on the Eels halfback are rarely discussed.

If anything, there’s currently been an element of derision expressed by some in the media towards any suggestion that a kicker such as Moses should be protected better.

In the aftermath of Monday’s win, Moses rightly received the praise that he was due.

Say what you want about the recent contract dramas, Mitch is a competitor who gives his all for the Eels. Even when he’s not quite firing, he’s still giving everything he can to get the win.

Take him out of the Tigers match and the Eels lose. Parra didn’t win the middle and were far too passive in defence. Hopefully Moses has a better platform to work from against the Dogs.

Reggies Mirror NRL

It was another ugly win for the Eels in the NSW Cup clash against the Wests Magpies. In a performance that in many ways mirrored the NRL clash, Parra never quite won the middle but were carried to victory on the back of the number 7.

Though the team have now gone undefeated for the past month, they never quite clicked in attack against a plucky Magpies side.

Given the recent call from Luke Lewis about Jake Arthur having a future in the pack, how appropriate was it that the opening try from Arthur was one that was more typical of a forward than a halfback?

Jake Arthur kicks downfield

That try was also indicative of the level of involvement from JA in games this season. His effort later in the match to knock the ball out of the hands of the Wests player who was about to score a try was a lesson to any player about the importance of competing in every moment.

Outside of Arthur, I thought that Daejarn Asi had his best game since returning from injury. He was composed at the back and his positional play was encouraging for a team searching for a back up fullback.

Arthur Miller-Stephen is likely to be out of action for a couple of months, so Asi can expect to spend more time in the custodian role. He might even get more opportunity to shine with such responsibility.

As far as the forwards are concerned, Luca Moretti continued his upward trend. The middle forward is getting more consistent game time in 2023 and is showing the benefit of the increased minutes in Cup.


Three From Three

The Eels Jersey Flegg team set the stage for a weekend clean sweep with a seven tries to three victory over the Wests Tigers on Good Friday at Lidcombe Oval.

It had been some time since I’d visited the venue – I’m thinking it was a Metro Cup game back in the mid 90s. The cycling track creates distance between the field and the spectators, and the “grandstand” sits at a strange angle.

I don’t know what the sheds were like for the players but sitting in the old stand was an immediate reminder about the dilapidated facilities we all faced when the Eels played Wests back in the day. Nostalgia is no reason to stage matches at substandard grounds.

This Parra side has now won four straight games after starting the season with two losses. The team look to be a tight group and genuinely play for each other. Even better, it looks like they follow the game plan, and even late changes don’t disrupt their focus.

The win was soured by the injuries to winger Beau Newlands and prop Brock Parker. I’m expecting the next players up to get the job done, something that has occurred over the past month. To be honest, Parker was a chance of being lost to this team at some point, with his form demanding call up to NSW Cup.


The Hip Drop Tackle

Has a flood of hip drop tackles suddenly crept into the game? 

Without question, a genuine hip drop can cause devastating leg injuries – just ask Haze Dunster.

Have such tackles always existed in the game? Did they fly under the radar because they weren’t labelled? A TCT reader suggested that they are the result of the NRL reaction to cannonball tackles with legs tacklers hitting a higher strike zone then sliding down the legs of the ball carrier.

I don’t have an answer but I reckon a forensic investigation into archived match footage would surely find evidence of past occurrences.

The hip drop tackle on Haze and the aftermath – image credit Channel Nine

I say this because the common excuse is that many of these tackles are caused by fatigued defenders and the consequence of their accidental movement.

Coaches are declaring that hip drop tackles are not being practised at training. Personally I have never seen hip drops at Eels training. And why would it happen at any club. Players and staff would blow up deluxe if someone tried it during opposed sessions or defence drills.

So should the NRL accept accidental consequence as a reason or an excuse?

If we follow that logic, then we have to apply that to any tackle that goes wrong. There aren’t many players that deliberately inflict a crusher tackle (though we have seen some over the years), and the same goes for high shots.

When you have a player bent forward as they run towards a defender, like Tedesco, they make their head part of the usual target area. And if a player falls suddenly just before the tackle, accidental high contact is impossible to avoid.

Those circumstances for crushers or high shots are rarely taken as valid excuses.

So when commentators start calling for accidental hip drops to be excused, maybe they need to consider broadening their stance. Because this contact sport of ours is full of unintended consequence.

Junior Representative Finals

The first week of junior rep finals commences this week, with the Eels in action across all grades. It is the first time since 2017 that every grade has qualified for finals footy in the same season. And back then, the Tarsha Gale Cup was only a nine a side competition.

This weekend’s matches are sudden death, with the victors advancing to the second week’s semi-finals (grand final qualifiers). The top two teams in each grade are given a week one bye, and await the results of this week’s games.

The Eels Tarsha Gale team celebrating

All of Parra teams will be in action at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday. Commencing at 10am, the 3rd placed Eels take on the Sharks in Matts. It’s followed at 11:45 am by the 4th placed Eels lining up against the Magpies in the Ball, before the fifth placed Eels face the Steelers in the Gale from 1:30pm.

You’ll get live blogs of all matches live on TCT, and we wish all staff and players our best for the finals series.


Fan Engagement

It was terrific to see the interaction between Eels players and supporters after full time at Accor Stadium. Hopefully it signals the start of improved engagement with Eels fans.

The social distancing imposed on the community during COVID was taken to the next level by the NRL bubble initiative that was necessary to keep the competition alive.

Emerging from those times has been confusing. COVID didn’t disappear and for a time players were kept in “clean zones”, separated from supporters.

All of this created a genuine disconnect between players and supporters.

However, whilst recognising such challenging times, it’s reasonable to state that the Eels team has not been a leader in acknowledging home fans.

It’s been the subject of mainstream and social media discussion, and has been raised in Parramatta Eels Member Council meetings over a number of years.

How can this disconnect be changed?

The most obvious is home crowd acknowledgement by the players.

Win or lose, most NRL clubs excel in this regard and it’s difficult to fathom why our Eels do not. Given the number of memberships and the attendances at CommBank Stadium, it should be a feature of home matches. Other clubs would kill for this level of support. It should never be taken for granted.

Strangely, our Eels players often engage very well with Parra supporters at interstate games, yet it’s minimal at CommBank Stadium. Hopefully what we witnessed after the victory over the Tigers will be replicated at home games.

The King thanking Eels fans in Melbourne

There are exceptions. Ryan Matterson regularly works his way around the perimeter of the field to thank fans. Some other players also get to certain points around the ground to recognise the crowd for their support. Players who regularly give their time to fans who stop them for photos or autographs outside the stadium should also be recognised. I’ve also witnessed particular players spend time with kids at training, and give away their boots as a special reminder of the visit.

However, aside from individuals going above and beyond, the post-match crowd acknowledgement at Eels home games is something that compares unfavourably to other NRL teams. And though I hate to raise it, it’s nothing like the unified team response given by Wanderers players at their CommBank appearances.

It should be noted that the Eels have a proud history of supporter interaction.

From the 60s to the early 2000s, players would venture over to Parra Leagues after home games, sharing a drink and a yarn with each other and the fans. Also, in the mid to late 70s, players were rostered on to the dining room in the Leagues Club after games and would move around to speak to every patron in the room.

In more recent times, the players would assemble in the club auditorium after home games, answer questions on stage about the match, and then mingle briefly with fans.

Parra was also a pioneer in sharing premierships with the fans. Who can forget the iconic scenes of the players pilgrimage to the SCG Hill after grand final wins?

Unquestionably, times have changed and we have to be realistic and understanding in our expectations as supporters. Many matches finish late at night and I think it’s fair that players get time to themselves or with their families after games.

That said, it doesn’t require anything special to improve the current interaction, just five to ten minutes of crowd acknowledgement from all players before leaving the field.

Are there other ways that will help you to feel more connected as a fan? Perhaps you’d like more player content in the official media?

The work by Eels media surrounding Shaun Lane’s 100th game was terrific and there were some fun segments featuring new recruits during the preseason. I also enjoy the grabs with players straight after the game. Maybe you’d like more of that or even behind the scenes stuff with the Eels squad?

I’m interested in reading your ideas on anything that will help fan engagement. Let’s see what we can generate.

Eels forever!


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25 thoughts on “Bumpers Up – April 13, 2023: Enjoy Any Victory

  1. Spark

    Thanks for the info in relation to the girls in the Tarsha Gale
    Is there any chance to get some information up about the upcoming NRLW season? I see we have been absolutely plundered by the other teams and have basically lost all of our good players. I do hope that we pick up some players and are not reduced to just making up the numbers. After making the GF last year, I would have hoped that we would have had a chance to go one better.
    There really isn’t a lot coming out of Eels HQ.

    1. Anonymous

      For some reason this season has been terrible for media work from the club, with little information available, even injuries and team info has been dire.

      The article contains more information about the club than the club provides, which is terrific. Overall there is quite a desire by the club to keep details re signings and interest secret, which contrasts with our contemporaries.

      We have needed an experienced prop, and at least one aggressive back to give impetus on returns , and let’s face it the one you can’t teach “speed” is also a missing ingredient. Perhaps they don’t agree with what the fans see as obvious gaps, or maybe the players weren’t available, not sure clubs like the Roosters find them unavailable however.

      There has to be negotiations continuing for the the NRLW , bipartisan it has been disappointing to lose so many players with no comment , seems strange really.

      1. sixties Post author

        Anon, I’d like to think that the club will rectify the lack of info around injuries and player profiles soon.

    2. sixties Post author

      Spark, the club has been assembling the NRLW roster but for whatever reason aren’t in a position to make any announcements as yet. As you noted we have lost what seems like most of the GF squad, and we discussed the disappointment of this at length in the podcast. Hopefully, we will be talking about the excitement of the new roster within the next month.

  2. Anonymous

    Fan Engagement went out the window in 2019 when they put all the paying supporters on the opposite side to where the players enter and exit. You will notice if you go to the games that all communication, entertainment, etc is aimed at the corporate side. We are blessed with a visit from Sparky however, so we should just think ourselves lucky.

    1. sixties Post author

      Anon, the club had no say in that aspect of Stadium design. Keeping catered boxes together and having proximity to the kitchens etc makes sense. I’m on that eastern side so I’m one of those punters that would prefer to be sitting in the shade on sunny afternoons rather than staring into the setting sun.
      I will put it to the club that they could consider addressing the “punters” side (eastern stand) for presentations. Perhaps part of the issue is where the cameras are located?

    2. HamSammich

      As someone who has sat on the western side for 20 years (season ticket holder since 2002) pre-game entertainment has always been geared mostly to the eastern side. It isn’t a recent phenomenon.

  3. HamSammich

    Thanks for bringing up my concerns surrounding the lack of protection for Moses. This has been a thorn in my side for years, when there was a “crackdown” on late tackles on kickers it seemed to be for everyone but Mitch. Even in round 3 this year where leota was penalised for a late tackle on Moses, there was a tackle earlier in the game from fisher-harris where not only did he hit him late, he hit him whilst Moses was off the ground and did not attempt to wrap his arms. If this was a player from a media darling club the game would’ve stopped a trial would be staged on the field. But seeing as it was Moses nothing was done, nothing was said and we had to cop it on the chin.

      1. sixties Post author

        Remember that game at Shark Park last year. It wasn’t just the late tackle when he kicked the ball, he also had late contact on him when he scored a try and nothing came of it.

        1. John Eel

          I do remember it.If I am remembering correctly he took an injury and out of the game as a result of the tackle.

    1. sixties Post author

      I trial held on the field! Given past media reactions to incidents I can picture that. Dylan was literally convicted by the media at half time when his knees made contact with Hutchison.

      1. !0 Year Member

        Lol. Let’s not forget when Norman did something…. That was happening all the time with other teams and there was a rule change…. Damn if I can remember what it was but it drove me up the wall. Even the commentary on Bailey’s tackle on Tedesco …. You would have thought no one ever did a tackle like that before. There is quite some unconscious bias towards our team

  4. Iron Mike

    Another great read Sixty,
    As far as the Tigers game goes, Parra won that game in cruise control and would have won it easy if Dunster didn’t have an unhappy game which is very poor by the Tigers. We definitely can’t show up like that again.

    Our ANZAC jersey is outstanding and I’m definitely planning on getting one and I’m not one to buy every new jersey.

    1. sixties Post author

      BA reported that Haze only had one training session with the team and I can confirm that he missed the Wednesday session last week. He’ll be better for the run.

  5. !0 Year Member

    Thank you sixties for discussing the appalling commentary across all media outlets on hip drop tackles. The quote of “where is he supposed to go” is the most ridiculous assertion. Good on the NRL treating those tackles for what they are …..I am sure if a parra player was an exponent of the tackle all the media would be calling it to be a send off offence

    1. BDon

      Now here’s an interesting one, Junior got suspended (2 weeks from memory)for a hip drop before it hit crackdown status. Sixties, you will recall he got swung around the opponents waist by the physics of how bodies were moving, he had no control of how he landed but ended up at the guy’s heels. At the time we were all scratching our heads, but it seems we have led the way in this form of tackle.

      1. sixties Post author

        BDon, I can remember arguing at the time that he didn’t make the contact that the tackle is now renowned for, and as you noted, it was brought about by the momentum in the tackle. He couldn’t use that as an excuse and got the two weeks, which for me at the time was a typical Parra outcome. Junior couldn’t argue that it was an accident. No similar excuses should be offered by the media now.

    2. sixties Post author

      10 year, I regarded the Preston tackle as much closer to a hip drop than the one that Junior was suspended for – see below. He was deliberately using his weight dropping as his method of bringing down the player, and quite deliberately so. Junior couldn’t use momentum and lack of intent as an excuse, nor should anyone else – not unless accidental is deemed as a valid excuse for every other tackle gone wrong.

      1. BDon

        100%, Preston grabbed first at the waist then slid down as a second motion, to use his body weight as an anchor.Contact with the back of legs was not major but still occurred. Why does he get the ‘accidental’ stamp?

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